Emma's Blog





Grain-Free and Yeast-Free Wraps

Here is another successful experiment in finding a replacement for a commercial bread wrap. Made with ground seeds and grated courgette, this Grain-Free and Yeast-Free wrap makes a perfect base for packed lunches. Ideal for the ‘anti-Candida’ diet, it can be quickly mixed and baked, and then stuffed with a filling of your choice.  Shredded vegetables with lemon mayonnaise makes a delicious choice.

For a YouTube Video of this recipe click here

Grain-Free & Yeast-Free Wraps


  • 1/2 cup of ground sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds – or a mix of the two
  • 1 Tablespoon of ground flax/linseeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground psyllium husk
  • 2 Tablespoons grated courgette
  • 1 Tablespoon beaten egg
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons boiling water


  • Mix the ground seeds with the psyllium husk and grated courgette

  • Stir in the beaten egg and lemon juice. Finally add the boiling water and combine well.

  • Leave mixture to stand for 5 minutes, to allow the seeds and psyllium husk to absorb the liquid
  • Cut non-stick baking parchment to fit the size of a large baking tray

  • Take small satsuma size pieces of the dough and roll into balls. Place towards the edge of the baking paper and place a square of baking parchment – about 15-20 cm square – over the top.

  • Carefully roll out the dough ball into a circular wrap, about 12-13 cm in diameter. Take care not to roll too thin – keep the wrap about 3mm thick.
  • Remove the top piece of baking parchment and place another dough ball in another quarter of the large piece of baking parchment, Using the small square of paper again, carefully roll out another wrap.  You should have enough dough for 3-4 wraps.

  • Once you have rolled out all the mixture, carefully lift the baking parchment and lay it into the baking tray.
  • Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 10-15 minutes, until the edges of the wraps are beginning to brown, the wrap feels firm, and it can easily be removed from the baking parchment with a spatula.

  • Stack the wraps together and pull the baking paper around them, so the moisture is retained as they cool.

  • Serve with whatever filling you have to hand. Try:
    • Mashed butter beans with finely chopped red pepper and red onion
    • Sliced avocado and tomato

  • Roasted courgette and red pepper

  • Shredded lettuce and grated carrot with lemon and garlic mayonnaise – see video recipe here

NB. Remember, when you are using psyllium husk in cooing, drink plenty of water during the day.

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New Ways With Marrow

Summer Crops of Marrow

As the summer continues, garden crops are beginning to be harvested. Courgettes and marrows are becoming elongated and plump, ready for the kitchen. You can use early marrows in exactly the same way as courgettes. If you can easily press your fingernail through the marrow skin, this indicates that it doesn’t need to be peeled, and that the seeds are soft enough to eat.

Marrow Nutrients

Generally, the smaller the marrow, the more flavoursome it is, and the less watery when cooked. This vegetable provides a high percentage of dietary fibre, which is essential for the proper movement of food through our digestive tracts, helping to reduce constipation. Fibre is also beneficial in keeping cholesterol at a healthy level, carrying excess cholesterol out of our bodies. The vitamin C content in marrow helps to prevent the cholesterol from oxidising, which is when it can become harmful. Vitamin C also supports the creation of collagen, a foundational material we need in blood vessels, muscles, and cells, further supporting the cardiovascular system, as well as encouraging healthy skin.

Low calorie marrow contains just 3.1 grams of carbohydrate per 100g, but 2.7g of protein, which is a significant contribution to overall protein intake through the day, particularly for those who eat little or no meat.

Cooking Marrow

Perhaps the easiest way you can use young marrow is to scrub well, chop and roast in a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, for a delicious side dish.

If you are not keeping oxalates low in the diet, try adding a sprinkle of turmeric before roasting, to add flavour, colour and increase the antioxidants.

Beyond this however, there are an abundance of recipes and ideas for you to use this versatile vegetable, other than the traditional way of cutting into rings and steaming. Over the coming few blogs I will share some ideas for both savoury and ‘sweet’ recipes! I will start here with the recipe that first got me to enjoy marrow back in my teenage years.

Garlic Marrow


  • 3 cups of chopped young, tender skin marrow
  • 1 cup of chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped red pepper
  • 3 cloves of crushed garlic
  • optional 1-2 cups chopped fresh tomato
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh or dried herbs to taste, e.g. sprigs of rosemary, oregano or thyme, 3 basil leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano or Italian mixed herbs


  • Scrub or peel the marrow and chop into 2cm cubes
  • Place in a large pan with the chopped onions, pepper and garlic and olive oil

  • If you have an abundance of home-grown tomatoes add these to the pan
  • Add herbs, using fresh if you have them in the garden, but dried herbs work well too

  • Bring the pan up to heat, and then turn to the lowest setting, adding a lid.
  • Leave for 5-10 minutes until the veg are soft, checking that the pan doesn’t burn while cooking. Remove fresh herb sprigs.
  • Serve as a main dish, topped with lightly roasted pumpkin seeds or as a accompaniment to grilled fish.





Pumpkin Pie Muffins


Use More Veggies!

Continually on my quest to add more vegetables into the diet, I was interested to find the local supermarket stocked tins of pureed pumpkin, with nothing added. Obviously, using freshly cooked pumpkin is going to be nutritionally superior, but as a quick 'back-up' in  the cupboard, pureed pumpkin can be helpful.

When in season, fresh pumpkin may be peeled, diced, cooked and pureed for the Pumpkin Pie Muffins. Because it is so hard to purchase whole pumpkins other than at the end of October, you can easily freeze the puree in 1/2 cup portions, ready to use at other times of the year.  Alternatively you simply replace pumpkin with cooked and pureed squash.


Pumpkin Pie Spice

I have called this recipe 'Pumpkin Pie Muffins' because of the warm spice combination that is traditionally used in sweet pumpkin pie recipes. The mix consists in varying proportions of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and allspice, but this can easily be replaced with the 'Mixed Spice' found on our Supermarket shelves.


Pumpkin Nutrition

Pumpkin contains beta carotene, which is converted to vitamin A. This valuable nutrient is important for good immune health and eye health. Pumpkin is also a great source of fibre, helping to fill you up and keep digestion working smoothly. This is a low carb snack, containing beneficial fats, helping to release energy through the day. Use Pumpkin Pie Muffins as a breakfast, topped with whisked coconut milk, or as a snack, topped with some sunflower seed cream. You can of course eat the muffins plain, and enjoy the dense texture and sweet spice any time of the day!




Pumpkin Pie Muffins Recipe



  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, softened
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 1 level Tablespoon arrowroot flour or tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons mixed cake spice



  • Whisk the eggs whites to form stiff peaks
  • Mix the egg yolks with the coconut oil, the pumpkin puree, and then the dry ingredients, stirring well.
  • Carefully fold a spoonful at a time of the pumpkin mixture into the egg whites until thoroughly combined.
  • Place 1-2 dessert spoonful’s of the mixture into about 8 muffin cases.
  • Place in an oven preheated to 180 degrees Celsius and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the muffins in the oven for a further 15 minutes. This will allow them to gently cook through.
  • Allow to cool. Eat plain or topped with seed butter or creamy coconut milk.





Buckwheat and Carrot Flatbread

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Baked Falafel

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Cauliflower Flat Bread

This Cauliflower Flatbread makes a great accompaniment for dips and salads. Being vegetable-based,  it can either be low grain or grain-free, depending on your requirements. Because cauliflower is one of the lower oxalate-containing vegetables, this is also a helpful recipe for those trying to minimise dietary oxalates. Try it with Persian Aubergine Dip, or hummus. This recipe is very easy if you have a food processor to reduce the cauliflower to ‘grains’. Alternatively, just rub the cauliflower over a grater to create small, fine pieces.


  • 1 medium cauliflower head
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 2 heaped dessertspoons of brown rice flour OR tapioca/arrowroot flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic granules
  • Extra virgin olive oil


  • Preheat the oven to Fan 160 degrees Celsius
  • Either grate the cauliflower to small ‘grains’ or whizz in a food processor, to obtain a couscous-like texture
  • Place in a bowel with the brown rice flour or tapioca/arrowroot flour, and spices
  • Add the eggs and mix well to create a ‘dough’. Bring together to form a ball
  • Place a sheet of non-stick baking parchment on a baking tray and lightly oil with extra virgin olive oil
  • Place the mixture in the centre of the tray and gently pat down to form a circle about 25 cm in diameter, and about 1/2 cm thick
  • Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until turning golden
  • Turn the flat bread over. The easiest way to do this is to put another baking tray over the top and simply flip upside down. Return the flatbread to the oven adn bake for a further 15-30 minutes, until the second side is golden.
  • Remove from the oven, cut into triangles and allow to cool
  • Store in a tin in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze.
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Red Pepper Hummus Recipe














Back in the early 1980’s, when I first started to make hummus, it was not available in the shops. Fast forward nearly 40 years, and there isn’t a deli or supermarket that doesn’t stock this Middle Eastern dip. This ease of accessibility can be both helpful and unhelpful! Hummus provides a great protein snack which is suitable for many on an anti-Candida programme, and being able to buy it in the local supermarket can be a great help on a limited diet. However, besides needing to check store-bought hummus for citric acid, and even sugar, we need to bear in mind that most commercially-produced hummus will contain cheap, processed and refined vegetable oils. Along with this there is often a lot of processed salt. This being the case, making your own hummus can be beneficial.

However, the use of these oils and salt has meant that the supermarkets have defined what we think hummus ought to taste like. Consequently, a home-made dip can take some getting used to. Adding some red pepper,  increases flavour and texture without having to rely on cheap oils and spoons of salt.

Red Pepper Hummus



  • 1x400g can/pack of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Juice of 1/2  freshly squeezed lemon
  • 1 tablespoon tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pinch Lo-Salt or Himalayan Pink Salt



Finely chop the red pepper, place in a pan with the extra virgin olive oil, and cook on the stove over a low heat until soft. Place in a food processor with the chickpeas, crushed garlic, lemon juice, and tahini. Blend until smooth. Season to taste. Serve on top of salad, with veggie sticks, or with cauliflower flat-bread.







Which Diet is Best?

A conversation with a friend over the weekend reminded me how confusing it can be to know what is the best diet to follow. There are so many diet variations now, which should we choose? Paleo (based on hunter/gatherer type foods), Vegetarian, Vegan, Mediterranean, Low carb, High Protein, High fat?


Diets Need to be Specific for Each Person

Of course for many Nutritionhelp clients the above eating regimes don't form the basis of their meals, but rather the restriction and inclusion of foods specific for their needs. For example, no sugar in an anti-Candida programme, no dairy or gluten for food intolerances. or avoiding the night-shade family of foods for joint pain or psoriasis.


Low Oxalate Diet

In addition to these well-known food problems are a growing number of clients who need to avoid oxalate-rich foods. This may be helpful in working to reduce pain syndromes which don't respond to the basic anti-Candida diet. Oxalates are 'built-in' pest control in many vegetable foods. Particularly high in spinach, rhubarb, sesame, and buckwheat, oxalates are also in most grains, and many vegetables and nuts. When the digestive tract is compromised, oxalates can pass into the body and form tiny crystals in muscles and tissues - initiating pain. Removing these key foods can make a vast difference in dealing with many ongoing, chronic issues such as Fibromyalgia, vulvodynia and aches and pains often associated with aging.


Low Histamine Diet

Another set of foods which some find they need to avoid are the high histamine foods. I will post more on this in a future blog, but  this diet needs to avoid any fermented or cured foods, and foods which cause a release of histamine, such as tomatoes and shell fish.

So a large proportion of my time as a Nutritional Therapist, is working with clients to help them find the right diet approach which works with their specific needs. However, there are a lot of people who don't need to address health issues, but just want to find a diet that helps them to feel their best and keep off any extra pounds. This is where diet choice can come in. Is a vegetarian diet better for your heart? What exactly is a paleo diet? Does a Mediterranean diet mean you eat plates of pasta?!!


Paleo, Mediterranean &  Vegetarian Diets Compared

A few years ago the Institute of Functional Medicine held a conference in San Francisco to debate the comparative benefits of the Paleo, Mediterranean and Vegetarian diets. These diets - particularly the paleo and vegetarian diets - are poles apart.  And yet there were key areas on which all three parties agreed. In particular, when followed properly, each of these diets avoid processed and high sugar foods - the key contributors to heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Dr Masley helpfully summarised the conference, pointing out the areas of both agreement and disagreement:


 Areas of Agreement

  1. Everyone should have at least 30% of their calorie intake from vegetables and fruits, especially those with a low glycemic load (i.e. lower in carbohydrate). Since veg are low in calories, to gain 30% calories from veg, it needs to provide 50% of the total food eaten.
  1. Everyone should have at least 1-2 handfuls of nuts daily; nuts and seeds are great for our health.
  1. If you eat animal protein, it should be clean animal protein.Seafood should be wild caught fish. Clean animal protein should be organic, free-range poultry, and grass-fed, grass-finished beef—clearly not hormone, antibiotic, and pesticide enriched animal protein produced in many commercial factories.
    • For the sake of the planet, it is also better to eat low on the food chain, such as rabbit and poultry over beef and pork.
  1. Nobody should be eating low fat. But fats need to come from healthy sources—hormone and pesticide free.
  1. Everyone should avoid high glycemic load foods that have been processed, such as bread, crackers, rice and potato products, and anything made with flour.
  1. And with the best of eating, we still need a supplement to get our key nutrients, like vitamin D, omega 3 fats, and other key nutrients.


Areas of Disagreement

Here is where they disagreed. They didn’t find common ground on sources and quantities of protein, or regarding beans and whole grains:

For legumes, the Paleo plan recommended none, as they have a few compounds that block nutrient absorption. The trouble with this is that beans are super high in nutrients and fiber, and blood test findings have noted that consuming beans has powerful and beneficial effects. The vegetarian and Mediterranean diet proponents truly made the point that we would benefit from eating beans daily. So yes, beans should stay on the menu

For whole grains, the Paleo plan recommended none, because of their glycemic load (blood sugar jump). Both the vegetarian and Mediterranean diet proponents accepted small quantities of whole grains, but not nearly as much as consumed by most Americans today.  Everyone agreed that if you have a gluten intolerance, you need to totally avoid all gluten products (wheat, rye, barley).For protein, no surprises here:

  1. Paleo - 30% of the diet comes from animal protein

  2. Mediterranean - no fixed amount of protein, but it comes from a mixture of lean animal protein and bean.

  3. Vegetarian - more beans, soy, and protein powders.


They all agreed that the most challenging part is that many, if not most Americans trying to following these diets, are doing it wrong.


Where Diet Following is Going Wrong

  1. The Paleo followers are poisoning themselves with dirty protein and animal fat—eating commercial sources loaded with hormones and chemicals, and they are clearly not getting the 5-7 cups of vegetables and fruits daily required to benefit from this type of eating plan

  2. The Mediterranean followers are eating far too much bread and pasta. If you are a farmer and physically active 6-8 hours per day, clearly you need more calories, and whole grains, even in the form of flour, can provide these nutrients. But for most people struggling to exercise for 7-10 hours per week, they can’t handle this high glycemic (sugar) load

  3. The Vegetarian followers are eating too many refined carbs and processed foods. To benefit, they need to stick to unprocessed food. They also have to ensure they get their protein from beans, soy, and protein powders, omega-3 fats from seaweed or a supplement, and enough vitamin B 12.


So it isn't really so much about which diet plan you choose to follow, but rather how you follow it. Foods need to be as close to their natural state as possible to provide maximum nutrients and limit unhelpful additives, refined grains and sugars. In my experience in Nutritional Therapy, different people will thrive on different diets, so it is a matter of finding the right approach for each individual. For example, long-standing vegetarians are find the nutritional benefit of adding bone broth into the diet to support health - particularly during times of extended convalescing.


So as we start 2018, and you are perhaps wanting to shed some weight or increase general health, why not get in touch with me to book a consultation to help you find an eating pattern to meet your needs for the New Year?







Sunshine Vitamin

So far this summer we haven’t seen too much sunshine, but the last couple of days have been an improvement here in Essex, and we have enjoyed the almost-forgotten-experience of warm sun! Taking just 10 minutes to be in the sun around lunch time is the best way to increase your vitamin D levels. The following article by Nutri explains.


There’s been much talk in recent years about growing levels of vitamin D deficiency in the UK population.  A recent survey in the UK showed that more than 50% of the adult population have insufficient levels of vitamin D and that 16% have severe deficiency.  What many people don’t realise is that very few foods naturally contain vitamin D so the solution is not as simple as just getting more of this essential nutrient in our diets.  Fortified milk, egg yolks and oily fish are the best sources, but we certainly cannot rely on food to provide us with optimal amounts of vitamin D on a daily basis.  In fact, the major source (80 – 100%) of vitamin D is actually sunshine!  Vitamin D is primarily manufactured in the skin on contact with sunshine.

Modern lifestyles are causing vitamin D deficiency

A modern day lack of bare skin exposure to sunlight is a major cause of vitamin D deficiency.  Millions of years ago, our ancestors lived naked in the sun, spending most of the day working and travelling outside.  Over the years, we have put on clothes and started working inside, travelling in cars and living in cities where buildings block the sun.  In addition to this, in more recent years, skin cancer scares have further minimised sun exposure for all ages, especially for children.  The recommended liberal use of high factor sunscreen has had additional negative impacts on the skin’s natural vitamin D production process.  Before the sun scare, 90% of human vitamin D stores came from skin production not dietary sources.  When you look at how our lifestyles have evolved to cut out the sun’s contact with our skin, it is easy to see why we now have such epidemic proportions of vitamin D deficiency.

Know how to safely increase vitamin D in the sun

In addition to supplementation, it’s a good idea to consider upping your bare skin exposure to sunlight to optimise your vitamin D levels.  This is easier said than done however, as concerns over skin cancer have left people feeling worried about leaving the house without a full covering of SPF 40.

In response to these concerns, we’ve put together a simple guide to safe sun exposure so you can maximize your own body’s production of vitamin D whilst keeping safe in the sun.

Simple guide to safe sun exposure:

 • How much sun? – Between 10 and 15 minutes in the UK summer sun without sunscreen is considered to be a safe balance between adequate vitamin D levels and any risk of skin cancer.  The time required to increase vitamin D is typically short and less than the time needed to redden or burn.

 • What time of day? – Midday in the summer is best, or as close to this time as possible.  This is down to the angle of the sun and a higher chance that the vitamin-D producing UVB rays can get through.  Your shadow gives a good clue as to whether you are producing vitamin D.  If it’s longer than you are tall (as happens in winter for most of the day) it’s unlikely you are making any vitamin D.  However, in summer, when your shadow is shorter, especially around midday, you are more likely to produce vitamin D.

 • How much bare skin? – Large areas exposed to the sun’s rays, such as the back, will produce more vitamin D.  Completely naked is best but not very practical!! The more skin that is exposed, the greater the chance of producing vitamin D before burning.

 • How often? – At least several times a week is recommended

Enjoying the sun safely, while taking care not to burn, can provide the benefits of vitamin D without unduly raising the risk of skin cancer.





Is Fizzy Water Healthy?

Drinking more water is top of the list for supporting health. Keeping well hydrated is essential for immune health, skin condition, encouraging bowel regularity, flushing out toxins and minimising headaches. In my effort to encourage clients to consume more water, a question I am regularly asked is whether Sparkling ‘fizzy’ water is good or bad. Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE at Authority Nutrition, has brought together some related research, to enable us to drink sparkling mineral water with a clear conscience! The article helpfully starts with identifying the difference between the not-so-healthy soda waters and tonic waters, compared to pure, sparkling mineral water.

Extracts from Spritzler’s article:

Carbonated water is a refreshing beverage and a good alternative to sugary soft drinks. However, concerns have been raised that it may be bad for your health. This article takes a detailed look at the health effects of carbonated water.

What is Carbonated Water?

Carbonated water is water that has been infused with carbon dioxide gas under pressure. This produces a bubbly drink that’s also known as sparkling water, club soda, soda water, seltzer water and fizzy water. With the exception of seltzer water, they usually have salt added to improve the taste. Sometimes small amounts of other minerals are included.

Natural sparkling mineral waters, such as Perrier and San Pellegrino, are different. These waters are captured naturally from a mineral spring, and tend to contain minerals and sulphur compounds. These waters are often carbonated as well.

Tonic water is a form of carbonated water that contains a bitter compound calledquinine, along with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.

Carbonated Water is Acidic

Carbon dioxide and water react chemically to produce carbonic acid, a weak acid that’s been shown to stimulate the same nerve receptors in your mouth as mustard. This triggers a burning, prickly sensation that can be both irritating and enjoyable for many people .

The pH of carbonated water is 3–4, which means it’s slightly acidic. However, drinking an acidic beverage like carbonated water does not make your body more acidic. Your kidneys and lungs remove excess carbon dioxide. This keeps your blood at a slightly alkaline pH of 7.35–7.45, regardless of what you eat or drink.

Does it Affect Dental Health?

One of the biggest concerns about sparkling water is its effect on teeth, since the enamel is directly exposed to acid. There is very little research on this topic, but one study found that sparkling mineral water damaged enamel only slightly more than still water. Furthermore, it was 100 times less damaging than a sugary soft drink.

…Plain sparkling water appears to pose little risk to dental health. It’s only the sugary types that are harmful. If you’re concerned about dental health, try drinking sparkling water with a meal or rinsing your mouth with plain water after drinking it.

It May Increase Feelings of Fullness

Carbonated water may also help you feel full longer than plain water does. Sparkling water may help food remain in the first part of the stomach for longer, which can trigger a sensation of fullness. I

It May Help Relieve Constipation

People who experience constipation may find that drinking sparkling water helps relieve their symptoms. In a two-week study of 40 elderly people who had suffered strokes, average bowel movement frequency nearly doubled in the group that drank carbonated water, compared to the group that drank tap water. What’s more, the participants reported a 58% decrease in symptoms.

There’s also evidence that sparkling water may improve other symptoms of indigestion, including stomach pain.

Does Carbonated Water Affect Bone Health?

Many people believe that carbonated beverages are bad for bones because of their high acid content. However, research suggests the carbonation isn’t to blame. A large observational study of more than 2,500 people found that cola was the only beverage associated with significantly lower bone mineral density. Carbonated water appeared to have no effect on bone health.

Unlike carbonated water and clear soda, cola drinks contain a lot of phosphorus. The researchers proposed that the cola drinkers may have been consuming too much phosphorus and not enough calcium. This is a potential risk factor for bone loss.


Does it Affect Heart Health?

There’s very limited research on how carbonated water affects heart health, but the existing evidence is positive. In the same group of 18 postmenopausal women from the bone health study, the researchers measured indicators of heart health. Those who drank sodium-rich carbonated water had a decrease in LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol, inflammatory markers and blood sugar. What’s more, they also had an increase in HDL (the “good”) cholesterol.

Additionally, the estimated risk of developing heart disease within 10 years was 35% lower for those drinking the carbonated water, compared to the control water. However, since this was only one small study, a lot more research needs to be done before drawing conclusions.

So is Carbonated Water Actually Bad For You?

There is currently no evidence that carbonated or sparkling water is bad for you. It is not really that harmful for dental health and seems to have no effect on bone health. Interestingly, a carbonated drink may even enhance digestion by improving swallowing ability and reducing constipation.

It’s also a calorie-free beverage that causes a pleasurable bubbly sensation. Many people prefer it over still water. There’s no reason to give up this beverage if you enjoy it. In fact, it may actually improve your overall health.


Read the full article with footnotes here





The three questions that reveal if you have a drinking problem (even if you think you don’t have one)


There are a number of reason why I may consider it beneficial for a client to avoid alcohol while working to support health nutritionally. Beers and wines contain sugars which can upset blood sugar balance and also encourage unhelpful yeasts in the gut, such as Candida albicans. For this reason I am often asked whether spirits are more acceptable. Unfortunately, the answer is still 'no', since although spirits may be lower in sugar content the alcohol content provides an additional problem. Medicinenet.com says that alcohol is considered a poison by the body, and therefore all efforts are made to excrete it, which impacts some of the body's other mechanisms, including the ability to keep blood sugar levels balanced. Those who frequently drink heavily can decrease the effectiveness of insulin, resulting in high blood sugar (diabetic state).
You don't have to be a heavy drinker for blood sugar to be impacted however.Research has shown that alcohol consumption can increase insulin secretion, leading to low blood sugar. It can also affect the normal hormonal response that would work to balance out blood glucose levels, so once blood sugar is low the body struggles to rectify the problem. Drinking as little as 2 ounces of alcohol on an empty stomach can lead to very low blood sugar levels.
It is therefore with interest that I read the latest report from  What Doctors Don't Tell You, raising three questions to ensure that those who do drink are in control of the levels that they consume.
You could be fooling yourself about your drinking habits, even if you think you’re staying within the ‘safe drinking’ guidelines of one of two glasses of wine a day—and there are three questions you can ask yourself in order to find out.
To discover whether you have a drinking problem when you really don’t think you do, ask yourself these questions:
1.    Have people annoyed you by criticising your drinking?
2.    Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
3.    Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover?
Answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, and you should look at cutting back on your drinking, even if you think you’re staying within the recommended ‘safe’ daily intake of one or two small glasses of wine.
People who are drinking this amount could still suffer severe memory loss in old age, say researchers from the University of Exeter.  In fact, people who claim to be moderate drinkers—and who stay within the safe drinking guidelines—are still twice as likely as a non-drinker to have memory problems.
Their discovery was based on an analysis of 6,542 people who were aged between 51 and 61 in 1992, 164 of whom suffered either severe cognitive or memory loss over the following 19 years. A history of ‘alcohol use disorder’, which included people drinking within safe limits, doubled the chance of suffering severe memory loss, but didn’t seem to affect cognitive ability to any great extent.
This suggests that the safe drinking guidelines aren’t safe at all, says lead researcher Dr Ian Lang, and that drinking every day could lead to brain damage and memory loss which isn’t reversible.
(Source: American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 2014; doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2014.06.001)
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Sugar Cravings

 Reducing sugars in the diet is an important part of my usual nutritional recommendations. The following article by Mandy King at MindBodyGreen has some helpful comments on how to manage sugar cravings:

It’s now widely accepted that sugar is responsible for more than just cavities! Diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer have all been attributed in some way to sugar intake.

This is definitely reason for alarm. Not only do many of the packaged foods we eat contain large amounts of sugar, but studies have shown sugar to have similar addictive qualities to that of opiate drugs. Regardless of your intentions to quit sugar, willpower might not be enough.

As a certified nutritional practitioner, these are the top five tips I give my clients, and use myself, to manage cravings and get off of sugar:

1. Eat a high protein breakfast.


Starting the day off with a large dose of protein (15-20g) helps you maintain a steady blood sugar level throughout the day. Sugar cravings are much easier to avoid if you do not let your blood sugar spike too high and then dip too low. Eggs … are great options.

2. Snack on healthy fats.

Fats help you feel full, reducing the likelihood you will reach for the sweets. Not all fats, however, are created equal.

A good fat source that I recommend is coconut oil, as it’s a medium chain triglyceride that the body uses right away for energy, rather than storing it as fat. A simple tablespoon or two of coconut oil will leave you feeling full and energized. If the thought of it on its own doesn’t make you salivate, use it in your baking!

3. Eliminate artificial sweeteners.

Although artificial sweeteners are calorie-free, a Yale study has shown that certain sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose can actually increase your sugar cravings. Consuming these zero calorie sweeteners reduces the brain’s dopamine levels, leaving the body feeling an intense craving for sugar, which will increase brain dopamine. Avoid this vicious cycle altogether and stay away from artificial sweeteners.

4. Sleep a minimum of 8 hours a night.

Two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, are closely linked to hunger. Ghrelin triggers the hunger sensation, while leptin causes feelings of satiation. With prolonged sleep deprivation, leptin production decreases, and ghrelin production increases, causing the body to feel hungry and therefore increasing the likelihood of reaching for the sweets.

5. Sweeten with cinnamon.

There’s no denying that we’re programmed to like the sweet taste of food but there are natural ingredients that can be added to recipes to provide a hint of sweetness, without the sugar. A great one for …. baking or breakfast smoothies is cinnamon. Not only does cinnamon add flavour to your food, but just 1/2 teaspoon daily helps lower your blood sugar levels, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.


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Encourage Detoxification

For clients following a nutritional programme to support gut ecology it is vitally important to encourage detoxification as much as possible. The gut yeast Candida albicans is known to release at least 79 toxins, and this number actually increases as the yeast is starved by an appropriate diet and killed by specific supplements. The effect of this number of toxins can be quite debilitating and this is why on a Nutritionhelp programme we recommend that the initial approach to deal with yeast overgrowth is taken in stages. It is very important that the supplement chosen to kill the yeast is taken at least 4 weeks after the yeast and sugar-free diet has been started. This allows any initial toxins from the starved yeast to be off-loaded before any specific supplement (such as caprylic acid) is introduced to work with the Candida .

Once a yeast-free supplement is started (formerly called antifungals), progress needs to be slow, measured, and monitored, as increasing the supplement too quickly will lead to a build-up of toxins, increasing symptoms and causing the client to feel quite unwell. If this happens I always recommend a complete break from the supplement (such as caprylic acid or oregano oil) to allow the body time to off-load the toxins. Once the client is feeling on a more even keel, the supplement can be reintroduced, perhaps even more slowly.

Someone’s capacity for detoxification can depend on a large number of factors, and will vary from client to client. Certain nutrients and foods may help support detoxification, so the following article by Michelle Schoffro Cook at Care2 offers some helpful suggestions. Of course, these foods to support detoxification are beneficial not only for those on a yeast and sugar-free programme but are good to include regularly in any diet.

When it comes to cleansing your body of harmful toxins, food really is the best medicine. Many of your favorite foods also cleanse the liver, kidneys, skin, intestines, and other detoxification systems. Add more of these nutritious and delicious springtime foods to your diet to help ward off the harmful effects of bad food choices, pollution, food additives, second-hand smoke, among other toxins. Here are my top picks for seasonal spring detox foods:

Artichokes – Artichokes are a highly underrated vegetable.  They are high in vitamin C and fibre and help to increase bile production in the body, which helps the intestines eliminate toxins from the body. Artichokes also contain a substance that helps the liver break down fatty acids.  This is good news because the average diet and lifestyle creates tremendous strain on the liver’s ability to filter out toxins. 

Asparagus –   This flowering perennial is an excellent source of vitamin K and folate, the latter of which is particularly necessary for pregnant women. Asparagus also contains vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B6, niacin, manganese, potassium, magnesium and selenium. (Emma’s note: Use it to dip into a boiled egg to introduce more vegetables at breakfast)

Garlic – Forget worrying about your breath and enjoy the potent healing properties of fresh garlic. Where I live, garlic is usually planted in the fall and the ready for harvest in late spring.  Garlic is a relative of onion and shares many of its same health benefits. 
 It can destroy harmful bacteria, intestinal parasites, and viruses in the body, helps cleanse buildup from the arteries and lowers blood pressure. Garlic is well known for its anti-cancer and antioxidant properties and also helps cleanse the respiratory tract by expelling mucous buildup in the lungs and sinuses. Keep in mind that store-bought garlic powder offers none of these benefits found in fresh, easy-to-grow garlic. Don’t be afraid to give fresh garlic a starring role in your cooking.

Onions – Onions are as versatile as they are health promoting.  Research on these members of the allium family has uncovered powerful antioxidant and anti-cancer capabilities. Onions also thin and cleanse the blood and lower LDL cholesterol without lessening HDL cholesterol. Rich in biotin (which aids sugar and fat metabolism) and phytonutrients like polyphenols, onions also help detoxify the respiratory tract and fight asthma, bronchitis, hay fever, and diabetes. Onions, like garlic, help cleanse the body of viruses and the intestines of harmful bacteria.

Watercress – Not the most common leafy green used in salads but certainly one of the healthiest, this aquatic plant increases detoxification enzymes in the body and contains phytonutrients that have successfully inhibited carcinogens. In a study at the Norwich Food Research Centre in the United Kingdom, smokers who were given 170 grams of watercress per day eliminated higher than average amounts of carcinogens in their urine, thereby reducing their numbers in their body.  Watercress has a mild, peppery flavour that enhances salads, soups and sandwiches. 

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Air Fresheners

It is not unusual for clients with an overgrowth of the gut yeast Candida albicans to be sensitive to a number of environmental factors, such as perfumes and house-hold paint. A contributing factor to this situation is helpfully explained by Ralph Golan in his book, ‘Optimal Wellness’.Golan yeast immune response  In the left hand diagram, there is a balance between beneficial bacteria and yeast (the large dark dots), allowing the helper cells (H) to stimulate the the B cells to make antibodies. Antibody production (A) is kept in balance by suppressor cells (S), preventing B cells from over producing antibodies.

In the right hand diagram, the small grey dots represent yeast toxins. These are produced since intestinal yeast and beneficial bacteria are no longer in the correct ratio (dark dots). Yeast toxins inhibit suppressor cell (S) function, so now helper cells (H) are unopposed in their production of antibodies, leading to inappropriate and over-production of antibodies (A). This can potentially result in a heightened state of allergy, with an individual showing sensitivity to environmental factors and foods. Working to balance gut ecology is therefore key, and a consultation with me will help to provide the guidance and recommendations to do this.

Limiting environmental toxins in your home may be helpful while working to support health nutritionally. One area to consider is air fresheners, which are now seen as an essential part of keeping a home clean and fresh, but ironically they may be filling your home with toxins. Kimberly Snyder has written a helpful post on the dangers of air fresheners and recommends some natural alternatives.

Air fresheners come in many different forms, from air and fabric sprays to plug in “burners” to solids. While they can perfume the air of your home, they don’t actually neutralize smells and they can wreak havoc on your home’s air quality.

What’s in Air Freshener

According to the EPA1, air freshener contains four basic ingredients: formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, aerosol propellants, and p-dichlorobenzene.

Formaldehyde can cause a number of health effects including:

  • Watery eyes
  • Burning eye, nose, throat and other mucous membranes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea
  • Asthma attacks

Petroleum distillates come from petrochemical manufacturing, which contribute to air, soil, and groundwater pollution. The effects on human health include:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Asthma
  • Chemical pneumonia
  • Pulmonary damage

Aerosol propellants can harm earth’s ozone layer. Likewise, they can damage human health including:

  • Increased cancer risk
  • Breathing problems
  • Development of chronic health issues

Paradichlorobenzene (p-DCB) is often found in mothballs and may cause:

  • Anemia
  • Skin lesions
  • Liver damage
  • Loss of appetite
  • Changes to the blood

Of course, air fresheners also contain fragrance, often in the form of perfumed chemicals.

Indoor Air Quality

It’s quite ironic, really, that something designed to “improve” indoor air quality by making it smell better actually winds up making your home more toxic. Studies show that use of air fresheners in the home can trigger asthma and allergies, along with other breathing problems. Because your home is a relatively closed space, adding elements that diminish air quality can harm your family and contribute to the toxic brew of chemicals that wind up trapped in your system. Air fresheners can also harm pets, which have a faster metabolism. They may also be especially dangerous for people with pulmonary conditions such as asthma, allergies, or COPD.

Alternatives to Air Freshener

Everyone’s home can get a little stale from time to time. If you’d like to sweeten your environment, however, you can make far healthier choices than air fresheners. Here are a few suggestions.

1. Make a pomander. Stud an orange with whole cloves and cure it in the oven on low heat for about an hour – or place it in a paper bag somewhere cool and dry for about six weeks. Hang it with a ribbon or set in a pretty bowl to sweetly scent the area.

2. Open the windows. Every house can benefit from a good airing out. On a day with good air quality and a slight breeze, open your windows for a few hours. Open windows on all sides of the house to create a cross breeze that gets air moving.

3. Simmer spices. You can simmer spices such as whole cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg on the stove top or in a simmering pot.

4. Odour absorbers: Use a neutral odour absorbent such as a box of baking soda in a stinky area, or sprinkle especially smelly spots (such as the garbage can) with a little vinegar and baking soda.

5. Vinegar can remove odors from surfaces when you spray a little on and wipe it up.

6. Create your own potpourri from bulk herbs, flowers, and spices and leave a little in a bowl.

7. Use essential oils. Dab a little on a light bulb or a warmer to gently scent a room.

8. Put a little citrus peel down the garbage disposal and turn it on to de-stink your drain.

9. Eliminate cooking odors by placing a shallow bowl of vinegar nearest the scent.

10. Soak a cotton ball in vanilla and place it in a bowl where you want your home to smell better.


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Candida and Food Sensitivity


Many clients coming to me find that they have developed a sensitivity or intolerance to certain foods. A major factor for this may be that with the balance of microbes in the digestive tract out of ratio, gut yeast, such as Candida albicans, has increased and become active, changing from its yeast form (below left) to its fungal filamentous form (below right).



In this fungal form, yeast is able to burrow into the gut wall. This can cause a good deal of irritation and may lead to an intolerance reaction, where specific foods in the diet, exacerbate this irritation, increasing symptoms of bloating and wind. Dairy, wheat and the other gluten grains are among the main culprit foods to consider as potentially adding to the discomfort.


A combination of stress, medications, and toxins, together with Candida burrowing into the gut wall, can impact the integrity of the digestive tract. This might allow undigested food particles to pass through the gut wall and enter the blood stream. This is commonly referred to as ‘leaky gut’. Once in the blood stream,  antibodies recognise that the food particles should not be present in the blood, and so an immune response is set off. This might impact mood, panic, headaches, or lead to a number or seemingly unrelated health issues.




So whilst I may initially recommend a basic sugar and yeast-free diet programme to support gut ecology, this may need to be adapted for each individual, according to their symptoms and the condition of the digestive tract. Avoiding wheat and/or the other gluten grains while reducing gut yeast may be a first step in allowing the digestive tract to heal.


Including a variety of foods in the diet prevents the over-use of any one food, therefore reducing the possibility of a sensitivity reaction to that food. Since wheat forms the basis of so many meals in the West, it is a good idea to experiment with a variety of gluten-free grains to replace wheat. Following is a recipe for minestrone soup, made with quinoa rather than pasta. The recipe is by Sylvia Bianco at MIND BODY GREEN. Play around with the ingredients according to what vegetables you have available.



Minestrone is a thick vegetable/bean soup, usually with the addition of pasta. It has a long history dating back to pre-Roman days, and it used to be made primarily with leftovers by poor families looking to stretch their food resources. It’s considered a part of la cucina povera, or poor kitchen. It evolved over the years, as any good recipe does, reflecting the economies and eating habits of the people making it, so I thought it fitting that I add quinoa (instead of pasta) and kale to this classic soup.

Don’t let all the ingredients scare you. All you’re really doing is chopping the veggies into a medium dice (about the size of popped corn) and putting everything in a big pot. It’s fast, easy and ready to eat in about 40 minutes without much fuss from you, and it’s good for more than one meal. Make a really big pot and freeze what you don’t use in quart containers. They last for months and will be a lifesaver when you can’t or don’t want to cook.


§  1 white onion – medium diced

§  2 celery stalks – medium diced

§  3 carrots – medium diced

§  2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil – or enough to cover the bottom of the pot

§  2 cloves garlic – finely chopped

§  2 cups fresh zucchini  (courgette) – medium diced (about 1 medium or 2 small)

§  2 cups green beans – cut in 1 inch pieces

§  1 bell pepper – medium diced

§  1.75 lbs of fresh tomatoes or 1 x 28 ounces can crushed tomatoes

§  4 cups of water

§  1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans

§  1 15-ounce can of chickpeas

§  1 cup quinoa

§  2 cups kale – stems removed

§  1 teaspoon turmeric (or to taste)

§  Pinch of red pepper flakes

§  Salt and pepper to taste



1. Place a large stockpot over low heat and add the olive oil, onions, carrots and celery. Cook for about 5 minutes or until softened.
2. Add the garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook for about one minute or until garlic begins to color.
3. Add the zucchini and the green beans, season with salt and pepper, add the turmeric, stir and cook for about 3 minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes and the water, raise heat to high and bring to a boil.
5. Lower the heat to medium/low and allow the soup to gently boil (uncovered) for about 20 minutes.
6. Add the quinoa and cover for 15 minutes.
7. Remove the cover, add the kale and the canned beans (more water if needed) bring back to a gentle boil and cook for another 5 minutes or just until the kale is tender.







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Avoid Sugar to Support Hearth Health

Frequently with clients I will make recommendations to encourage a beneficial balance of bacteria in the gut, since this can impact health throughout the body, not just in the digestive tract. If gut ecology is out of balance any number of symptoms may result, from a weakened immune system to tinnitus, from muscle aches to hormonal issues.

Fundamental in supporting gut ecology is to avoid sugar in all its forms. Once the ratio of microbes in the digestive tract are balanced, to return to a refined and sugary diet will only encourage the yeasts to get out of control again, potentially leading to a re-occurrence of symptoms associated with excess yeast in the gut. However, the problems of sugar are not limited to its impact on the flora within the intestines. Its over-use in the modern Western diet is behind all manner of health issues. For more than 30 years I have been warning about the pitfalls of a high sugar diet and now there is increasing research to demonstrate that the early nutritional experts that I was reading all those years ago, were not wrong. Those already following my sugar-free dietary recommendations will be pleased to know that their diet will be supporting more than just gut ecology.

Dr Mark Hyman summarises the latest research on how it is sugar and not saturated fats that is behind the heart attacks that are epidemic in our society.

It’s over. The debate is settled.

It’s sugar, not fat, that causes heart attacks.

Oops. Fifty years of doctors’ advice and government eating guidelines have been wrong. We’ve been told to swap eggs for Cheerios. But that recommendation is dead wrong. In fact, it’s very likely that this bad advice has killed millions of Americans.

A rigorously done new study shows that those with the highest sugar intake had a four-fold increase in their risk of heart attacks compared to those with the lowest intakes. That’s 400%! Just one 20-ounce soda increases your risk of a heart attack by about 30%.

This study of more than 40,000 people, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, accounted for all other potential risk factors including total calories, overall diet quality, smoking, cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and alcohol.

This follows on the heels of decades of research that has been mostly ignored by the medical establishment and policy makers. In fact, the Institute of Medicine recommends getting no more than 25% of your total calories from added sugar. Really?? This study showed that your risk of heart attacks doubles if sugar makes up 20% of your calories.

Yet more than 70% of Americans consume 10% of their daily calories from sugar. And about 10% of Americans consume one in every four of their calories from sugar.

Failed Dietary Guidelines

U.S. Dietary Guidelines provide no limit for added sugar, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still lists sugar as a “generally regarded as safe” (GRAS) substance. That classification lets the food industry add unlimited amounts of sugar to our food. At least the American Heart Association recommends that our daily diet contain no more than 5% to 7.5% added sugar. Yet most of us are eating a lot more. Most of us don’t know that a serving of tomato sauce has more sugar than a serving of Oreo cookies, or that fruit yogurt has more sugar than a Coke, or that most breakfast cereals — even those made with whole grain — are 75% sugar. That’s not breakfast, it’s dessert!

This is a major paradigm shift. For years, we’ve been brainwashed into thinking that fat causes heart attacks and raises cholesterol, and that sugar is harmless except as a source of empty calories. They are not empty calories. As it turns out, sugar calories are deadly calories. Sugar causes heart attacks, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer and dementia, and is the leading cause of liver failure in America.

The biggest culprit is sugar-sweetened beverages including sodas, juices, sports drinks, teas and coffees. They are by far the single biggest source of sugar calories in our diet. In fact, more than 37% of our sugar calories come from soda. The average teenage boy consumes 34 teaspoons of sugar a day, or about 544 calories from sugar. Even more troubling, this isn’t just putting kids at risk for heart attacks at some remote later date in their lives. It’s killing them before their 20th birthday.

This new research syncs with decades of data on how sugar causes insulin resistance, high triglycerides, lower HDL (good) cholesterol and dangerous small LDL (bad) cholesterol. It also triggers the inflammation we now know is at the root of heart disease.

And fats, including saturated fats, have been unfairly blamed. With the exception of trans fats, fats are actually protective. This includes omega-3 fats, nuts and olive oil, which was proven to reduce heart attack risk by more than 30% in a recent large randomized controlled study.

Here’s the simple fact: Sugar calories are worse than other calories. All calories are not created equal. A recent study of more than 175 countries found that increasing overall calories didn’t increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, but increasing sugar calories did — dramatically.

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Fats or Carbs for health?

A couple of clients have commented to me about the Horizon documentary shown last week, supposedly assessing the merits of either a high fat or high carbohydrate diet. These two approaches are hot topics at the moment in the dieting world. Nutritionally however, we have to ask what sort of fats and what sort of carbohydrates should be included in the diet.


My nutritional recommendations include a removing of refined carbohydrates and all sugars – those that can have an almost immediate impact on blood glucose levels. I also advise using quality oils for cooking and dressings. Tailor-making this approach for each client, together with relevant suggestions for protein and vegetables, frequently sees improved weight, balanced blood sugar and increased energy. Sporting clients have told me they are beating their own personal bests in physical activity.

For the majority of clients this approach is fine. Some clients may need to avoid some whole, unrefined grains (such as wheat or the other gluten grains) and occasionally a client may not be able to tolerate any grains for a while. On the other hand, some clients come to me who are unable to tolerate any type of fats or oils in the diet. While these are  extreme and infrequent situations, it highlights how individual we all are, and how important tailor made nutritional recommendations can be.

So if you are left wondering as a result of the TV documentary what sort of diet you should be following, you may like to consider a nutritional consultation with me, to gain your own personalisced diet plan to support health. Call or email me if you want to talk through your requirements.

If you are interested in reading Dr John Briffa’s comments on the Horizon documentary, you can read it here.

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Healthy Weight

It was hard to miss the number of articles and reports within the UK last week relating to National Obesity Awareness Week. The BBC reported that researchers from Imperial College London believe up to two million people in England could be eligible for weight loss surgery, while a new report compiled by Oxfam shows that the Netherlands has the healthiest diet with the UK coming in at number 13. One story highlighted the fact that one in three people in the UK say they can’t afford to eat healthily.

Whilst limited income is a serious consideration, there are many ways we can support health that are actually low-cost. Three simple ideas:

  1. Drink more water. Fizzy drinks are available at really low prices, but water is always available for free in this country, and children and adults alike benefit from increasing water consumption. Simply drinking  more water each day can help with constipation and headaches. If funds are available, it is helpful to buy a water filter.
  2. Eat beans and legumes. Adding quality protein, fibre and nutrients to meals, beans and lentils are cheap and versatile, making delicious meals in their own right and bulking out meat dishes to make them go further.
  3. Make bean sprouts. Fresh vegetables may be more expensive than refined breads and cakes, but bean sprouts are a cheap way of adding vitamins, minerals and enzymes into the diet on a regular basis. Children love to join in preparing and watering the beans and will benefit from the fresh nutrients.

If you feel you need help in supporting your own health and encouraging optimal weight, get in touch to book a nutritional consultation.

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Christmas Ideas!

a number of my clients are following a yeast and sugar-free diet to support gut ecology, and can feel quite daunted about how to enjoy Christmas food without slipping on the diet. This actually doesn’t have to be an issue, as there are plenty of delicious foods that can be enjoyed over the Christmas celebrations, that won’t encourage yeast to thrive, or leave you trying to loose the extra 5lbs in weight that is typically gained over the season!

  • The main Christmas meal of a quality meat such as turkey, with plenty of steamed vegetables, provides a good cross-section of nutrients and is a perfect yeast-free meal.
  • Oven roast potatoes, sweet potatoes and parsnips with a little extra virgin olive oil, keeping the temperature below 180°C to prevent damaging the beneficial properties of the oil. Don’t over-cook as this may increase the natural sugar content of these root vegetables.
  • Add two onions cut into chunks and a couple of garlic cloves with the meat when roasting. Rather than add extra fat, baste the meat with juices from the pan.
  • Make your own nutritious gravy with meat and vegetable juices, avoiding the artificial flavours, yeast extract and additives in gravy mixes.
    • Place cooking juice from meat in a sauce pan. Skim off the fat. Add enough vegetable cooking water to make a litre of liquid.
    • In a jug mix 2 heaped tablespoons of brown rice flour with enough cold water to form a paste.
    • Stir in ½ cup of the hot meat juices and then tip the paste into the pan with the rest of the juices, stirring all the time to avoid lumps forming.
    • Bring to the boil, stirring all the time.
    • Add more flour, mixing first with cold water and then hot gravy, if you want the gravy thicker.
    •  If you want the gravy thinner or to go further, add some cooking water from the steamed vegetables.
  • Make stuffing with cooked brown rice and chestnuts – either freshly peeled or frozen. See Erica White’s Beat Candida Cookbook for a recipe or try mixing 3 cups of cooked brown rice with 2 cups of cooked, peeled and roughly chopped chestnuts, and one finely chopped onion, gently cooked with extra virgin olive oil. Combine ingredients with an egg, season with freshly ground black pepper and a little low sodium salt and flavour with traditional sage (1/2 -1 teapsoon of the dried herb) or chives.
  • For canapés try:
    • Cucumber cut into 1/2 cm circles topped with a some red pepper hummus and sprinkled with mild paprika
  • Small oatcakes (home-made or sugar-free shop-bought), topped with a slither of avocado and a circle of hard boiled egg and sprinkled with chopped chives
  • Little gem lettuce leaves filled with salmon (fresh or tinned), mashed with a spoon of natural yogurt and sprinkled with finely chopped red onion. If you are dairy-free, try mashing the salmon with a spoon of hummus.
  • For Desserts try:
    • Mini whole grain pancakes (brown rice flour or buckwheat) topped with natural yogurt or Oatly oat cream
    • Cinnamon custard – in a pan whisk  2 tablespoons of fine yellow maize meal with 1/2 pint unsweetened almond milk (or milk alternative of your choice). Gradually  bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Once it has thickened sprinkle with a little cinnamon and pour into a pretty dish. Top with freshly cracked nuts and another sprinkle of cinnamon. This can be poured into a tall glass and allowed to set before serving cold.
    • Creamy rice pudding – cook a cup of whole grain brown rice with a carton of unsweetened almond milk in a low oven for an hour, or until the liquid has been absorbed. Serve hot or cold sprinkled with nutmeg.

Do refer to  Erica’s Beat Candida Cookbook for a wealth of ideas to help you through this season. Some final suggestions to support gut health during the festivities:

  • Relax! The digestive system reacts with stress, so breathe deeply before starting to eat if you have been rushing around to prepare the meal.
  • Chew your food properly to initiate the secretion of enzymes and hormones which regulate digestion further along the process. If you eat too quickly the normal mechanisms that tell you that you are full are by-passed.
  • Wrap up and go for a torch-light walk after meals (children will love this!) to enhance digestion.

I wish you a very happy Christmas and healthy New Year.


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Gift Tokens!

As we count the days down to Christmas, many of us are pressured by the demands of shopping and preparation, making what should be a happy, restful mid-winter holiday become a high stress enterprise! The pressure of choosing the right gift, for the right person, at the right price, can take some of the enjoyment out of December.

The idea of giving a present however, is incredibly special. The desire to show love, appreciation, thankfulness and encouragement with a gift is a wonderful token of friendship or family bond. Some gifts are particularly appreciated when they last longer than the holiday season.

So if you are stumped for a gift idea for a loved one, you may like to consider buying them a gift token for an hours consultation with me. A nutritional consultation will help apply the principles of nutrition to support their own health, whether they are struggling with PMT, aching joints, digestive issues or migraines - the list is endless.  A voucher also includes a Health Plan to take away and four weeks of back-up support as short emails to answer any queries which may crop up, helping the client to proceed confidently with their nutritional recommenations. Drop me an email at nutrition@emma-cockrell.com to find out more.

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Diabetes and Diet

Dr. Stephan Ripich, M.D at My Healing Kitchen, has written a helpful blog on the foods that help support blood sugar levels. Tomorrow, 14th November, is World Diabetes Day so it is an appropriate time to consider how we can be encouraging blood sugar balance naturally. The food suggestions below may be beneficial, but remember, never stop or reduce any prescribed medications for diabetes (or any other health condition) without the full support of your doctor.

 If your doctor has warned you that you are in a ‘pre diabetic’ state, or you are aware that you are struggling with low blood sugar, following a tailor-made diet and supplement programme may well help reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Contact me for more information

The Top 5 Diabetes Super Foods! by Dr Ripich
Even though we live in a pill-popping, drug-oriented culture, more and more people are starting to realize that food is really our best medicine. In 90% of all chronic and degenerative diseases, poor diet is either the direct cause or a significant factor. This is especially true for Type 2 diabetes. There is no stage of Type 2 that can’t be helped by making some smart dietary changes. And the earlier they are made, the more dramatic the health improvements will be.

The “prescription” is simple 

A few simple changes in a patient’s eating habits can actually reverse Type 2 so that all metabolic functions, including the body’s insulin production, return to normal.

Here’s the shorthand version…

  • Quit consuming the foods and beverages that spike your blood sugar and trigger the insulin response (sweets, sodas, juices, plus refined carbs such as bread, baked goods, pasta, chips, and grain-based commercial foods, like breakfast cereals). Over-consuming these can cause Type 2, and even small amounts will make it worse.
  • Start eating more of the foods that heal the damage that insulin-resistance and diabetes have done to your body. Do this by turning your diet into an anti-inflamatory diet as inflammation is one of the root causes of diabetes (beware: inflammation destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas). In this diet try to include plenty of what I call “the diabetes-healing superfoods.” Here are the top 5 according to extensive scientific research…

1. Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) 

If you have diabetes or prediabetes, controlling blood sugar has a huge impact on how you feel — and this marvelous monounsaturated oil can really help. A 2006 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine put people on either a low-fat diet, a Mediterranean diet emphasizing EVOO, or a Mediterranean diet emphasizing nuts. Those getting more olive oil and nuts had significantly lower blood sugar levels than those on the low-fat diet.

Thanks to the powerful antioxidant, oleocanthal (responsible for the strong, peppery “bite” freshly-pressed olive oil produces when consumed) EVOO also reduces inflammation, one of the root causes of diabetes. Getting inflammation under control is essential for healing — and reversing — Type 2 and prediabetes. The study mentioned above also found that the olive oil diet lowers C-reactive protein, an indicator of systemic inflammation.

Unfortunately, the olive oil in your supermarket may not be strong enough. EVOO’s inflammation-fighting properties begin to fade after pressing. The longer it sits around, the weaker it gets. (Most supermarket olive oil can be a year old — or older.) Worse, the olive oil industry is rife with scandals. Because of the premium price it commands, many companies are tempted to fluff up their products with cheaper oils, such as soybean and rapeseed, to their products to maximize profits. Try to find freshly pressed olive oil from a local farm or at your local health food stop.

2. Pacific wild-caught salmon 

In 2010, University of California researchers discovered that the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in cold-water fish improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation. This is good news for folks with any type of blood sugar disorder, but the story keeps getting better. 

A 17-year-long study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that elevated blood levels of omega-3 protect against sudden death from heart disease — while lower levels actually increase the danger. Here’s why this is important: 75% of diabetic fatalities are caused by heart attack or stroke. That’s an astonishing number!

It’s easy to see why preventing and healing cardiovascular disease is so important if you have diabetes — which is why omega-3 fish is a true “diabetes superfood.” You should try to eat two or three servings per week, but be sure to go “wild,” and avoid farm-raised fish. Farmed salmon is notoriously low in omega-3’s and contains unhealthy chemicals such as polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE), is frequently genetically-engineered “Frankenfish” and is raised in ecologically “dirty” conditions.
In Alaska, wild salmon are protected, while farmed salmon are banned. When you purchase salmon labeled “wild Alaskan,” you’re getting a clean product with high levels of omega-3. 

3. Onions 

Onions are one of the top food sources for the trace mineral chromium, which produces a powerful benefit on blood glucose levels. Research shows that chromium helps your body use insulin more efficiently, maintains steady blood sugar levels, and reduces the need for diabetes drugs.

Chromium deficiency and diabetes often accompany each other, according to a study published in Diabetes Care. This isn’t a surprising when you realize that the symptoms of chromium deficiency (such as out-of-control levels of glucose, insulin, triglycerides, and high cholesterol) resemble those of prediabetes.

A recent study published in Biochemistry shows that chromium is an insulin potentiator, meaning that it makes your insulin more effective. For people with insulin resistance or full-blown diabetes, this is a big benefit because chromium lessens your need for your body’s own insulin (or your insulin dose) to normalize your blood sugar levels.

One cup of raw onion (about ½ cup cooked onion) gives you 24mcg of the government’s “adequate intake” recommendation of 25 — 35mcg of chromium. So sauté up a big batch of onions, add some garlic and herbs, and throw them on salads, toss them in soups and fritattas, and use them to smother a juicy, grass-fed burger.

4. Cinnamon 

Chances are you have a cinnamon in your spice cupboard. And chances are you never thought of cinnamon as medicine. However, cinnamon has been used medicinally since ancient times. This popular spice was used in ancient Egypt, China, and India for culinary and medicinal purposes. Cinnamon has been shown to help lower blood glucose levels in people with Type 2 diabetes and even increase the amount of insulin produced in the body. 

A study published in the journal Diabetes Care in 2003 looked at 60 men and women with Type 2 diabetes who were taking diabetes pills. The participants took either 1, 3, or 6 grams of cassia cinnamon or a placebo, in capsule form, for 40 days. After this time, blood glucose levels dropped between 18% and 29% in all three groups that received cinnamon. Also, the participants who had taken the smallest amount of cinnamon (1 gram) continued to have improved blood glucose levels 20 days after they stopped taking it. So make sure to add cinnamon to anything sweet you do eat to counter act the blood sugar spike.

5. Nuts (Bought in shells for Nutritionhelp clients)

These little diabetes-busters are bursting with healthy fats, vitamins, and lots of minerals. If you’re prediabetic, or want to avoid Type 2, eating nuts will cut down your risk. If you already have diabetes, nuts help you manage your blood sugar and weight.

Almonds are particularly beneficial because they’re high in protein and antioxidants, and have a low glycemic index (GI). According to a study published in Metabolism, eating almonds with a meal reduces the GI load of the entire meal!

Nuts contain monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which reverse insulin resistance. And remember the diabetes-heart disease connection? Nuts are another weapon in your heart-healthy arsenal, as studies show that daily consumption of nuts cuts the risk of heart attack by 35%.

The absolute best way to eat nuts is after they have been soaked over night to release their enzyme inhibitors. All you do is take a hand full of nuts and place them in a bowl of water, leave them to sit over night and in the morning discard the water and the nuts are ready to eat.

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Fructose and Fruit Juice

When I work with clients to support health nutritionally I generally incorporate two approaches simultaneously:

1.The removal from the diet of any foods which may be unhelpful for an individual.

2. To add into the diet nutrient-rich foods to provide the necessary vitamins, minerals, amino acids etc. to optimally fuel all the various body systems. This might also include the careful and calculated inclusion of certain nutritional supplements, depending on the needs of the individual.

Returning to consider the first point – the removal of unhelpful foods from the diet – we find that this falls into two main categories. Firstly, there are the foods which may be unhelpful for a specific client – either in the long or short-term. For example it may be beneficial to remove gluten, or wheat, or the nightshade family of vegetables from the diet to help encourage health. This sort of exclusion is considered on a client to client basis, depending on the health of their digestive system, presenting symptoms and nutritional status.

The second category however is more general. It is the avoiding of foods that are so far removed from their original state, so refined, so treated, so processed, that they offer no nutritional value in encouraging optimal health. Into this category the family of processed sugars firmly falls and whilst many would not dispute this, the emerging research regarding the unhelpful role that fruit sugar (fructose) may be playing in the health conditions of the West, is increasingly emerging. Alex Renton, in his article The Demon Drink:war on sugar, comments on this further:

Many scientists have marked fructose as the ring leader in the team of monosaccharides. Lustig, who likes to turn a phrase, calls it the Voldemort of sugars – and it is biggest in the sugar load of soft drinks.

A 240ml glass of orange juice might contain 120 calories of sugar, or sucrose; half of that will be fructose. The fructose will all end up in the liver, which may not be able to metabolise (process) it fully, depleting vital chemicals in the organ and turning into fat. “It’s not about the calories,” says Dr Lustig. “It has nothing to do with the calories. It’s a poison by itself.”

What is undeniable is that problems in the liver in turn contaminate and disable other systems, including the insulin production of the pancreas. The effects are felt ultimately in the heart, the immune system and by producing cancers. Insulin resistance may also be a player in dementia.


“Fructose can fry your liver and cause all the same diseases as alcohol,” Dr Lustig continues. Key to the obesity debate is the charge that high insulin levels interfere with the hormone leptin, which is a signalling device that tells the brain when we’ve consumed enough. So you drink or eat fructose, and then you want more food. Sugary soft drinks deliver the fructose fastest to the organs that can’t handle it. And, of course, they are largely consumed by those most vulnerable to diseases: the poor and the young. For children, every extra daily serving above the average increases the chances of obesity by 60% .

Sarah Boseley continues this thought in her article Smoothies and Fruit Juices are a New Risk to Health:

In the UK, Coca-Cola owns Innocent smoothies while PepsiCo has Tropicana. Launching Tropicana smoothies in 2008, Pepsi’s sales pitch was that the drink would help the nation to reach its five a day fruit and vegetable target. “Smoothies are one of the easiest ways to boost daily fruit intake as each 250ml portion contains the equivalent of 2 fruit portions,” it said at the time.

However, Popkin says the five a day advice needs to change. Drink vegetable juice, he says, but not fruit juice. “Think of eating one orange or two and getting filled,” he said. “Now think of drinking a smoothie with six oranges and two hours later it does not affect how much you eat. The entire literature shows that we feel full from drinking beverages like smoothies but it does not affect our overall food intake, whereas eating an orange does. So pulped-up smoothies do nothing good for us but do give us the same amount of sugar as four to six oranges or a large coke. It is deceiving.”

Nine years ago the two scientists had identified sugar-sweetened soft drinks, full of calories and consumed between meals, as a major cause of soaring obesity in developed countries. But they argue that as people change their drinking habits to avoid carbonated soft drinks, the potential damage from naturally occurring fructose in fruit juices and smoothies is being overlooked.

All sugars are equal in their bad effects, says Popkin – even those described on cereal snack bars sold in health food shops as containing “completely natural” sweeteners. “The most important issue about added sugar is that everybody thinks it’s cane sugar or maybe beet sugar or HFC syrup or all the other syrups but globally the cheapest thing on the market almost is fruit juice concentrate coming out of China. It has created an overwhelming supply of apple juice concentrate. It is being used everywhere and it also gets around the sugar quotas that lots of countries have.”

So what should we be drinking?! Water is the forgotten jewel when it comes to keeping hydrated. All the time we are drinking and eating sweet foods and fruit juice our taste buds become accustomed to the sweetness, making plain water seem bland. It might take up to 4 weeks to re-educate taste buds, but after that time of avoiding sweetened foods, many find a new enjoyment in the taste of natural foods, and this can include water. It is a good idea to use a quality water filter, and for carrying water around with you, a BPA bottle such as the Bobble is helpful and a novelty for children.

If children are already used to drinking fruit juice it is a good idea to begin to water it down, gradually adding more water as they grow accustomed to less sweetness. If you want to make that glass of water a little more interesting try adding a slice of lemon or lime, a slice or two of cucumber, and a sprig of mint. Keeping a glass bottle of filtered water ready-chilled in the fridge is much more inviting than luke-warm water from the tap.

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Fruit Juice and Fizzy Drinks

One of the most important dietary changes that I usually suggest in a consultation is to avoid sugar, in all its varying forms. For clients who are working to support gut ecology – that fine balance of friendly bacteria and unhelpful bacteria and yeasts in the gut – sugar intake can be one of the main ways in which yeast is encouraged. Just as you add a teaspoon of sugar to yeast to get it activated when you are making bread, so the regular consumption of sugar in the diet encourages yeast within the gut, which should only be present in minute amounts, to thrive and over-grow.

However, sugar isn’t just a problem for those needing to support gut flora. There is increasing research regarding how sugar might be behind the obesity, diabetes and heart-health that the West is currently experiencing.

The following excerpt from an article in the Guardian during the summer, makes some interesting observations on the level of sugar that is consumed by many children and young people. Perhaps a revelation to many is that even fruit juice is such a source of concentrated sugar. Yes, the sugar is fructose (fruit sugar) but if it is extracted from the fruit without any pulp and fibre, this is just another source of empty calories.

Alex Renton writes:

The tin of 7UP rolls to a stop at my feet. I pick it up, scowling at the kid on a bike who’d tossed it and missed the litter bin. The can is green and shiny: “Put some play into your every day,” it says. “Escape to a carefree world… Don’t grow up. 7UP.” And underneath, in tiny print, the real info (though you need a calculator to get to the truth): the lemon- and lime-flavoured drink contains a trace of salt, no fat, no fibre and 34.98g of sugar – eight teaspoons – and 135 calories. That’s enough energy for about 15 minutes’ cross-country running. It’s cheap, too. Half the price of milk.

If the stats are right, this teenager in Leith, who threw the empty tin, drinks 287 cans, or the equivalent, a year: more sugary drinks than any other child in Europe. Not to mention a whole lot more sugar, in breakfast cereals, bread, and even chicken nuggets. That is in part why Scottish children’s teeth are the same quality as those of children in Kazakhstan. And perhaps why a 2010 survey of 17 countries found that only Mexicans and Americans were fatter than Scots.

Of course sugary drinks make work for more people than dentists. Though the drinks and food industry still hotly contests it, a scientific consensus is now emerging that fatal problems can be traced back to excessive sugar consumption. Sugary drinks, addiction and obesity are inextricably linked: excess sugar in the diet may be a greater cause of obesity than fat is. Obese people suffer from diabetes, cancer, fatty liver disease, dementia and heart problems to the extent that their healthcare costs are double those of people with a healthy body mass. The “metabolic syndrome” maladies associated with insulin resistance and obesity – many authorities now just use the term “diabesity” – are expected soon to overtake tobacco as the leading cause of heart disease in the world. And perhaps of cancer, too.

Thus the “don’t grow up” line on that 7UP tin carries a grinding irony. Dr Robert Lustig puts it brutally: “The numbers don’t lie… as a rule, the fat die young.” He is a medical doctor and professor of clinical paediatrics at the University of California who has emerged as the guru of an increasingly noisy international campaign pressing governments to act as aggressively on sugary drinks as they have on tobacco. The two are seen as directly analogous – unnecessary habits that cost people and society dear. Lustig believes that children are at the forefront of the sugar-driven health crisis because soft and fizzy drinks are the most efficient way of delivering this “poison”. His word.

So the 7UP tin is quite an artefact. It shows capitalism at its most efficient and rapacious: where ingredients – sugar, flavouring, water – costing almost nothing can be turned into a profit margin measured in the thousands of per cent. It illustrates the extraordinary diversion of farmland and forest into the production of the almost useless while nearly a billion people on the planet are starving. The can is an icon of the key dietary changes of the era, where we upped our simple carbohydrate intake – sugar – to the point that it started harming us in ways never seen before.

A monumental battle is just beginning between the sugar and food corporations and governments, which know that society can no longer bear the strain of the polysaccharide habit. If the 40 years of war between government and Big Tobacco are anything to go by, the fight will be dirty.

It’s a feature of modern life that the young have started getting the diseases of the old – problems with their hearts, their livers, cancers, diabetes and so on. That this may be triggered by the changes in our diet has been known for at least 60 years. During the Korean war, US army surgeons got a chance to do something unusual: perform autopsies on lots of young people. These found plaque in the American casualties’ arteries – even among the teenagers. But there were no blockages in the hearts and valves of the youthful Korean dead. At the time, this bizarre phenomenon was ascribed to the fat load in the GIs’ diet. But Americans who fought in Korea and Japan were fuelled by Coca-Cola and its rivals; and modern analysis now concludes that sugary drinks may have been the villain.

Most rich nations saw their sugar consumption increase by 30-40% between 1970 and 2000. In Scotland it quadrupled in 60 years. A key moment was the introduction of “high fructose corn syrup” (HFCS) – a fantastically cheap sugar made from America’s surplus maize (in Europe we manufacture something similar from sugar beet). American government subsidy for the corn farmers – and high taxes on imported sugar – made the product cheap and attractive. Though there were issues around taste, in 1980 Coca-Cola successfully switched to using HFCS. After water, sugar is, of course, the major ingredient in its product. Profit margins improved, and Coke’s rivals soon jumped aboard.

In the UK we eat and drink around 70% more sugar than the government says we should, and the obesity figures have been fairly stable since they peaked in the early 2000s. (Though with 30% of under-15s overweight, and consuming sugar just like adults, the epidemiologists are predicting the obesity rate to rise.) But our sugar consumption peaked in 1982 and the soft drinks manufacturers say that now 40% of carbonated drinks contain “no added sugar”. Why, then, have obesity rates not plunged?

Sugar is sugar – a simple chemical, and it makes little difference whether it’s crushed from an organic, hand-picked fruit or fracked in a factory out of corn and beet. And fructose is just another of the monosaccharides that make sugar, though it’s the one with a friendly Latin-derived name. In fact fructose is the key to all sugar – it makes it taste sweet. Table sugar is half glucose, half fructose. The high-fructose syrups the drinks manufacturers use are probably – they won’t say – made of 55% fructose: more sweetness for the sugar load.

In my next post I will copy more of this article, particularly referring to fruit juice, and then I will look at some of the ways in which we can encourage children to drink more water.

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Ten Good Reasons for Bean Sprouts

Hungry For Change has posted a great article by Michelle Cook on the value of eating bean, nut, seed and grain sprouts. Here is an economical way that we can use organic, local produce regularly in our meals whilst also keeping shopping bills down. For clients who are working to support gut ecology, sprouts can be a good source of nutrition, but it is important that they are rinsed thoroughly each day to prevent the seeds going mouldy. More about this in my next post when I will bring comments on how to grown your own sprouts.


























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Fish Oil Study Flawed


If you read or heard the recent media coverage on the findings of a study linking increased levels of fish oil with an increase risk of developing prostate cancer, you may well be feeling somewhat confused. It is helpful to know that contrary to the conclusions of the study, the researchers were not monitoring either diet or fish oil supplements, but were measuring the level of omega 3 fatty acids found in the blood. They assumed that high levels of serum omega 3 fatty acids equated to high intake of fish oil supplements. Whether this was the case was not monitored, and therefore the quality of any fish oil supplements the participants may have used was not monitored either.


All supplements need to be a good quality, made with the best available ingredients for both providing the specific nutrients and also for the formation of the tablet or capsule. This is very important with fish oil supplements, where the oil used needs to be free from environmental toxins, such as polychlorinated biphenyls or methyl mercury compounds. Unfortunately in cheap fish oil supplements these toxins may be present, and are known to disrupt hormone balance, potentially influencing prostate cancer.


Likewise, no account was taken of the oxidation state of the omega-3 fatty acids measured. Cheap fish oil supplements are often oxidised, i.e. rancid, and these can produce free radicals and elevated oxidative stress, which is associated with increased cancer risk.


Alliance for Natural Health has written comprehensively about the problems with the study and can be read in full here.


At a time when Macmillan Cancer Support are predicting that almost half the people living in the UK in 2020 will get cancer during their lifetime, we need to be thinking seriously about how we can best support our health. Nutritional Therapy cannot make any claims, but working with foods to encourage health, and removing foods such as junk food and sugar, we can provide nutrients known to be vital in maintaining optimum health. If you would like help with dietary and supplement recommendations, you may like to request a consultation with me to work on your own personal, tailor-made nutritional health plan.

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Home-made Toothpaste

Clients often ask me which toothpaste is best to use. Unfortunately, this is the sort of area in which it is impossible for a Nutritional Therapist to advise, as we would not want to be responsible for any dental problems. However, in light of the fact that some people would like to experiment in reducing the amount of commercial toothpaste that they use, I thought this article on Care 2 make a difference by Michelle Schoffro Cook, is very interesting.


I have not made this alternative toothpaste myself yet, so cannot comment on it, but you may like to use it for one of your regular brushing times each day. Don’t forget to have regular check-ups with your dentist.



Most toothpaste contains sugar, fluoride, artificial colours, and other harmful ingredients that are best avoided.  Instead of using the toxic commercial varieties, why not make your own?  It’s simple and quick.  Once you have the essential oils needed you can use them to make the toothpaste or tooth powder, which more accurately describes it, for years to come.  
Here’s how:

Natural Tooth Powder Recipe

  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 10 drops pure peppermint essential oil (this is not the same as peppermint extract or fragrance oil.  Also, it should be a high quality food grade essential oil, which is available from many health food stores)
  • 5 drops pure myrrh essential oil (optional, also available in many health food stores)

Mix all ingredients in a small jar with a lid, cover, and shake well to disperse oils throughout. Use a small amount on a damp toothbrush the way you would use toothpaste.

The peppermint essential oil helps freshen breath, kill bacteria, and clear sinuses.  The myrrh oil is highly antibacterial and anti-fungal.  The baking soda restores a natural, slightly alkaline pH balance to the teeth and gums and helps to whiten teeth.



Any dietary recommendations that i advise to clients are generally supportive of oral health. Sometimes yeast overgrowth can particularly affect the mouth, either specifically with oral thrush, or indirectly as dying yeast produces an increase in  toxins, which may cause a furry tongue or sores in the mouth. Some food allergies might also cause blisters in the mouth, but in eating a less processed diet and increasing vegetables and natural foods, nutrients to support tooth, gum and mouth-health are encouraged.



The quality of tooth enamel is now a ‘hot topic’, with dentists drawing awareness to the fact that not only sugar can damage enamel, but also the acidity in fruit and fruit juice may be detrimental. Since I never recommend drinking fruit juices, and frequenly advise that clients avoid fruit while balancing gut ecology, a main area where this might affect my clients is if they use lemon juice in water and cooking. It is not clear as to whether the tiny amount of lemon in a glass of water would have any significant impact on enamel health, but if you want to err on the side of caution, you can drink water with lemon through a straw and then rinse the mouth with water after eating or drinking anything with lemon. Wait for at least an hour to brush the teeth, as the acidity of the lemon softens the enamel, making it more susceptible to being worn by the bristles of the brush. As an alternative to lemon to flavour water, try a slice of cucumber and/or some fresh mint leaves.


Research is revealing that fruit teas might also have an impact on enamel, so while these are acceptable on the yeast-free diet (if they contain no citric acid or sweetening) you may want to limit fruit teas containing lemon, blackcurrant or raspberry for example. It would be wise not to drink these teas throughout the whole day, and according to Dr Amolak Singh, chief executive of the General Dental Practitioners’ Association, to rinse the mouth with water after a fruit tea. Dr Singh said herbal teas with no fruit content, such as camomile or peppermint, were not a danger to teeth.

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The immune system is the body’s defence to provide protection from infections. When a virus or bacteria enters the body, the immune system employs a range of defences to fight off the infection. Swelling, redness and fever are all signs that the body’s immune system is working well as it battles against the external organism.


In allergy, however, the immune system has become hypersensitive, and over-reacts to what should be a harmless substance, such as food, dust or pollen, and thus sends white blood cells, known as lymphocytes, to create antibodies to fight what is mistaken to be an invader, or allergen. One type of Lymphocyte, known as a B cell, memorises the allergen so that it is able to create antibodies if the allergen should return. This process is called sensitization, causing the sufferer to react to the particular allergen whenever they come into contact with it.The antibody that is frequently created is IgE – immunoglobulin E, which attaches itself to mast cells in the skin, nose, mouth, throat, and gastrointestinal tract, and the white cells in the blood stream. When the allergen is experienced again, the IgE activates the mast cells and triggers the release of chemicals, including histamine, which leads to symptoms like sneezing, sore and runny eyes, rashes, tingling, vomiting or diarrhoea, depending on the type of allergy.



In hayfever, or allergic rhinitis, the allergen is pollens, and as this is inhaled the immune system activates mast cells to release histamine, which leads to the typical response of sneezing and running nose and sore eyes. Where air quality is reduced due to pollution and fumes, hayfever can be particularly severe.


It is easy to see that it is important to encourage the health of the immune system in order to minimise the risk and reduce the severity of experiencing hayfever. Many modern day influences might impact the immune system including air pollution, stress, chemicals, insufficient nutrients, a high-sugar diet and unbalanced gut ecology. Back in May I commented on the way in which a yeast overgrowth might impact the immune system, so working to support gut ecology is always a good place to start. There are also nutrients which are reputed to have natural ‘anti-histamine’ properties, so these may well be helpful in dealing with hayfever symptoms. You may like to consider requesting a nutritional consultation for more specific advice on these things.



Another factor which may be helpful is to make a simple dietary change as reported by   Dr John Briffa:


I was away for the weekend on a walking trip with a couple of good friends. The proprietor of one of the guesthouses where we stayed knew that two of us were doctors, and at breakfast asked for some friendly medical advice. It was about the medication he was taking for his quite-severe hay fever. Once that was done, my doctor friend asked what might be done for hay fever from a nutritional perspective.


I explained that one strategy I find quite useful here is to eliminate dairy products from the diet. Some people are sensitive to dairy products in a way that can cause mucus and congestion around the nose and throat. There is a thought that even if this is not obvious, for some people dairy products can ‘sensitise’ the tissues around the nose and eyes and make them more susceptible to, say, pollen, house dust mites or animal dander.


Individuals who are sensitive to dairy often had signs suggestive of this in childhood. My experience is that ear, nose and throat issues are often rooted in dairy sensitivity. I asked about this, and our proprietor told me he’d had his tonsils removed as a child. He also said that he drinks a lot of milk. He asked how long it would be before he would know if removing dairy was helping him. I told him people will usually know within a week.


Today, I got an email from the proprietor telling me that he had eliminated all dairy products from his diet yesterday, and today his eyes are not itching and his nose is “totally clear”. He has halved is medication and plans to stop it altogether at the weekend.


Of course, the resolution of his symptoms may not be due to his cutting out of dairy products. Some may argue it is just a fantastic placebo response. However, should this be the case, I don’t think he’ll mind (and neither do I).


However, if this improvement really is because he stopped dairy products (as I suspect), then it does not surprise me. I find that elimination of dairy products brings dramatic improvement in hay fever symptoms in about half of people who try it.



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Fizzy Drinks and Mental Health

Lylah M. Alphonse reports on a recently released study assessing the impact of fizzy drinks on mental health.



We know that sugary sodas aren’t good for our bodies; now it turns out that they may not be good for our minds, either. A new study of more than 260,000 people has found a link between sweetened soft-drinks and depression- and diet sodas may be making matters worse. Americans drink far more soda than people in other countries — as much as 170 litres per person per year (no wonder New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned super-sized servings). But the impact of this study isn’t limited to the United States.


“Sweetened beverages, coffee and tea are commonly consumed worldwide and have important physical-and may have important mental-health consequences,” study author Dr. Honglei Chen, an investigator at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences,said in a statement.


The recently released study involved 263,925 people between the ages of 50 and 71. Researchers tracked their consumption of beverages like soda, tea, coffee, and other soft drinks from 1995 to 1996 and then, 10 years later, asked them if they had been diagnosed with depression since the year 2000. More than 11,300 of them had. Participants who drank more than four servings of soda per day were 30 percent more likely to develop depression than participants who did not drink soda at all. People who stuck with fruit punch had a 38 percent higher risk than people who didn’t drink sweetened drinks. And all that extra sugar isn’t the actual problem: The research showed that low-calorie diet sodas, iced teas, and fruit punches were linked to an slightly higher risk of depression than the high-calorie stuff.



Researchers say that the artificial sweetener aspartame may be to blame. “Our findings are preliminary, and the underlying biological mechanisms are not known,” said Chen. The study found an association but could not conclusively determine whether sodas and other sweet soft drinks cause depression, even after taking into account factors like age, gender, education, smoking, body mass index (BMI) and other issues. Still, the results “are intriguing and consistent with a small but growing body of evidence suggesting that artificially sweetened beverages may be associated with poor health outcomes.”


The American Beverage Association took issue with the study, saying that “there is no credible scientific evidence linking sweetened beverage consumption to depression – of any kind.” “We may be in a new year, but there is nothing new about the ways our critics try to attack our industry,” said the ABA. “This research is nothing more than an abstract – it has not been peer-reviewed, published or even, at the very least, presented at a scientific meeting. Furthermore, neither this abstract nor the body of scientific evidence supports that drinking soda or other sweetened beverages causes depression. Thus, promoting any alleged findings without supporting evidence is not only premature, but irresponsible.”


If you do develop migraines after drinking or eating aspartame-sweetened foods, you’re definitely not alone. Dr. Mary D. Eades, in her book, The Doctor’s Complete Guide to Vitamins and Minerals, reports that aspartame is the trigger for migraines in roughly 10 percent of all migraine patients.


If that percentage sounds high to you, then you’ll be floored by the results of a University of Florida study. According to Jean Carper’s Food: Your Miracle Medicine, aspartame increased migraine frequency in more than 50 percent of the migraine patients who participated in the study. Additionally, Carper writes, “[The test subjects'] headaches lasted longer and some subjects experienced an increase in ‘unusual symptoms’ during aspartame-inspired headaches, such as dizziness, shakiness and diminished vision.”


Though migraines are not fatal, even when accompanied by “unusual symptoms,” they can be a precursor to potentially fatal grand mal seizures and convulsions. “Most [convulsion sufferers] had additional aspartame-associated complaints that also intensified prior to the onset of convulsions. Migraine and related headaches were the most impressive. In fact, half of the aspartame reactors with grand mal convulsions who completed the survey questionnaire had suffered prior migraine or other severe headaches,” writes Dr. H.J. Roberts in Aspartame (NutraSweet): Is It Safe?


Scientists do not know exactly how aspartame causes migraines, but many believe it has something to do with the biochemical serotonin, which controls everything from appetite to moods to sleepiness. According to Gary Null’s book, Get Healthy Now, aspartame may lower serotonin levels, exacerbating disorders like depression and, of course, contribute to migraines.



Aspartame and sugar are just some of the foods which may be impacting your health. My nutritional recommendations provide dietary protocols to encourage wellbeing. The fundamental approach is to remove foods and ingredients that may be impacting vitality and add the nutrients and foods that are important to support optimal health. As reported in the study above, unhelpful foods might affect our mental outlook and disposition as well as our energy levels or physical symptoms. To find out more about how a nutritional consultation might encourage your own health, contact me at nutrition@emma-cockrell.com


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Low-Toxin Cleaning Agents

An over-growth of the gut-yeast Candida albicans can affect health in many different ways.  One aspect which can be over-looked is the way in which it might influence the immune system. When a client lists a number of food and environmental allergies, it is helpful to understand that this isn’t simply ‘just another symptom’, but may be directly linked to yeast over-growth.



Ralph Golan MD writes very helpfully about the workings of the immune system in his book ‘Optimal Wellness’. Ordinarily, the correct balance between friendly bacteria in the gut and yeast allows for normal immune-cell function. ‘Helper’ cells and ‘suppressor’cells are in ratio to keep antibody production by ‘B’ cells in balance (see left-hand diagram below). However, intestinal yeast when over-grown can release toxins into the blood stream which inhibit ‘suppressor’ cell function. This leaves the antibody production by ‘helper’ cells to be unopposed, leading to inappropriate production of antibodies, which may result in a heightened state of allergy (see right hand diagram below).


 A = antibody production



Once again, supporting the correct balance of friendly bacteria and yeast within the digestive tract is of vital importance. You may like to contact me for a consultation to explore further how this may be impacting your own health.


Meanwhile, a heightened state of allergy for some clients means that they react to simple day-to-day environmental factors, such as cleaning fluids, forcing them to find and use  natural alternatives. Other clients become more aware of the level of toxins all around and want to make an effort to reduce toxin levels from cleaning agents within the home, in order to support the health of the whole family.



The following article by Annie B. Bond, reported at Food Matters has some helpful tips for making your own house-hold cleaners.  Where she refers to detergents and soaps, use one of the natural ones available in most supermarkets or wholefood shops, or visit the ethicalsuperstore.com for a good selection of cleaning materials.




 Going back to the original naturally derived ingredients is a way to make cleaning products that work, don’t pollute and save you money. Most are found in your kitchen cupboards. Mix and match with well-chosen and environmentally friendly green cleaning products found in health food stores, and you can easily and simply transform your home into a non-toxic and healthy haven.



Non-toxic cleaning can give you a deep feeling of gratification in knowing that your family’s health is protected, and that your home is a place for your bodies to rest and recuperate rather than promote harm.

Making your own nontoxic cleaning kit will take you no time at all with these simple, straightforward directions, and with this kit you will be supplied with enough cleaning product for months of cleaning.

As an added bonus, ounce for ounce homemade cleaning formulas cost about one-tenth the price of their commercial counterpart—and that includes costly, but worthwhile essential oils, and concentrated, all-purpose detergents for homemade recipes.


SUPPLIES: What You Need To Get Started

  • Baking soda
  • Washing soda
  • White distilled vinegar
  • A good liquid soap or detergent
  • Tea tree oil
  • 6 clean spray bottles
  • 2 glass jars


Simply pour about 1/2 cup of baking soda into a bowl, and add enough liquid detergent to make a texture like frosting. Scoop the mixture onto a sponge, and wash the surface. This is the perfect recipe for cleaning the bathtub because it rinses easily and doesn’t leave grit.

Note: Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin to the mixture and store in a sealed glass jar, to keep the product moist. Otherwise just make as much as you need at a time.




1/4-1/2 teaspoon liquid detergent
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups water
Spray bottle

Put all the ingredients into a spray bottle, shake it up a bit, and use as you would a commercial brand. 

The soap in this recipe is important. It cuts the wax residue from the commercial brands you might have used in the past.




1 cup or more baking soda
A squirt or two of liquid detergent

Sprinkle water generously over the bottom of the oven, then cover the grime with enough baking soda that the surface is totally white. Sprinkle some more water over the top. Let the mixture set overnight. You can easily wipe up the grease the next morning because the grime will have loosened. When you have cleaned up the worst of the mess, dab a bit of liquid detergent or soap on a sponge, and wash the remaining residue from the oven. If this recipe doesn’t work for you it is probably because you didn’t use enough baking soda and/or water.




1/2 teaspoon washing soda
A dab of liquid soap
2 cups hot tap water
A few drops of tea tree oil

Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake until the washing soda has dissolved. Apply and wipe off with a sponge or rag.





1/2 teaspoon oil, such as olive (or jojoba, a liquid wax)
1/4 cup vinegar or fresh lemon juice

Mix the ingredients in a glass jar. Dab a soft rag into the solution and wipe onto wood surfaces. Cover the glass jar and store indefinitely.



Keep a clean spray bottle filled with straight 5 percent vinegar in your kitchen near your cutting board and in your bathroom and use them for cleaning. I often spray the vinegar on our cutting board before going to bed at night, and don’t even rinse but let it set overnight. The smell of vinegar dissipates within a few hours. Straight vinegar is also great for cleaning the toilet rim. Just spray it on and wipe off.






2 teaspoons tea tree oil
2 cups water

Nothing natural works for mold and mildew as well as this spray. I’ve used it successfully on a moldy ceiling from a leaking roof, on a musty bureau, a musty rug, and a moldy shower curtain. Tea tree oil is expensive, but a little goes a very long way. 

Note: The smell of tea tree oil is very strong, but it will dissipate in a few days.

Combine in a spray bottle, shake to blend, and spray on problem areas. Do not rinse. Makes two cups.

Vinegar Spray
Straight vinegar reportedly kills 82 percent of mould. Pour some white distilled vinegar straight into a spray bottle, spray on the mouldy area, and let set without rinsing if you can put up with the smell. It will dissipate in a few hours.


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Choosing Vegetables

Food Matters has posted the latest 'Shoppers Guide' listing most important fruits and vegetables to buy organic, in order to reduce high levels of toxic pesticides. This list is produced in the USA, so it will not be exactly the same for us in Britain, but it gives us some idea of what produce is most affected.


By The Environmental Working Group

About The Guide

The Shopper's Guide to Pesticides is a key resource for consumers who want to minimize their exposure to pesticides. The Shopper’s Guide will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. You can lower your pesticide consumption by nearly 80% by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and instead eating the least contaminated produce, according to EWG calculations.

The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Use EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides™ to reduce your exposures as much as possible, but eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all. The Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. You can lower your pesticide intake by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and choosing the least contaminated produce.

For the second year, we have expanded the Dirty Dozen™ with a Plus category to highlight two crops – domestically-grown summer squash and leafy greens, specifically kale and collards. These crops did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen™ criteria but were commonly contaminated with pesticides exceptionally toxic to the nervous system.

Though the Environmental Protection Agency has been restricting the uses of the most toxic pesticides, they are still detected on some foods. For example, green beans were on last year's Plus list because they were often contaminated with two highly toxic organophosphates. Those pesticides are being withdrawn from agriculture. But leafy greens still show residues of organophosphates and other risky pesticides. That's why they are on the Plus list for 2013.

 Tests in 2008 found that some domestically-grown summer squash – zucchini and yellow crookneck squash -- contained residues of harmful organochlorine pesticides that were phased out of agriculture in the 1970s and 1980s but that linger on some farm fields.

Use the Environmental Working Group's Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides to reduce your exposure as much as possible, because eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all. 




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Dr Mercola comments on new research showing a link between food and immune health:


  • Researchers have discovered that a gene that is essential for producing critical immune cells in your gut, responds to the food you eat—specifically leafy green vegetables


  • Vegetables contain an array of antioxidants and other disease-fighting compounds. Some plant chemicals can reduce inflammation and eliminate carcinogens, while others regulate the rate at which cells reproduce, get rid of old cells and maintain DNA


  • Sprouts can contain up to 100 times more enzymes than raw fruits and vegetables, allowing your body to extract more vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fats from the foods you eat




  • The content of vitamins and essential fatty acids increase dramatically during the sprouting process. Depending on the sprout, nutrient content can increase as much as 30 times the original value within just a few days of sprouting, and minerals bind to protein during sprouting, making them more bioavailable.


  • Additionally, the sprouting process deactivates many of the anti-nutrients that are in the seeds


Colleen Vanderlinden at organicgardening.about.com explaines how to sprout your own beans and seeds:


As far as varieties go, you may be surprised at how many types of veggies you can eat as sprouts. Most of us are familiar with alfalfa sprouts and bean sprouts, but consider radish sprouts, beet sprouts, pea sprouts, and sunflower. In general, any plant from which you might eat the stems and leaves is a good option for sprouting. Plants from which you only eat the fruits (such as tomatoes and peppers) won't work.




How to Grow Sprouts in a Jar

Growing sprouts in a jar is easy. Here's how to do it:

  1. Place one to two tablespoons of seeds in your jar, and cover with approximately two inches of warm water. Let this sit overnight.
  2. Drain the water, using a fine sieve or cheesecloth.
  3. Rinse the seeds by adding water the the jar, swishing the seeds around, and draining.
  4. Repeat twice a day, every day until your sprouts are the desired size. This will take anywhere from three to seven days, depending on the variety of sprout you're growing. Sprouts are best when they're still fairly small and just starting to turn green.
  5. Store your sprouts in a covered bowl or food storage bag with a paper towel inside to absorb excess moisture. Use the sprouts within a week.


In my next blog I will list some of the benefits of 'home sprouting'.

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Undernourished with Empty Calories

An interesting article by Dr Mark Hyman in the Huffington Post on how the Western diet with 'empty calories' may confuse the metabolism:


Americans are overfed and undernourished. That's right, the most obese children and adults in the country are also the most nutritionally deficient!  How can those two things possibly co-exist?


The mistake is to think that if you eat an abundance of calories, your diet automatically delivers all the nutrients your body needs. But the opposite is true. The more processed food you eat, the more vitamins you need. That's because vitamins and minerals lubricate the wheels of our metabolism, helping the chemical reactions in our bodies run properly. Among those biochemical processes greased by nutrients is the regulation of sugar and burning of fat. The problem is that the standard American diet (SAD) is energy dense (too many calories) but nutrient poor (not enough vitamins and minerals). Too many "empty calories" confuse the metabolism and pack on the pounds. 

A Nutritionally Deficient Culture

After reviewing the major nutritional research over the last 40 years and doing nutritional testing on over 10,000 patients. I can tell you that Americans are suffering from massive nutritional deficiencies. What I see in my office is reflected in the scientific literature. Upwards of 30 percent of American diets fall short of such common plant-derived nutrients as magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Vitamin A. More than 80 percent of Americans are running low on Vitamin D. And nine out of 10 people are deficient in omega-3 fats, which are critical for staving off inflammation and controlling blood sugar levels. 

So, Why Are We So Undernourished?



Food Is Less Nutritious. 

Processed foods, stuffed with high fructose corn syrup, refined flours and trans fats-are a modern phenomenon. These foods crowd out more nutrient-dense foods because they are inexpensive and convenient. Your grandmother wouldn't recognize most of the foods filling the center aisles of our grocery stores today. Imagine what early humans would think of Lunchables! 

Our species evolved eating foods that contained dramatically higher levels of all vitamins, minerals, and essential fats. Wild game is leaner and healthier than animals raised in factory farms. Plus, the meats and fish eaten by hunter-gatherers were almost always fresh. Most store bought meat today are laced with chemicals, such as nitrates, used to process and preserve.

Soil Is Being Squeezed. 

There is a reason our food is less nutritious, industrial farming is depleting the nutrients in the country's farmland. As a result, most vegetables harvested today have fewer nutrients than those plucked from the ground just two generations ago. 
One of the largest and most compelling studies on this topic was published in 2004 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Using data from the USDA's archives, a team of scientists looked at the nutrient content of 43 fruits and vegetables - everything from rutabaga to honeydew - grown in 1950 and compared them to the identical fruits and veggies grown in 1999. Their findings were disturbing. Levels of calcium were down 16 percent, iron 15 percent, and Vitamin C 20 percent. Not a single nutrient had increased in the past 50 years.

Because those foods contain fewer nutrients, the servings we do eat don't deliver as much nutrition as they once did. Fewer nutrients means lowered immunity and increased vulnerability to chronic disease and obesity. When your body doesn't get the right nutrition, it just keeps asking for more food. The endless cycle of craving a Catch-22; people are eating more, getting fatter, but still not feeling satisfied - it's a nightmare from which they can't escape.

Refining Kills Nutrients. 



In general, foods are stripped of their nutrients during the refining process. One of the most telling examples of this mistake is wheat. The process of refining whole wheat flour into white reduces the fiber by 80 percent and slashes levels of essential minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients. 
Eventually, food manufacturers started adding synthetic versions of the most important vitamins and minerals back into food and call the food "enriched." But the idea that you can process out nutrients, such as B vitamins in the making of white flour, and then add them back is reductionistic and neglects the synergistic qualities of food. Food makers call these "enriched foods" but that's only because they are so impoverished in the first place!
Three Ways to Grab More Nutrient-rich Calories
1. Eat more plant-based foods: Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains are the foundation of a lifelong ultraprevention diet. They are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, fiber, and essential fatty acids. These foundation foods also eliminate the many triggers of chronic illness, such as saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and toxic food additives.

2. Prioritize healthy plant-based fats: 
The best way to eat most of your fat is in the form of extra-virgin olive oil, flax, nuts, and seeds with minimal amounts of properly processed (expeller-pressed) vegetable oils. Avoid oils that do not state the method of extraction or have a bitter aftertaste or rancid flavor.
3. Dine on modest amounts of lean animal protein: The best sources are small cold-water fish that don't contain high levels of metals and other contaminants. Healthy fish choices include sardines, herring, mackerel, wild caught salmon, trout, and arctic char. 


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Processed Food

Hungry For Change have posted an article by Donna gates on 10 things the porcessed food industry doesn't want you to know. I have reposted some of those points here:



 Processed Foods Are Addictive and Can Cause You To Overeat

Whole foods are made up of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fiber and water. When foods are processed the components of these foods are modified (for example, fiber, water and nutrients are removed) and in other cases, components are concentrated. In each case, processing changes the way they are digested and assimilated in your body.
Eating highly processed or highly concentrated foods can artificially stimulate dopamine (the pleasure neurotransmitter), which plays a role in addiction. In this way, you are eating foods that lack nutrients and fiber, but create a pleasurable feeling. A food addiction starts because you feel good when you are eating these foods and they make you think they taste better. You crave that pleasurable feeling again and again and voilà…this is what starts a food addiction.

Processed Foods Are Linked to Obesity

Additives in processed foods, like high fructose corn syrup, sugar and MSG have been linked to weight gain and obesity. 

Dr. Mercola recently reported about a new study that showed childhood obesity could be reduced by 18 percent, simply by cutting out fast food advertisements during children’s programming. The Australian government is clearly more concerned about their children’s health as television advertisements to children were banned several years ago.
 Processed Foods Contribute to An Imbalanced Inner Ecosystem
This can lead to digestive problems, cravings, illness and disease. Beneficial microflora cannot survive in your digestive tract when you are poisoning them. Like us they thrive on foods that are made by nature not by man.
A Diet High in Processed Foods Can Lead to Depression, Memory Issues and Mood Swings
Ingredients in processed foods are often the lowest cost and sub-par, nutritionally.For example, the fats and oils used in processed foods are refined, which means they are stripped of the essential fatty acids necessary for healthy blood sugar levels, moods and memory. Your heart, hormones and brain suffer when you choose to eat these fats and oils. Instead choose organic, unrefined or “virgin” fats and oils.

 Processed Foods Often Go Hand In Hand With “Eating on the run” or Multitasking
Most people will choose convenience if they are on the run and in today’s busy lives, who of us isn’t? Unfortunately, multitasking while eating causes people to lose touch with their natural appetite, often leading to weight gain. Additionally, multitasking sends the wrong signals to your digestive system, which needs to be in a restful mode to digest properly.

Nutrition Labels on Processed Foods Are Often Misleading and Have Harmful Health Effects

Many labels say “sugar free,” but contain other sweeteners like agave, which is like high fructose corn syrup. 
Additionally, product labeling may hide ingredients like GM (genetically modified) foods and harmful additives like MSG. (These are hidden behind words on the label like “natural flavorings” or “approved spices”).

 Diets High in Processed Meats (like hot dogs and deli meats) Have Been Linked to Various Forms of Cancer
One of the reasons for this link to cancer is thought to be because of the preservatives used in processed meats. Clare Hughes, Australian Cancer Council nutrition program manager, says a number of studies have linked processed meat to cancer and the problem is multi-fold. "Processed meats are high in salt and fat. In addition, chemicals such as nitrites are added to many processed meats to maintain their colour and to prevent contamination. Nitrites can be converted in the stomach to carcinogenic nitrosamines."

Eating Too Many Processed Foods Can Lead to Infertility and Malnutrition

Processed foods, like cereal, are stripped of important vitamins and nutrients that your body truly needs. You could be eating a large amount of calories and still be malnourished if your diet is high in processed foods. Animal studies have shown that over three generations, a deficient diet causes reproduction to cease. Today, infertility is on the rise, affecting 7.3 million people in America.

 Processed Foods are Made For Long Shelf-life, Not Long Human Life! 
Chemicals, additives and preservatives are added to processed foods so that they will last for a long time without going rancid or affecting the taste of the food. Food manufacturers spend time, money and research on beautiful packaging and strategies to lengthen shelf-life, with little attention on how the foods will lengthen your life or create lasting health.



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Probiotics and Antibiotic

We have seen it coming. The over-use of antibiotics has led to bacteria becoming resistant to the current drugs and there are few new antibiotics to replace them.  Both theBBC and the Guardian reported on the  antibiotic ‘apocalypse’ warning, highlighting the problems we may be facing as  ”antibiotic-resistant bacteria with the potential to cause untreatable infections pose ‘a catastrophic threat’ to the population”.


BioCare, (a supplement company that I frequently recommend) responds:


BBC headlines have reminded us that inappropriate or overuse of antibiotics has allowed antibiotic resistant infections to flourish to the extent that a routine hospital visit could result in deadly, incurable infection. 


The good news is that some excellent probiotic trials give us hope that we can counteract this scenario. A clinical trial following 155 hospital patients found that daily supplementation with LAB4 probiotic strains alongside antibiotics significantly reduced the number of antibiotic resistant strains by more than 70% compared to the placebo group.



This simple strategy could help to ensure that antibiotics remain effective in emergencies when they are genuinely required.



Supporting the level of friendly bacteria within the gut is an important factor in balancing gut ecology, but the benefit doesn’t just end with a comfortable digestive system. Friendly flora in the digestive tract act as a first line of defence to invading bacteria, thus a gut ecology where yeasts are kept under control and friendly bacteria thrive, is a major step in supporting the immune system. The LAB4 probiotics mentioned by BioCare combine Lactobacillus acidophilus and strains of Bifidobacterium, and are the probiotics I generally recommended to support gut ecology.


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Cataracts and Vitamins: The Real Story

A helpful review of the recent newspaper article on cataracts and vitamins from the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, by Damien Downing, MBBS, MSB, and Robert G. Smith, PhD


(OMNS Mar 5, 2013) "Hidden danger of everyday supplements is revealed" blared the headline in the UK Daily Mail [1] - a newspaper that is well known for declaring that, for example, "coffee causes cancer" and "coffee reduces cancer risk" on different pages of the same issue. This time it is reporting on a study out of Sweden that appears to show that taking vitamin C or vitamin E supplements increases your risk of developing a cataract - by about 20% for C and 60% for E. [2] It makes a good headline, but does it make sense?




No. They didn't give anybody anything, or do anything to them, This was just a computer exercise in which they re-analyzed postal questionnaires sent to the entire male population aged between 45 and 79 in an area of Sweden, and matched the responses to another database of cataract operations. Although the title says that it is "a population-based prospective cohort study," prospective would really mean that they followed the group of subjects, the cohort, closely over a period of time, without losing many of them. In fact they simply had their computer go through some old electronic records. Nobody was interviewed, and no checks or validation exercises were carried out. No researcher met any of the men in the study, ever.




No. The first really serious shortcoming of this paper, the gorilla in the room, is that half the men never replied in the first place, and then the authors deliberately excluded a lot more for reasons such as diabetes - one of the other main "outcomes" of the study and a big risk factor for cataracts. Finally, they omitted to account for another few thousand people, so that in the end they were only studying 27 percent of the original population. If they had randomly selected this sample of the population that would be fine, but in fact the subjects selected themselves by bothering to fill in and return the questionnaire, or not. What were their reasons? We know not. That means that already several types of selection bias have been introduced, and all the results are now meaningless.


There could even be what's known as indication bias - when cause and effect get mixed up. So, for instance, cataracts can take decades rather than years to develop, and people with early symptoms might be more likely to take supplements to ease their eyestrain. If the study goes on entirely in a computer, there's no way of telling.




No. The study contradicts many other studies that have shown either no effect or actual benefits of vitamin C and E for preventing cataracts and other eye diseases. Cataracts are common among older people, and it is well known that antioxidants can reduce the risk of developing them if taken long-term. Smoking, obesity, and diabetes are well-known risk factors for cataracts, and antioxidants are known to prevent the damage caused by these factors. [References below]. In one study, vitamin C supplements taken over 10 years or more reduced the risk of cataracts by about 80%.This is a huge dose-related effect, strongly suggesting the benefit of antioxidants in preventing cataracts. The effect was not apparent for short-term use, suggesting that any shorter-term study may not identify the benefit. (Jacques et al, 1997).

Studies should not be viewed in isolation, because that leads to the "coffee causes cancer" and "coffee reduces cancer risk" absurdity. The effect of a discrepant study such as this is to marginally adjust the current information about risk. Let's say that based on previous studies, as listed below, we thought there was an 80 percent probability that taking vitamins would help to prevent cataracts; after this one we might revise that to 75 percent. This is known as Bayesian probability [after an English minister 300 years ago] and makes a whole lot more sense than the supposedly black-and-white, 95% confidence-interval type of statistics used here. If a gambler isn't a Bayesian he's an idiot; every hand, every throw, alters the odds. So does every study.


The conclusions here are also dodgy because there is no real data on the amounts of the vitamins taken - only a guesstimate from an earlier study of 248 men - and even occasional use was tabulated as use of supplements. For this to make a substantial difference to the health outcome isn't really plausible.




To prevent age-related diseases of the eye including cataracts, the best current advice is to lower oxidative stress by stopping smoking, reduce excess weight (diabetes again), eat an excellent diet along with a multivitamin supplement and additional supplements of vitamin C (3,000 - 6,000 mg/day in divided doses), vitamin E (400-1,200 IU of natural mixed tocoperols and tocotrienols). This will greatly help prevent oxidation of the tissues of the eye. Artificial forms of vitamin E (dl-alpha-tocopherol) are only 50% as biologically active as the natural form (d-alpha-tocopherol). Taking alpha-tocopherol alone is thought to lower the effective uptake of the other beneficial forms of vitamin E, so it's important to take the natural form of mixed (alpha-, beta-, gamma-, delta-) tocopherols.



(Dr. Damien Downing is a practicing physician specializing in orthomolecular medicine in London, UK, and Dr. Robert G. Smith is a neurophysiologist specializing in eye research at the University of Pennsylvania.)


 For references click here




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Five Healthy Fats

Hungry for Change have posted a helpful article by Jen Broyles on the fats that are good to include in the diet.


Fats play an important role in a healthy diet and are needed for many of our bodies processes. Discover five incredible dietary fats that are nutrient rich and great for your waist line too!


1. Coconut Oil



Coconut products offer an array of health benefits, and coconut oil is a great oil to use for cooking, or it can be added to smoothies, oatmeal, and other dishes. 

Coconut oil offers antimicrobial, antibacterial and anti-cancer properties. It improves digestion, nutrient absorption and intestinal health. It provides cardiovascular benefits and helps manage Type 2 Diabetes. Coconut oil promotes kidney and liver health and supports the immune system. It also benefits metabolism, energy, and weight management. 

Coconut oil had a bad reputation for a while primarily because it is composed of saturated fat, which we are told to stay away from. However, the saturated fat in coconut oil is different from that in animal products. The fatty acids in coconut oil are medium-chain triglycerides, which are easily metabolized and used as energy by the body. Research suggests that these fatty acids may boost your metabolism, promote weight loss, and increase HDL, the good, protective cholesterol in your body.



2. Nuts


Nuts are very diet-friendly and are loaded with a ton of amazing nutrients, healthy fats, and protein. Nuts are one of the best sources of alpha-lenolenic acid, a type of heart-healthy omega-3. Omega-3s offer numerous health benefits from lowering cholesterol to disease prevention. 

They are also rich in L-arginine, an amino acid that has been shown to boost immune function, promote wound healing, improve blood vessel function, and help manage cardiovascular disease. Additionally, nuts contain soluble fiber and Vitamin E. Fiber helps lower cholesterol and glucose levels while Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin E is essential for proper immune function, healthy skin, and DNA repair.

Some of my favorites are almonds, walnuts, and brazil nuts. Try them in smoothies, nutrition bars, salads, trail mix, or alone. Nut butters are another delicious way to enjoy this nutrient-dense food.

3. Avocados




Avocados are fantastic fruits with tons of nutritional benefits. They are an excellent source of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that helps cleanse and protect your body by detoxifying, removing heavy metals, and fighting free radicals. 

Glutathione helps maintain a healthy immune system and slows the aging process. Avocados are rich in folate, which has been shown to decrease the incidence of heart disease and stroke. They are also the best fruit source of Vitamin E, which protects against many diseases and helps maintain overall health. 

Not only are avocados packed with nutrients, but studies have shown that certain nutrients are absorbed better when eaten with an avocado. Enjoy an avocado on a sandwich, in a salad, blended into a smoothie.

4. Seeds

Seeds, like nuts, contain a number of heart healthy properties. They offer beneficial fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein. Seeds are also packed with health-promoting minerals such as magnesium, selenium, and zinc. 

Some great seeds to include in your diet are flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. Chia seeds, in particular, are considered a superfood due to their extremely high nutrient profile. They are super rich in omega-3s, even more than flax seeds. Plus, they are loaded with powerful antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, copper, iron, and zinc. 
Seeds can be enjoyed many ways. They are great in smoothies, bakedgoods, nutrition bars, salads, trail mix, yogurt, and other foods. 

5. Olive Oil


Olive oil is such a healthy oil to use when sautéing, baking, and making salad dressing. This fantastic oil is rich in monounsaturated fat and antioxidants such as chlorophyll, carotenoids, and vitamin E. 


Olive oil is great for reducing blood pressure, cancer prevention, managing diabetes, and lessening the severity of asthma and arthritis. In fact, including olive oil in your diet can help you maintain a lower, healthy weight. 



Emma's Note:  If using olive oil in cooking, keep temperatures low. Try 'steam frying' by adding along with the olive oil, 1 -2 tablespoons of water or stock, and then placing a lid on the pan. As a saturated fat, coconut oil is the most stable oil for cooking. Using extra virgin coconut and olive oils provides unrefined and un-heat-treated goodness.


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Ten Reasons to Avoid Coffee

Dr Mark Hyman reports on research showing just why we should avoid coffee.
  1. The caffeine in coffee increases catecholamines, your stress hormones. The stress response elicits cortisol and increases insulin. Insulin increases inflammation, and this makes you feel lousy.


  2. Habituation to caffeine decreases insulin sensitivity, making it difficult for your cells to respond appropriately to blood sugar. High blood sugar levels lead to arterial deterioration and increased risk of mortality related to cardiovascular disease.



  3. Unfiltered coffee has the highest amount of beneficial antioxidants yet also leaks the most diterpenes into your system. These diterpenes have been linked to higher levels of triglycerides, LDL and VLDL levels.



  4. The helpful chlorogenic acids that may delay glucose absorption in the intestine have also been shown to increase homocysteine levels -- an indicator for increased risk of cardiovascular disease, which tends to be elevated in diabesity.



  5. The acidity of coffee is associated with digestive discomfort, indigestion, heart burn, GERD and dysbiosis (imbalances in your gut flora).



  6. Addiction is often an issue with coffee drinkers and makes it really difficult to rely on the body's natural source of energy. Ask any coffee drinker about how it feels to withdraw from coffee, and you will mistake their story for that of a drug addict's...



  7. Associative addictions trend with coffee -- who doesn't immediately think of warm, frothy sweet cream and sugar when they picture coffee? Surely the business of coffee has inspired a culture addicted to the sugary, fatty tastes of what has become more of a meal than a drink! That morning latte is the epitome of food lacking nutrition density yet packing energy!



  8. 5-HIA, an organic acid and component of the neurotransmitter serotonin (the happy chemical) seen in the urine tends to be elevated in coffee drinkers, which means they may be at risk for lower levels of serotonin synthesis in the brain. Serotonin is necessary for normal sleep, bowel function, mood, and energy levels. It is a vicious cycle, as caffeine can disrupt sleep and promote anxiety and depression. We all know someone who tends to be tired, wired and over-caffeinated!



  9. Elevated urinary excretion of important minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium have been noted in coffee drinkers. An imbalance in your electrolyte status can lead to serious systemic complications.



  10. Constituents in coffee can interfere with normal drug metabolism and detoxification in the liver, making it difficult to regulate the normal detoxification process in the liver. Another issue to be aware of with coffee intake is how certain medications such as levothyroxine (thyroid) as well as tricyclic antidepressants are poorly absorbed, making symptoms curiously worse for patients.


For references click here


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Soda Bread

At the beginning of the month I mentioned, in relation to Magnesium, that soaking grains and seeds may reduce the level of phytates. Phytates (and phytic acid) are antioxidant compounds found in whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. The chief concern about phytates is that they can bind to certain dietary minerals including iron, zinc, manganese and, to a lesser extent calcium, and slow their absorption.  


There is mixed opinion as to whether phytates significantly reduce the mineral availibitly from foods, but in my mind, there is nothing to lose in soaking grains and seeds, to speed up cooking,to enhance digestibility and to encourage mineral absorption as much as possible. It is fairly easy to soak grains and flakes, it is a matter of getting into a habit of soaking them the night before you need them.


Soaking seeds is easy too.  My favourite use of seeds is to grind them (sunflower and sesame work particularly well) and then mix a couple of tablespoons of the seed mixture with some filtered water to form a paste. Do this the day before you want to use it and then stir the seed paste into porridge of gluten-free cereal, or use it as a nut butter on crackers or soda bread.


However, how can we 'soak' the flour that is used in a soda bread?  The process of leaving bread to rise with yeast allows some of the phytates to be broken down. With a quick soda bread recipe however, the flour doesn't usually have that same opportunity. Therefore I have been working on an alternative soda-bread recipe, that incorporates time for the dough to be left to stand.  What we don't want is for the dough to begin to ferment, as with a sour dough.  Although fermentation is an effecitive way of allowing phytates to be broken down, if you are trying to minimise yeasts in the diet, fermented foods may not be helpful.  Many clients are cross-sensitive to different yeasts, so although naturally fermented foods may be helpful for some people, I do not encourage these fo any one who is trying to support gut ecology by bringing yeast under control. For this reason, when the dough is left to 'stand' it should be placed in the fridge in order to reduce the possibility of fermentation. The recipe is very simple, and quite delicious, but you do need to remember to start making it the day before it is needed.




Rye Soda Bread

Mix 4 mugs of whole rye flour* with 2 ½ mugs of water. Stir together thoroughly, cover and leave in the fridge for 12-24 hours.  This helps to break down phytates within the flour which may prevent absorption of minerals. After this time, sprinkle 2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder over the dough and stir in thoroughly.  This is quite hard work as the dough is a thick dropping consistency. When the baking powder is mixed in, spoon the mixture into a loaf tin lined with baking parchment. Place the tin in a medium-hot oven - 190°C, and bake for an hour. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

*Available in whole food shops, or Tesco sell Doves Farm whole rye flour.



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Save Our Supplements

Consumers for Health Choice

An important email from Save Our Supplements on what we can do to try to keep nutritional supplements available:


Urgent – we need your support

The European Union’s plan to regulate the supplements market is back on the agenda.  It means there’s a very real danger that our vitamins and mineral supplements could be dramatically weakened and some may disappear. Millions of ordinary people will be denied the freedom to choose the supplements they rely on. We need your help to fight these unnecessary and unwelcome EU restrictions.

What action are we taking?

As you may know, Consumers for Health Choice has been successfully opposing the changes for over 15 years. Over 250,000 people have already supported the Save Our Supplements campaign – but now we’re taking it to the next level. We’re aiming for a further million people to sign our petition. That’s why we’re re-launching with a new website, new graphics, new posters and leaflets – plus a massive social media push.

4 important things you can do


Remember, it’s absolutely vital that we prevent the EU from banning some supplements and taking away our choice. It’s in your hands. For more information, and to get involved, visit www.saveoursupplements.org.uk

Thanks for your support,

Yours sincerely

The SOS team


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Benefits of Magnesium

Today I want to briefly consider the importance of Magnesium in the diet. When I speak to groups and classes on the subject of nutrition, I frequently commence by considering the effect of the refining process on the level of nutrients in foods.  In refining whole grain rice, 83% or the magnesium is lost, and in making white flour, 82% of the magnesium content of wheat is stripped away. Add to this the fact that magnesium is depleted during times of stress, that alcohol and caffeine can lead to urinary excretion of magnesium, and that those of us trying to keep fit will lose magnesium in sweating while exercising, we begin to see that we may benefit by making sure our diets include magnesium-containing foods.



Magnesium is vital in bone density and strength, with studies showing that supplementing just magnesium without any extra calcium improved bone density (this was for research purposes, so magnesium should usually be used together with calcium). Magnesium is essential for the production of energy, for glucose metabolism and for making protein within the body.



So to keep energy levels supported we need sufficient magnesium.  This may also help symptoms of PMS, low (or high) blood sugar, quality of sleep, blood pressure, constipation and muscle health. I frequently recommend magnesium in ratio with calcium as a supplement, but you may like to ensure that your diet is also providing good levels of magnesium for yourself and your family.



A simple way of increasing magnesium is to add seeds to breakfasts.  Pumpkin, flax and sesame seeds all have a high content of magnesium. Whole grains too, are good sources of this nutrient, so combining the two gives you a magnesium-rich start to the day. Stirring ground seeds into whole grain sugar-free cereals, or porridge made from oat, millet or brown rice flakes makes a satisfying meal. If you do not have access to a grinder you can buy seeds ready ground by Linwoods, and these are available in some supermarkets (Waitrose) and whole food shops.


Soaking the grains overnight before cooking, and blending the ground seeds with water and leaving overnight may make these foods more digestible, and also may reduce the phytic acid content. There is mixed research about phytic acid  (or phytates), which are reported to decrease our ability to absorb certain nutrients – including magnesium.  However, soaking, sprouting and cooking seems to reduce the negative effect of phytates, while also reducing cooking time and increasing digestibility.


So to support your intake of magnesium each day include whole grains, seeds and green leafy vegetables. If you can get nuts in their shells while on the Nutritionhelp protocol, these too are a source of magnesium.


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Soups for Cold Weather

As we in the UK find ourselves in the middle of a very cold spell of weather,  don’t forget that soups can be particularly warming and filling. If made with herbs and mild spices rather than yeasted stock-cubes, soups are are great addition to the Nutritionhelp yeast-free diet. Erica White’s Beat Candida Cookbook has a section with recipe ideas for soups, and these are a good way of keeping up your intake of vegetables.


However, sometimes we find we are running low on vegetables, and with the current snow it isn’t always easy to get to the shops, so below is a nutritious, store-cupboard Tomato and Basil soup, that is suitable for those following the Nutritionhelp Yeast -Free diet recommendations. Tomato puree is a good source of lycopene, an antioxidant which some studies have shown to lower the risk of cancer.


Remember, a vegetable soup on its own is not a complete meal. It is important to serve some protein alongside, and many people will also need additional carbohydrates. Serving a chunk of whole meal soda bread (recipe in Erica’s Beat Candida Book) together with some hummus, seed butter or cooked fish will introduce additional nutrients. Sprinkling the soup with a selection of seeds (sunflower, sesame and pumpkin), will add further protein and beneficial oils.



Tomato and Basil Soup – serves 6 small bowls

2 medium onions
1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
1 300g jar organic tomato puree
1 1/4 litres filtered water
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried onion powder
Freshly ground black pepper


Chop the onions and gently fry in the coconut oil until beginning to soften. Stir in the tomato puree and add 1/2 litre of water. Mix together and then place in a blender and whizz until smooth. Return to the pan and add the remaining water and the basil (adding more or less according to taste), the onion powder and the black pepper. Heat through and serve.


This soup can be frozen, and because it is a smooth soup it is also suitable for putting in a vacuum flask if you want to take some to work.



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Benefits of Avocado

Avocado is a great food to enjoy if you are on a nutritional programme, so this article by Dr Mercola is of particular interest.



A summary on the benefits of avocado:


  • A small pilot study found that eating one-half of a fresh medium Hass avocado with a hamburger significantly inhibited the production of the inflammatory compound Interleukin-6 (IL-6), compared to eating a burger without fresh avocado. (I don’t advocate that you regularly include hamburgers/beefburgers in your diet!)


  • Avocados, which are actually classified as a fruit, are rich in monounsaturated fat that is easily burned for energy. They also provide close to 20 essential health-boosting nutrients, including potassium, vitamin E, B-vitamins, and folic acid


  • Previous research has found avocado can help reduce cholesterol levels within as little as one week; contains compounds that appear to inhibit and destroy oral cancer cells, and those that protect against liver damage


  • The greatest concentration of beneficial carotenoids is in the dark green fruit of the avocado, closest to the peel, so use the “nick and peel” method to maximize the benefits from your avocado


  • You can increase your avocado consumption by using it as a fat replacement in baking; add it to soups, dessert whips and countless other recipes; and use as a baby’s first food in lieu of processed baby food


Read the whole article here


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Supporting Blood Sugar to Encourage Energy

At this time of year people are often feeling sluggish and lacking in energy. One vital way in which we can encourage energy levels is to ensure that we maintain a steady release of glucose into the blood. Most of the food we eat gets digested down to glucose, to be absorbed into the  blood stream and carried to the cells, where it provides energy.  Sugary and refined foods will be digested to glucose very quickly, giving an almost immediate kick of energy, but within an hour or two, the level of sugar in the blood will drop down low, potentially leaving us tired and irritable. Many of my clients will know how important it is to remove sugar from the diet, but just avoiding sugary foods alone may not be sufficient to benefit blood glucose levels.



It is also vitally important that the right foods are eaten at the right time of day, to ensure that blood sugar is kept nice and steady. One of the most common mistakes I find is that people don’t eat enough protein throughout the day. Protein is digested slowly, therefore supporting a gentle release of glucose, not just immediately after a meal, but continuing up until the next meal. It is not that we have to eat a high protein diet, but we need to include some protein at each meal. Most people will have a good source of protein at their evening meal, but very often I find breakfast and lunch can be very low in this vital nutrient.



It is not uncommon for someone on a yeast and sugar-free diet plan to eat a grain for breakfast, such as oats, millet or rice flakes cooked as a porridge. Although these are whole grains, which will be digested to glucose more slowly than refined grains, they should be eaten with some form of protein, to slow down the production of glucose even further, and provide that source of energy a few hours after eating. My usual recommendation for someone who eats a porridge or sugar-free cereal for breakfast is to stir in a couple of dessert spoons of ground seeds. I particularly like the creaminess of ground sunflower seeds. If you haven’t got your own grinder some whole food shops  and supermarkets (Waitrose) sell seeds ready ground.





Not only do these provide a source of protein, but they also include beneficial oils, and are packed with nutrients, not least magnesium, which is so important in energy production. If you have time in the mornings, an organic egg is a brilliant source of protein, providing a good balance of the essential amino acids and many other nutrients.





Lunch times I also find are low in protein for may people. Lunch is a good opportunity to eat plenty of vegetables as salads or soups, but ensure that protein, such as cooked chicken, tinned mackerel, sardines or pilchards, beans and legumes, seeds or eggs, is also included. An easy food to provide protein is hummus, Unfortunately most shop-bought hummus is high in salt and poor quality oils. However, it is fairly simple to make your own, and being based around chickpeas and sesame seeds, it is an excellent source of vegetarian protein. Home-made hummus can be frozen into small pots, ready to defrost when needed. Spread on rice-cakes, serve with salad or top a jacket potato, for a cheap and tasty source of protein.



Making sure that protein forms a part of each meal may prevent that sinking feeling and low energy mid morning and mid afternoon. Ensuring that blood sugar levels are stable is important for anyone working to support their gut ecology.


Roast Onion Hummus



 Dice and roast in a medium heat oven, two white onions with a teaspoon of virgin coconut oil. After about 30 minutes, or when onion is soft, blend with 1 ½ cups of cooked chickpeas ,2 teaspoons of light tahini, juice from ½ a lemon, 1 crushed garlic clove, black pepper and a little Lo-Salt. If mixture is too thick, blend in a tablespoon of cold-pressed Rice Bran oil. Adjust seasoning if necessary.



This will taste different to shop-bought hummus, but work with the ingredients, adding more or less tahini and garlic for example, to develop a recipe that you enjoy.


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Broccoli and Spinach to Support Bone Health

What Doctors Don’t Tell You reports on supporting bone health



Scientists have finally figured out why brittle bones and fractures happen—common in postmenopausal women who have an increased risk of osteoporosis—and they think that eating plenty of broccoli and spinach could be an effective way to prevent the problem.
It’s all to do with the protein osteocalcin, which keeps our bones strong. But when we slip or fall, the protein is disturbed, and can’t do its usual protective work. Any fall will weaken the bone—because of the impact on osteocalcin levels—and a further slip can break the bone.
Vitamin K, found in green leafy vegetables as well as in supplements, helps feed the protein, and may help it withstand a fall or slip, say researchers from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
(Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; 109: 19178-83).


This is great, simple diet advice that may help support bone health.  If you are on Warfarin or another blood thinning medication, you may need to be careful about consuming too much spinach and green leafy vegetables, but for most of us these are nutrient-packed foods that should be included regularly with meals. 


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Happy Christmas!

Christmas is now upon us!


Perhaps you are having a quiet time on your own, or are busy with the comings and goings of family and friends. Whatever your circumstances, I trust that you will have an opportunity to reflect on the reason for Christmas. Beyond the jollities of festival celebrations is the fact that each one of us is desperately in need of help. Those of us who have experienced bad health are perhaps a little more aware of our frailty, but everyone one of us is sin-sick. We need someone to take the punishment we deserve, who will also give us  the goodness we don’t possess, in order to make us acceptable to a Holy and Loving God.



That provision was made in Christ, coming to earth as a baby, then dying to take the punishment my own wrong-doing deserved, and then rising from the dead to show that death no longer is to be feared if we trust in Him.What a wonderful reason to celebrate!



So even if the turkey is overcooked, or if things don’t go to plan, if circumstances are difficult, or if the battle to support health continues, we can still celebrate the wonder of wonders – that God became man in order to display his love to us.



Over the holiday my office will be closed for any emails or queries, but I will be back in the office on  Thursday 3rd January 2013. 



I hope that you will have a very Happy Christmas and a Healthy New Year.


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Enjoying Christmas

I have just read a blog post on ‘Surviving Christmas’, listing some helpful comments on how to cope with the business that the holiday entails. However, I would like to suggest that our aim should be not just to survive Christmas, but to actually enjoy this wonderful time of year! So here are some of my own thoughts on how clients can get the most from this special time of celebration, even while working to encourage health. 





Sleep: This may sound boring but if you are burning the candle at both ends you won’t have the energy you need to enjoy Christmas and the surrounding days. If you are supporting your gut ecology it is important that you get enough rest, so don’t be afraid to leave gatherings, parties or dinners earlier than the others. Don’t feel you are a ‘party pooper’, but prioritize your health. Perhaps an easy way that late nights creep up on us is just watching the television. With recording and catch-up, none of us need to stay up late to catch the end of a programme or film. Keeping up a good nights sleep through the holiday will help to maintain health.


Supplements: Your tailor-made supplement programme ensures that your body is receiving the nutrients it requires day to day. Even if you are travelling, visiting or receiving guests yourself, try to keep up your daily supplement programme. The vitamin C, friendly bacteria, and zinc and vitamin D within the multi, will all help to support your immune system at this busy time.



Keep up plenty of salad and vegetables over the holiday as these are packed with essential nutrients to support your health.


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Plan Ahead: With only a week to go to Christmas day, give some careful thought to what foods you need in the house to help you stick to your recommended diet. If you haven’t already got it, you may find Erica White’s Beat Candida Cookbook to be of invaluable help. It’s not too late to order it from Amazon in time for Christmas. Using the stuffing and gravy recipes I have posted over the past few days, the main course of a Christmas dinner, with Turkey and plenty of vegetables, is fine for most people on the yeast/sugar-free protocol. Get in plenty of fresh nuts to munch on while others are tucking into Christmas pudding, or make a dessert alternative. A very simple dessert is to use one mug of whole grain rice to 1 carton of Vanilla Rice Dream, and cook in a medium oven until all the liquid has been absorbed and rice is soft and creamy (about an hour). Serve hot or cold and for extra creaminess stir in some ‘Oatly’ Oat cream ( available in many supermarkets and wholefood shops – check it is the sugar-free version). To make the dessert more seasonal you may like to add a sprinkle of mixed spice or cinnamon, and top with some freshly cracked walnuts.



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Yeast-Free Sage Stuffing

Erica White’s Beat Candida Cookbook lists a very simple, traditional version of a sage and onion stuffing. You simply use whole wheat soda-bread breadcrumbs, or a gluten-free alternative,  rather than usual breadcrumbs:



Finely chop 2 white onions, place in a saucepan and cover with water. Add either 2 teaspoons of dried sage, or 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh sage. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently until the onion is soft and the water has reduced to just 3-4 table spoons. Stir in one and a half mugs of whole wheat or gluten-free soda-breadcrumbs, half a teaspoon of mild paprika and some black pepper. Pack into a small tin, or form into little balls.



The great thing about this recipe is that it is cheap to make, so you have an extra treat on the plate, without great expense!


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Yeast-Free Chestnut Stuffing

The basis of most shop-bought stuffing is  bread-crumbs. This of course is a problem for those on a yeast-free protocol, and means that if you want to enjoy this extra treat at Christmas, you simply have to make it yourself. However, this really isn’t hard, and it can easily be made in advance. I usually roll the stuffing into balls and freeze in a small baking tray, so all I have to do on Christmas day is to take it out of the freezer first thing in the morning and then pop into the oven about 45 minutes before it is time to serve.




Erica’s Rice and Chestnut Stuffing found in her Beat Candida Cookbook, is a favourite in our family. If you want to save time, some supermarkets now sell frozen cooked chestnuts, or if you look in the condiment aisle, vacuum packed cooked chestnuts. Do always check the ingredients, as producers have a habit of changing what they put into foods. Tinned chestnuts often seem to have added sugar, so these are not suitable to use, although I have just found that the Merchant Gourmet brand of pureed chestnuts is sugar-free.



The quantities in Erica’s book are quite generous, so I generally use 2 cups of cooked whole grain rice to 2 cups of cooked and peeled chestnuts (or a couple of packs of the Merchant Gourmet vacuum packed chestnuts – £1.99 in Tesco). Make sure the rice is well cooked, to help the stuffing bind together. If you have a food processor, simply throw the rice and chestnuts into the mixer, together with an egg and some freshly ground black pepper. I also add a couple of white onions, finely chopped and ‘steam- fried’ in a pan with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and two tablespoons of water. Add a lid and cook over a low heat until onions are soft. If this is your main stuffing you may want to season with sage, but if you are also preparing a traditional sage and onion stuffing (recipe to follow), you may like to use parsley or chives.



If you are making this without the help of a food processor you will have to finely chop the chestnuts, then stir into the cooked whole-grain rice, then add the cooked onions and other ingredients.You want the mixture to stick together when formed it into walnut-size balls.  If the mixture is too crumbly, add another egg. Make into balls and store in the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer if making it in advance.


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What about Chocolate?

If you walk into any health food store, one of the first things that will meet your gaze is chocolate! Although cocoa has  many reputed benefits, the protocol that I recommend maintains that even a sugar free dark chocolate is not helpful for balancing gut ecology. Cocoa contains theobromine,  a strong stimulant used by the Spanish to keep their armies going while conquering Central and South America. Chocolate (real Chocolate, not candy) can keep you up at night — especially very young children. Nursing mothers who eat pure chocolate will find their children wide awake several hours later. It is the stimulant properties of dark chocolate that cause us to avoid it while on a programme to support gut ecology.


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Within Erica White’s Beat Candida Cookbook she mentions an alternative to chocolate -carob. Carob provides several nutrients, and has a natural sweetness, meaning that it does not need added sugar to be palatable. This also means that if you are balancing gut ecology you shouldn’t eat too much.  However, if over the Christmas period you want a special treat, using carob may help you keep on track with your dietary recommendations.




Whether you want to add a carob bar to recipes, or melt it down to top oatcakes, rice cakes or Erica’s recipe for Choux pastry, sugar free carob can be hard to find. Siesta is a good brand to look out for and they produce carob flakes for melting down or bars of carob.




The links here take you through to Dietary Needs Direct, a great online company that sell products for those on limited diets. However, not everything that they sell is suitable for a yeast-free/ sugar-free diet. Carob is a good alternative for children. In Christmases past, I would make a bowl of natural popcorn for my girls and their friends to dip into a dish of melted carob, and then thread on cotton to hang on the Christmas tree.  Needless to say, not much made it to the tree!



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Food For Christmas


With Christmas just a couple of weeks away now, I want to blog some recipes and ideas that may help you support your health,  over the festive season.  At a time when the boxes of chocolates are just falling off the supermarket shelves, I want to encourage you in a healthier way to eat over Christmas.



For those of you who are following sugar-free and yeast-free recommendations to support gut ecology, don’t forget that Erica White’s Beat Candida Cookbook has lots of ideas. Adapting some of these can make them even more ‘Christmassy’. Adding some extra mixed spice to one of the sugar-free carrot cake recipes and serving it slightly warm can make a great alternative to Christmas pudding.




Serve with some sugar-free ‘Oatly’ oat cream,  natural yogurt or try one of Erica’s custard recipes. A simple custard can be made easily by mixing 2 heaped  dessert spoons of yellow maize meal with 2 mugs of Rice Dream/ sugar-free Oatly oat milk/ sugar-free Almond milk in a saucepan. Add one vanilla pod, split down the middle longwise, and slowly bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Reduce heat once it has reached a boil and continue to stir.  Add a little more milk if you want a runnier custard, stirring thoroughly.




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Food and Brain Health


Time for Wellness reports on some new research linking brain health to the food we eat.


A processed food diet is related poor memory and cognitive function while a whole food diet may help protect against age related cognitive decline.


In a study investigating association between diet and age related cognitive health in a sample of 249 people aged 65–90 years with mild cognitive impairment it was found that a processed food pattern (rich in desserts, biscuits, potatoes, refined grains, fried foods, high fat dairy, snacks, high fat takeaway, chocolate and sweets, processed meat and fish, sugar beverages and red meat) foods was associated with reduced memory and impaired higher cognitive function.



This type of study cannot prove processed foods increase mental decline with age, but it adds to a growing body of research suggesting that healthy foods are linked to a healthier brain. “The Mediterranean diet, characterised by a diet high in fish, fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants,” for example “has been associated with a reduction in the risk of Alzheimer disease in an older population” point out the study investigators.



As Christmas approaches, the tendency to consume highly processed foods increases. Over the next couple of weeks I will give some tips and ideas on how to stick to a yeast and sugar-free diet plan over the holiday season, including a basic gravy recipe, and ideas for stuffing.


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10 Rules to Support Health

Dr Mark Hyman lists 10 rules to eat safely for life, to help you eat and feed you family as healthily as possible. Each of these rules are compatible with a Nutritionhelp protocol.



You don’t even have to understand anything about nutrition.  Just follow these goof proof rules for getting healthy, losing weight and feeling great.



  1. Ideally have only food without labels in your kitchen or foods that don’t come in a box, a package, or a can. There are labelled foods that are great, like sardines, artichoke hearts, or roasted red peppers, but you have to be very smart in reading the labels.   There are two things to look for: the ingredient list and the nutrition facts.  Where is the primary ingredient on the list? If the real food is at the end of the list and the sugar or salt is at the beginning, beware. The most abundant ingredient is listed first and the others are listed in descending order by weight. Be conscious, too, of ingredients that may not be on the list; some ingredients may be exempt from labels. This is often true if the food is in a very small package, if it has been prepared in the store, or if it has been made by a small manufacturer. Beware of these foods.
  2. If a food has a label it should have fewer than five ingredients. If it has more than five ingredients, throw it out. Also beware of food with health claims on the label. They are usually bad for you – think ”sports beverages.”  I recently saw a bag of deep-fried potato chips with the health claims “gluten-free, organic, no artificial ingredients, no sugar” and with fewer than 5 ingredients listed.  Sounds great, right?  But remember, cola is 100 percent fat-free and that doesn’t make it a health food.
  3.  If sugar (by any name, including organic cane juice, honey, agave, maple syrup, cane syrup, or molasses) is on the label, throw it out. There may be up to 33 teaspoons of sugar in the average bottle of ketchup. Same goes for white rice and white flour, which act just like sugar in the body.  If you have diabesity – the spectrum of metabolic imbalances starting with just a little belly fat, leading all the way to diabetes— you can’t easily handle any flour, even whole-grain. Throw it out.
  4. Throw out any food with high-fructose corn syrup on the label. It is a super sweet liquid sugar that takes no energy for the body to process. Some high-fructose corn syrup also contains mercury as a by-product of the manufacturing process. Many liquid calories, such as sodas, juices, and “sports” drinks, contain this metabolic poison. It always signals low quality or processed food.
  5. Throw out any food with the word hydrogenated on the label. This is an indicator of trans fats, vegetable oils converted through a chemical process into margarine or shortening. They are good for keeping cookies on the shelf for long periods of time without going stale, but these fats have been proven to cause heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. New York City and most European counties have banned trans fats, and you should, too.
  6. Throw out any highly refined cooking oils such as corn, soy, etc. Also, avoid toxic fats and fried foods.
  7. Throw out any food with ingredients you can’t recognize, pronounce, or are in Latin.
  8. Throw out any foods with preservatives, additives, coloring or dyes, “natural flavorings,” or flavor enhancers such as MSG (monosodium glutamate).
  9. Throw out food with artificial sweeteners of all kinds  (aspartame, Splenda, sucralose, and sugar alcohols—any word that ends with “ol” like xylitol, sorbitol). They make you hungrier, slow your metabolism, give you bad gas, and make you store belly fat.
  10. If it came from the earth or a farmer’s field, not a food chemist’s lab, it’s safe to eat. As Michael Pollan says, if it was grown on a plant, not made in a plant, then you can keep it in your kitchen. If it is something your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food, throw it out (like a “lunchable” or go-gurt”).  Stay away from “food-like substances.”


That’s it – just ten simple goof proof rules for staying healthy for life. It is a simple recipe for staying out of trouble and automatically leads you to a real, whole foods diet.  And the side effect will be weight loss, energy, reduction in the need for medication, and saving our nation from the tsunami of chronic disease and Pharmageddon!



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Lunch boxes for Children


Continuing the theme of what we should be feeding our children, this report from Which? is very enlightening, demonstrating just how easy it is to compromise the quality of food  we feed the family for the sake of convenience.


Kids’ ‘lunch box baddies’ named and shamed.

Children’s foods loaded with sugar and salt.  

 16 November 2009


Your child’s lunch box could contain more than 12 teaspoons of sugar, according to a new report in Which? magazine.

Which? experts assessed the nutrition content of items targeted at children’s lunch boxes and found the healthy impression they gave was far from reality.


Lunchbox foods high in salt and sugar

Which? bought brand-leading items that fit into children’s lunch boxes and assessed their nutritional content in September 2009. Those found to be high in salt and sugar include:


  • Dairylea Lunchables Ham ‘n’ Cheese Crackers – one pack contains 1.8g of salt, more than half the daily allowance of a 4 – 6 year old.



  • Fruit Shoot Orange Juice Drink, each 200ml bottle is made up of 23g of sugar – almost 5 teaspoons.


  • Frosties Cereal Milk Bars – made up of seven different sugars, the 25g bar is almost a third (8g) sugar.



  • Munch Bunch Double Up Fromage Frais contains more than two teaspoons (12.4g) of sugar but only 2.25g of fruit purée.



Children up  and down the country are eating these foods regularly. High in salt and sugar, there is hardly any fibre, protein or nutrients in such pre-packed goods. So what are the alternatives?



We want to ensure that a lunch box includes a good source of protein, some whole grain carbohydrate for energy,  and some vegetables. Fruit is an option if the child’s gut ecology is balanced.



So what can this look like as a packed lunch? A pot of cooked rice/quinoa/couscous with cooked beans – chickpeas/red kidney/blackeye, with peas and sweetcorn is easy to prepare in advance and makes a good alternative to sandwiches. Simply cook extra grain the night before and stir in some ready cooked beans and defrosted peas and sweetcorn. Swap the grain for a whole grain pasta – wholewheat/brown rice/buckwheat/maize, and add some cooked and  flaked oily fish – salmon, mackerel, or chopped hard boiled egg. Add grated carrot for colour, texture, nutrients and fibre. Make sure the lunch pot is flavoursome, adding some extra virgin olive oil or cold pressed seed oils to moisten the ingredients, along with some herbs such as chives.



Whole grain pitta breads or whole grain crackers, oat cakes (great to make at home with the children) with organic cream cheese, home-made humus (shop-bought is highly salted) or pieces of cooked meat, or a home-made bean pattie will all supply important nutrients for a growing child.



Add a little bundle of raw veggie sticks – carrot, celery, cucumber, red pepper, radishes and baby tomatoes.



The packaging of foods is so important when a child’s friends all have brightly coloured, manufactured pots and packets. To compete with this buy stickers to add to the little pots, and use Baco Rainbow Snack Bags for veggies and fruit.


Look out for novelty cutlery forks to go in the lunch box to make eating the rice and pasta pots more exciting!


Water really is the best drink for everyone, so it is well worth investing in a BPA free bottle that can safely be re-used. These are now getting easier to find, coming in a variety of sizes and colours.



This does all require a little more thought, but reducing the sugars and additives in children’s foods may support both their immediate and long-term health.


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Healthy Eating in Children

As a mother and grandmother, this post on Raising Healthy Eaters by Dr. Mark Hyman is very close to my heart. Some of the examples and suggestions are geared for American readers, but it provides ideas for us in the UK to build on. Not all his recommendations are suitable for a client on Nutritionhelp’s programme to support gut ecology, but they are helpful for general healthy eating for the family.





What to Eat: Local, Seasonal and Whole Foods

What is local, seasonal or “cool” to eat as a kid will constantly change, but the fundamentals of sound nutrition and family mealtimes are pretty much set.  Fresh, whole, real and if possible, organic food is best.  I often get asked by my patients what a whole food is.  I answer them exactly how I taught my children:

  1. How many ingredients does the food have?  There should really only be one.  A whole food’s ingredient list is simply itself.
  2. Was the food grown in a plant or did it come from one? Real food is grown on a plant, not manufactured in one!  The less processing and steps taken to transform the food is ideal.
  3. Can you picture what the food looked like in its natural state before you bought it? I can picture a chicken easily but chicken nuggets?  Model Healthy Eating- Actions Speak Louder Than Words!


What you eat, how you eat, and why you eat what you do is really important because little people are keen observers who absorb everything you do. Think of them as sponges soaking in all the details from their parents.

Eating wholesome meals is more than modeling sound nutrition; it is about fostering family unity, connectedness, ritual, and identity as a group.

Children, even more than adults, enjoy and require routine.  Studies show the family who eats together, stays together.  Adolescents are less prone to risky behavior, disordered eating, drug and alcohol abuse, and tend to be better socially adjusted when they have a table filled with family or community to sit at and share meals with.   Instill the following in your household to ensure the best for your children, and YOU!

  • Set realistic boundaries about food choices and mealtimes.  Ellyn Satter  is a pioneer in feeding the family and raising competent young eaters.  Her most acclaimed work set the standard for the division of responsibility around mealtimes.  Next time your picky eater is giving you trouble, keep this mind: You provide the what, where and when and your child decides the if and how much.


  • Always provide at least one high quality food you trust is healthy but enjoyed by your child.  You are in charge of deciding what, but remember, your child can decide how much or not to eat at all.  It is okay if at first your child only eats a little bit of one food, he or she will eventually become hungry for change and ask to try what you are having.


  • Keep in mind that it takes younger taste buds numerous times to taste something new before really deciding whether or not they like it.  Be sure to offer your child a disliked food several times and in different recipes to give them an opportunity to keep trying.


  • Make mealtimes pleasant, relaxed, and fun.  Meals are a time to commune as a family.  Engage your child in conversation and keep the energy light and positive.  Stress is neither healthy nor productive for optimal digestion, absorption, and metabolism.


  • Do not use food to punish, restrict or even reward!  Food is nourishing information for all the cells that make up your child’s body.  Teach him or her from an early age to have a healthy relationship with food by not associating it with positive or negative reinforcement parenting.  Instead, use games or something non-food related to use as a reward for good behavior.


  • Know when to be the parent and enforce healthy eating.  For example, holidays, birthdays, or stressful times such as when your kid is sick can make it difficult to know what boundaries to establish.  When a child is sick, be a parent and keep all sugar and junk food away even if this is a struggle.  When they are healthy, they will thank you and, more importantly, trust you.


  • When there is a birthday or festivity, be celebratory and flexible but have a plan.  For instance, on birthdays give your child a choice between two whole food-based treats and have them choose one. For example, ask your child which meal of the day they want to be their special birthday meal.  Make it clear that birthdays aren’t excuses to binge on sugar and abandon healthy eating – in fact, it is a day to honor their life and celebrate good  health! If your child loves pancakes, start their day by making a healthier version … or make your own pancakes using lower glycemic almond flour and your child’s favorite berry. Again, kids like boundaries and sometimes too many choices can overwhelm the young eater. Keep it simple…


  • Other ideas include making your own birthday dessert instead of buying store-made options which usually have disease-causing ingredients. In my family we like to be creative and use tofu or avocado to make the base of a mousse or “fudge”. The special birthday person gets to decide toppings such as cacao, shredded coconut, berries, antioxidant-rich pomegranate powder, or crunchy nuts.  It’s fun to start traditions the whole family can look forward to!


  • If it is a holiday and you are wondering how to contain eating without letting the myriad holiday fare overwhelm you and your child, discuss the meaning of the holiday and make it a point to focus on the greater purpose of coming together.  Involve your child in food preparation and have them menu plan, shop, and cook with you. Participating in meal preparation breeds respect for the hard work involved and is an excellent way to get your child to develop an interest in healthier eating.  For example, as you decide between Spicy Roasted Squash versus Whipped Yams (recipes available in The Blood Sugar Solution) for Thanksgiving you can also teach them about selecting vitamin-rich squash or sweet potato as smart carbohydrate options.  You can also discuss why only one starch is necessary before moving on to select perhaps another low glycemic carbohydrate-based side dish such as Roasted Quinoa with Kale and Almonds or Pecan Wild Rice and Goji Berry Pilaf.  When you make your child a part of the festivities they proactively learn about eating well in a way that encourages bonding and fun without having to be lectured at or embarrassed later.


  • Most of all trust your young child to be naturally attuned to their hunger and satiety levels.  When a child is provided real, whole foods, unadulterated with sugar, poor quality fats, toxic additives, and food dyes their body knows exactly what to eat and how much.  They will eat just what their growing body needs when provided this high quality diet that their DNA evolved from. Over a few days, or even a week in certain cases, children will eat every type of food and receive proper nutrition if we do our part as parents. They know exactly what foods to eat when we don’t sabotage their natural instincts with candy or processed and convenient junk foods!  Remember, adults aren’t the only ones whose brain can become hijacked by sugar, salt, and fat!


Read the complete article here


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Young Children and Toxins in Foods

What doctors Don’t Tell You e-news has published some research showing how toxins in common foods may be negatively affecting the health of young children.
Toxins and pesticides are at dangerous levels in many of the foods we eat, and could be responsible for cancer and learning problems in the very young, a new study has found.
Many of the food samples tested by researchers had levels of cancer-causing toxins that were way above safe levels.  Although pesticides were one obvious source, carcinogenic toxins were created in some of the foods during the cooking and processing stages.
The toxins are staying in the body, say researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, after they tested 364 children, 207 of whom were of pre-school age.  All the children had such high levels of arsenic, dieldrin, DDe and dioxins in their bodies that each could cause cancer.  And 95 per cent of the children had high levels of acrylamide, a cooking by-product found in processed foods such as potato and tortilla chips and crisps.
And researchers found that pesticide levels were especially high in foods such as tomatoes, peaches, apples, peppers, grapes, lettuce, broccoli and strawberries.

(Source: Environmental Health, 2012; 11: 83).

In providing dietary recommendations for clients the number of toxins will be reduced, so this is another reason why getting the whole family onto a nutritious eating plan may be helpful. Where possible do swap to organic foods, especially for those listed at the end of the article. I have previously listed broccoli as being in the ‘Clean Fifteen’ , therefore not highly affected by pesticide residue, but the information here may indicate that it is worth using organic broccoli when available.




When organic vegetables are not an option, make sure you thoroughly wash them using a home-made cleaning liquid. Mix 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water in a spray bottle and squirt onto fruit and vegetables over the kitchen sink. Wash the produce thoroughly in cold water, using a scrubbing brush on tougher fruit and vegetables. Don’t forget to wash your organic produce too, to remove bacteria and dirt.



Acrylamidefacts.org lists some helpful Acrylamide Reduction Advice


As a general rule, acrylamide forms mainly in high starch foods that are heated to produce a fairly dry and brown or yellow surface. Acrylamide can be found in many common foods prepared by frying, baking, grilling, toasting or roasting, including:


The potential for acrylamide formation in food is related to how much amino acid – namely asparagine – and reducing sugars are naturally present in the food. These levels may vary significantly between different plant varieties and their conditions during growth.


Frying: This causes the highest acrylamide formation. In order to reduce acrylamide when frying, fry at lower temperatures and avoid heavy crisping or burning


Grilling: Consumers are advised to frequently turn food during grilling in order to avoid charring.  If charring does occur, remove charred portions before eating.


Boiling/microwaving: Potatoes that have been boiled or microwaved whole potatoes with the skin on (“microwaved baked potatoes”) do not contain high levels of acrylamide.

Generally, more acrylamide accumulates when cooking is done for longer periods or at higher temperatures.


Toasting bread to a light brown colour, rather than a dark brown colour, lowers the amount of acrylamide. Very brown areas should be avoided, since they typically contain the most acrylamide.


Cooking cut potato products, such as frozen french fries or potato slices, to a golden yellow colour rather than a brown colour helps reduce acrylamide formation. Brown areas tend to contain more acrylamide


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Support Bone Health

Helpful information from Dr Mercola on foods to support bone health:




In most people, sometime during yours 30s your bone mass will start to gradually decline.


For women, that bone loss speeds up significantly during the first 10 years after menopause, which is the period when osteoporosis often develops.

Scientists looking for natural compounds to counteract postmenopausal bone loss believe they may have found the answer in fennel, a much under-appreciated vegetable that is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean area.


In a study published in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine,1 it was found that eating the seeds of the plant had a beneficial effect on loss of bone mineral density, as well as bone mineral content.




Healthy bones maintain their strength through a continual process of bone breakdown and bone rebuilding. Osteoclasts are the cells that break down weakened bone, and osteoblasts are the cells that build it back up. The fennel appeared to work by reducing osteoclast differentiation and function, thereby slightly decreasing bone turnover markers and offering a protective effect on the bones.


Researchers indicated that fennel seeds show potential in preventing bone loss in postmenopausal osteoporosis. This vegetable, which has a celery-like base topped with feathery green leaves, has a long history of medicinal use, and has been valued since ancient times as a breath freshener, digestive aid, and for helping expel phlegm from the lungs.




It’s now known that the plant is a treasure trove of nutrients, including vitamin C, folate (the natural form of folic acid), calcium, magnesium, and more, as well as phytonutrients and antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation, boost immune function, and even help prevent cancer.


Fennel is just one example of a veggie that’s excellent for your bones. High vegetable intake has been associated with positive effects on bone mineral status for years. Eating high quality, organic, biodynamic, locally grown veggies will naturally increase your bone density and strength, and will decrease your risk of developing a fracture at virtually any age.


One reason why this is so important is because it supplies your body with nutrients that are essential for bone health, like vitamin K1 and potassium.


Your body needs potassium to maintain proper pH levels in your body fluids, and optimize your sodium to potassium ratio which also affects your bone mass. If you eat a diet loaded with processed foods, there’s a good chance your potassium to sodium ratio is far from optimal, which is typically done by consuming a diet of processed foods, which are notoriously low in potassium while high in sodium.


An imbalanced sodium to potassium ratio can contribute to a number of diseases, including osteoporosis. To ensure you get these two important nutrients in more appropriate ratios, simply ditch processed foods, which are very high in processed salt and low in potassium and other essential nutrients.


Also eat a diet of whole, unprocessed foods, ideally organically grown to ensure optimal nutrient content. This type of diet will naturally provide much larger amounts of potassium in relation to sodium, which is optimal for your bone health, and your overall health.


Read the whole article with references here


How can you use fennel seeds in your cooking? Use them to top home-made soda bread or oatcakes. You can also add 1/2 -1 teaspoonful when steaming, roasting or stir-frying vegetables such as cabbage, carrots and potatoes. Sprinkle a few seeds over finely shredded cabbage and onion, with olive oil and lemon juice for a winter salad.





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What You Should Know About the Contraceptive Pill

As many of my clients will know, The Pill may well play a role in encouraging yeast activity within the gut. Food Matters has posted a great article by Jess Ainscough on some other problems potentially relating to the oral contraceptive pill.



The oral contraceptive pill (OCP) is the most-used pharmaceutical drug worldwide with most women routinely prescribed it at some point in their life. Many young women are being prescribed the pill to ‘sort out’ a wide variety of health issues including acne, endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome.


The truth is, the pill isn’t necessarily the long-term solution to these problems and most likely, does not address the real issue.


What’s So Wrong With The Pill?


The pill’s job is to promote continuous high levels of estrogen in a woman’s body. It’s not difficult to see that this is dangerous.


A woman’s natural cycle is composed of rising and falling levels of estrogen and progesterone. Birth control pills work by keeping estrogen at a sufficiently high level so that the body is fooled into thinking it is pregnant, therefore another pregnancy cannot occur.


There are even some pills on the market that boast a woman can safely have a period only four times a year or avoid having periods altogether for years at a time, without a break from the estrogen blast.


Now that I know this, it’s easy for me to see how something so unnatural can be detrimental to my body. Just how detrimental is still widely unknown, as doctors still don’t know everything there is to know about estrogen or estrogen dominance (when estrogen levels remain high without being balanced by progesterone).


But, according to Dr Carolyn Dean, some known effects include:

  • Increased risk of breast cancer

  • Increased risk of blood clotting
  • Heart attack and stroke

  • Migraines
  • Increased blood pressure

  • Weight gain

  • Mood changes

  • Nausea

  • Irregular bleeding or spotting

  • Benign liver tumours

  • Breast tenderness

  • Yeast overgrowth

  • Endometriosis

  • Psoriasis
  • Digestive disorders


Something else that is interesting to note is that the metabolism of birth control pills by the liver requires extra amounts of the B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc.


That means if you’re taking birth control pills for years at a time, as most women do, you’re creating nutrient deficiencies.


Weight gain, fluid retention, mood changes, depression and even heart disease can all arise from nutrient imbalance. For example, high levels of an amino acid called homocysteine cause heart disease. And high homocysteine occurs when there is a deficiency of B vitamins and magnesium.



Read the full article here


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Osteoarthritis and Sugary Drinks

The latest e-news from What Doctors Don't Tell You




People suffering from osteoarthritis should keep off the sugary soft drinks—they only make the problem worse.

The drinks speed the progress of the disease, especially if the arthritis is attacking the knee joints, researchers have discovered after assessing the diets and lifestyles of 2,149 people with osteoarthritis, where cartilage in the knee joint breaks down.

Drinking just one sugary soft drink a day seems to quicken the disease and make the symptoms worse, even in men who are not overweight.  

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital discovered that the more drinks the people had, the worse their symptoms became.

(Source: American College of Rheumatology annual meeting, 7th November 2012).

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Gut Ecology and Carbohydrates

In my last post I noted that there are two main sets of foods that fall within the carbohydrate category – simple and complex, and these can be further assessed by looking at the glycaemic load of a specific food. So how does this relate to using carbohydrate foods while on a diet to encourage gut ecology – minimising yeast growth and encouraging friendly bacteria growth?



If you have ever made bread you will have first had to activate the yeast. To do this, in addition to warmth and moisture, the main ingredient to encourage yeast activity is sugar. And so it is within our guts.The high level of sugar within the Western diet is a main factor behind the large number of people who have symptoms related to excess gut yeast. The pathogenic yeasts within the gut should be kept in check by the presence of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and  friendly bacteria in the small and large intestine, but much of our diet does not include nutrients to encourage stomach acid production, while antibiotics, steroid and hormone treatments (e.g. HRT and the Pill) and stress all have a negative impact on the levels of friendly bacteria.



So in addressing gut ecology, we need to starve the yeasts and pathogens by depriving them of the sugar they need to feed on, and to encourage friendly bacteria by ensuring they have a plentiful source of nutrition.

It is in the area of how to starve the yeasts that nutritional therapists may slightly differ. Some say that all carbohydrates should be avoided, others say just added sugar should be avoided, but fructose in fruit is fine. It is no wonder that many clients come to mevery confused about the way forward. What advice should they listen to?



The approach I use was dvised by Erica White as she constructed a programme to restore her own health after years of illness due to the overgrowth of the gut yeast Candida albicans. She then went on to use this approach with thousands of clients. Erica found that it was vital for all simple carbohydrates (sugars) to be completely avoided, including fructose in fruit, in order to properly starve the yeast. She also found that as long as any other carbohydrates included in the diet were whole grain, this was generally acceptable and did not hamper bringing yeast under control. These whole grain carbohydrates are digested slowly, therefore not flooding the blood-stream with glucose, and therefore not providing food for yeast, either in the gut or in colonies around the body. Whole grain rice, whole grain wheat, buckwheat, quinoa, rye, oats and amaranth can all be included in the diet for the majority of people, and they will still see encouragement in gut ecology.



What about the sweeter, more carbohydrate dense vegetables? Again, these vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, sweet potato and butternut squash, can all be used by most clients. Potatoes I recommend should be eaten when they are still slightly ‘glassy’ and only  just cooked, as when fluffy they will have a readiness to turn to glucose.



Sometimes a client may find that yeast has damaged the integrity of their gut wall, making digestion difficult and leading to food sensitivities  Frequently, avoiding the gluten grains – wheat, rye, barley and oats makes a big difference, and this is an area where specific support from me may be beneficial.



And what about encouraging friendly bacteria? Unrefined grains and vegetables contain two sorts of fibre – insoluble and soluble – both of which are a food source for the beneficial bacteria in our guts. Murray and Pizzorno write of insoluble fibre in The Encycopaedia of Natural Foods:


“The best example of insoluble fibre is wheat bran. wheat bran is rich in cellulose. Although it is relatively insoluble in water, it has the ability to bind water. This ability accounts for its affect of increasing faecal size and weight, this promoting regular bowel movements. Although cellulose cannot be digested by humans, it is partially digested by beneficial microflora in the gut, for which it is the primary food source. The natural fermentation process, which occurs in the colon, results in the degradation of about 50% of the cellulose, and is an important source of the short-chain fatty acids that nourish our intestinal cells”


Soluble fibre is found in the majority of plant cell walls and can be subdivided into a number of groups. Murray and Pizzorno write, “Bacteria in the gut digest soluble fibre, increasing the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut and creating short-chain fatty acids which the colon cells use as fuel and which decrease cholesterol… A diet high in dietary fibre promotes the synthesis of short chain fatty acids, which reduce the colon pH, creating a friendly environment for the growth of acid-loving (friendly) bacteria.”



So the careful use of carbohydrates as whole, unrefined grains and vegetables can be included as a part of the plan I use in addressing gut ecology, while also providing an array of nutrients, fibre and an important energy source. For the majority of clients, they find this protocol a very ‘workable’ approach, enabling them to adapt family meals, and gain the calories and nutrients they need for day to day energy.


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The next main food group I would like to briefly discuss is carbohydrates. This is an area where a great deal of confusion exists, not least due to the fact that such a vast cross-section of foods fall within this one category. To explore this food group further I will refer to Murray and Pizzorno’s  book, ‘The Encyclopaedia of Healing Foods’.Once we have looked at some of the facts I will later explore how this food group fits into a diet to support good gut ecology.



Carbohydrates are classified into two basic groups:simple and complex…  Simple carbohydrates, also known as simple sugars, are either monosccharides composed of one sugar molecule or disaccharides composed of two sugar molecules. The principle monosaccharides that occur in foods are glucose (found in fruit, honey, sweetcorn and root vegetables) and fructose (found in fruits, maple syrup and honey).  The major disaccharides are sucrose, also known as white sugar, which is composed of one molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose; maltose (found in malted grains and syrups), which is composed of two molecules of glucose; and lactose (the sugar in milk), which is composed of one molecule of glucose and one molecule of galactose.


The simple nature of these sugars means that they are broken down, predominantly to glucose, either at the surface of the intestine or in the liver,  and absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly.



Complex carbohydrates or starches, are composed of many simple sugars joined together by chemical bonds. These bonds can be linked together in a serial chain, one after another, as well as side to side, creating branches. Basically, the more chains and branches, the more complex the carbohydrate. The more complex a carbohydrate is, the more slowly it is broken down. Some carbohydrates are complex in a way that the body cannot digest them. These carbohydrates are a main component of fibre, and generally pass through the digestive tract unabsorbed. In general, as long as complex carbohydrates are present in high fibre foods, the body breaks down complex carbohydrates into simple sugars more gradually, which leads to better blood sugar control.



Many in the medical and research communities now believe that excessive consumption of carbohydrates – specifically, carbohydrates that have been refined and stripped of their supportive nutrients – is a major contributing factor in a wide variety of diseases and premature ageing.



More important than labelling a carbohydrate simple or complex is to consider its glycaemic index or glycaemic load. The glycaemic index provides a numerical value that expresses the rise of blood glucose after eating a particular food.  The glycaemic load, takes the glycaemic index into account but gives a more complete picture of the effect that a food has on blood sugar levels because it also takes into account the amount of carbohydrate in the food.



For example, green peas and banana cake have nearly the same glycaemic index, but the glycaemic load of peas is just 2, whereas the cake’s glycaemic load is 21.6! Clearly, the glycaemic load offers a more helpful and healthy way of comparing foods.




In coming days I will write more about the different types of sugars – particularly lactose, and fibre, but for my next post I want to briefly consider the role carbohydrates have within a protocol to support gut ecology.


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Digestion of Protein

In order to digest food properly, our bodies produce an array of enzymes, each designed to target a specific type of food. The enzymes help break down the food, digesting it into particles that are small enough to be absorbed and used by the body. The production and efficiency of these enzymes may be affected by a number of factors, including nutrient levels and certain disorders, such as an overgrowth of gut yeast. If a client is struggling with digestion, I will include recommendations and suggestions to help this process.



Digestion actually begins in the mouth, so it is very important to properly chew food and allow it to become thoroughly mixed with saliva.The stomach then mechanically mixes the food, releasing substances that chemically break it down, such as hydrochloric acid (HCl). Hydrochloric acid, often called stomach acid, plays a key role, helping digest proteins, fat, vitamins, and minerals, maintaining the acidity of the stomach, and helping to kill bacteria, viruses, and parasites.



One specific enzyme that the stomach produces to digest protein, is pepsin. Pepsin is secreted as pepsinogen, which is inactive until it mixes with the hydrochloric acid, so you can see how important a sufficient level of stomach acid is. About 2-3 litres of gastric fluids are released into the stomach daily, so the stomach wall secretes protective mucus to prevent the stomach from being attacked and digested by the hydrochloric acid and enzymes it contains.



Digestion of course continues with other enzymes in the stomach and in the small intestine,but it is the production of hydrochloric acid that I particularly wanted to highlight today. The body slows in its ability to produce hydrochloric acid as we age.  This is affected by stress, but also a lowering of specific nutrients. So this is another benefit of receiving a nutritional supplement programme as part of your consultation. This programme will include the nutrients that are essential to support the body in producing hydrochloric acid.



When someone experiences indigestion they may very easily purchase over the counter antacids to help, thinking that they have an excess of stomach acid.  Unfortunately,  it is frequently the opposite that is true, the stomach is struggling to digest a protein meal since, due to stress or the ageing, it is producing too little hydrochloric acid to activate the digestive process. If you feel this may represent your own digestion it may be helpful to book a consultation where we can discuss and explore this more fully.



As my last post outlined, it is essential that we include sufficient protein in our meals to support health, but if you find that digesting protein is an uncomfortable process it may be that you could do with some extra support. Contact me to arrange a consultation to discuss this.


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Protein - Of Primary Importance

The word protein is derived from the Greek word ‘proteios’, meaning ‘primary’ or of prime importance. This is fitting, since protein is the most plentiful component within the human body after water, accounting for approximately 18% of its make-up. The body manufactures proteins to form a number of body structures including hair, muscles, nails, tendons, and ligaments. Proteins can also function as enzymes and hormones. The building blocks of all proteins are molecules known as amino acids.



Within the body there is a constant turnover of protein, as it is broken down into amino acids and rebuilt into new proteins, allowing continual growth, healing, and internal defence. Some amino acids can be manufactured within the body, others need to be obtained through the diet, and these are known as ‘Essential Amino Acids’.


It is clear to see that with protein playing such a primary role within the body it is vital  that the diet contains sufficient provision of these 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) in order to adequately support health. Animal products, such as meat, fish, poultry and dairy provide all 9 EAAs and so represent a complete protein. Plant foods lack one or more of the EAAs and so need to be eaten in combination in order to provide a complete protein.  For example, legumes provide a good source of most of the amino acids, but are low in Tryptophan and Methionine. However, grains and seeds contain these essential amino acids, so when eaten in combination with legumes, a complete protein is available. This is fairly easy to achieve within meals, serving beans or lentils on a bed of whole grain rice or serving humus (chickpeas and sesame seeds) with whole grain soda bread or oatcakes.






For anyone wating to support their health nutritionally it is important to include protein. Protein also plays an important role in helping to encourage good blood sugar balance. When food is eaten it is digested and absorbed into the blood stream to take glucose to the body’s cells. Carbohydrate foods such as sugars and refined grains are broken down very quickly, releasing a high amount of glucose into the blood stream.



The pancreas then has to produce an increased level of insulin to get the glucose into the body’s cells where it can be used for energy. The level of glucose in the blood then drops too low, (see the pale blue line above), leaving the individual tired, irritable, hungry, potentially suffering headaches and fatigue. Another intake of high carbohydrates brings an immediate lift, as glucose rapidly is absorbed into the blood stream again.  


This constant yo-yo affect of peaks and troughs in the amount of glucose in the blood puts a strain on the pancreas and the output of insulin in the long-term, as well as leading to many symptoms, as mentioned, in the short-term. However, eating protein foods together with unrefined carbohydrates, causes a more gradual release of glucose into the blood stream, (see the dark blue line above), providing a steady source of energy and taking the pressure off the pancreas. If someone needs to support their blood sugar levels I will often suggest that they include protein at each meal and a small amount of extra protein between meals to support a steady and gentle output of glucose into the blood. Adding chopped seeds to breakfast porridge, including humus with a salad at lunch, eating fish or poultry at the evening meal together with a good selection of vegetables, will help ensure that there is a steady release of glucose. Snacking on seeds,  natural yoghurt, or seed butter with oat-cakes or gluten free crackers,  may help keep the blood sugar levels even between meals.



Over time, including the right nutrients within foods and supplements should help support blood sugar levels in the long-term, but in the meantime, eating sufficient protein with each meal may support a good level output of glucose and so minimise any symptoms related to low blood sugar


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To help you include 'Ten-a-Day' vegetables in your diet here are a few recipes that make good use of some of the autumn vegetables that are available in the shops at the moment. 


Butternut Squash Soup

Gently steam-fry with a lid 1 large onion and 2 crushed cloves of garlic in 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons of water, or 1 tablespoon of unsalted organic butter. When onion is soft add 1 medium butternut squash and 1 potato, peeled and chopped into cubes. Add 1 litre of vegetable stock or water and simmer for about 30 minutes until vegetables are soft. Use a blender or food processor to blend the vegetables until smooth. Add a little more water if soup is too thick.  Return to the pan and season with black pepper, a little ‘Lo-salt’ and some dried chives. Swirl a spoonful of natural yoghurt into each bowl before serving if you are able to tolerate dairy.



Carrot and Ginger Soup 

Steam fry 1 finely chopped onion over a gentle heat for 5 minutes with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon of water. Add 750g of organic carrots, scrubbed and chopped and 3-4 cm of root ginger, peeled and finely chopped, and stir over the heat for a few minutes before adding 1 litre of vegetable stock or water.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the carrots are soft. Liquidise the vegetables in a blender or food processor until smooth. Season if necessary.




Roast Vegetables


Roast vegetables really are such an easy way to get a wonderful variety of veg into a meal with the minimum of effort and fuss. Nearly any veg can be roasted, so it is a matter of getting to know what combinations you like. I will often cook a one-pot meal, using organic chicken portions or salmon, and throwing around it any vegetables that are in the fridge, chopping them into 2cm chunks. Great basics are red onion, red pepper, carrot, butternut squash, and beetroot. As I put a lid on this pot I can also add broccoli and green beans, which would burn if roasted uncovered. Use galic and chopped ginger root, sprigs of thyme or rosemary according to taste. Add a tablespoon of virgin coconut oil.



Roasted vegetables on their own, or with salmon, will cook in about 40 minutes in a medium oven.  If you are cooking it with chicken it will need about an hour or more, and check it is thoroughly cooked.  Remove lid for the last 5-10 minutes.


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More Ways to Eat Veg

An important mind-set in eating for health is to focus on the abundance and array of foods that are supportive of health, and to add these plentifully to the diet.  The more you eat of an assortment of vegetables, the less you will be wanting to fill up on biscuits and sweets. Vegetables are a source of beneficial fibre, and packed with nutrients, so they should form a real back-bone to the diet.  I continue here Murray and Pizzorno’s list of ‘Easy Tips for Reaching The Ten-Servings-A -Day Goal‘, from their book, The Encyclopaedia of Healing foods. 



  • Keep a fruit bowl on your kitchen counter, table, or desk at work.


  • Pack some cut up vegetables in your briefcase or backpack, and carry wetwipes for easy clean-up. (Don’t forget that many supermarkets now sell vegetables ready cut as crudités)


  • Add vegetables to lunch by having them in soup, in salad, or cut up raw.



  • Increase portions when you serve vegetables. One easy way of doing so is adding fresh greens, such as Swiss chard, collards and greens to stir-fries.


  • Add extra varieties of vegetables when you prepare soups, sauces and casseroles. For example, add grated carrot and courgette to spaghetti sauce.


  • Take advantage of salad bars, which offer ready to eat raw vegetables, as well as prepared salads.


  • Use vegetable-based sauces and juices such as tomato juice and mixed vegetable juice.


My own last point is ‘Be Adventurous!’ Add as many colours and varieties of vegetable to your shopping basket each week, and don’t just stop with the ones you know. Try a new vegetable each week.  If you are not sure what to do with it check out some online recipes or email me at info@nutritionhelp.com for ideas. Next I will post a couple of autumn vegetable recipes.


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Ways to Eat More Veg.

In the coming days I want to highlight the importance of maintaining a good cross section of foods from all main food groups. There are certain foods that it may be important to avoid in order to encourage health, but there are an abundance of foods that can be enjoyed freely. Top of this list comes vegetables! Of course, there may be clients that need to avoid vegetables from the nightshad family, or who need to watch their potassium intake, but generally, vegetable intake should be increased. Drs. Murray and Pizzorno, in their book, ‘The Encyclopaedia of Healing Foods’, recommend that rather than staying with the government’s guidelines of ’5-a-day’, we should be aiming for 10 portions of fresh produce a day. I  will post some of their ideas today and next week from  their list of ‘Easy Tips For Reaching The Ten-Servings-A-Day Goal’.


If you are on a diet plan to support gut ecology you will need to avoid the fruit for the time-being, but if you are feeding a family it is better to encourage them to eat a piece of fruit rather than buscuits and cakes.



  • Buy many kinds of vegetables and fruit when you shop, so you have plenty of choices in the house


  • Stock up on frozen vegetables for easy cooking so that you can have a vegetable dish with every dinner.  You can easily steam frozen vegetables


  • Use the vegetables and fruits that go bad quickly, such as  peaches and asparagus, first. Save hardier varieties, such as butternut squash and apples, and frozen goods, for later use if you do not shop frequently in a week.


  • Keep vegetables and fruits where you can see them. The more often you see them, the more often you are to eat them.


  • Keep a bowl of cut-up vegetable at eye level in the refrigerator.  Choose carrot sticks, celery sticks, topped and tailed mange-tout or sugar-snap peas, slices of red pepper etc. to snack on when hungry.


  • Make a big tossed salad with several kinds of greens, cherry tomatoes, cut-up carrots,red pepper, broccoli, spring onion and been sprouts. Refrigerate in a large glass bowl with an airtight lid, so a delicious mixed salad will be ready to enjoy for several days. Do not add a dressing as this will prevent the salad from keeping so well.


I will continue the list from Murray and Pizzorno next week, but here I will add some helpful salad and vegetable dressings that are suitable for those on a Nutritionhelp programme, and can make a big difference to the enjoyment of meals.



Home-Made Mayonnaise


Break an egg into a blender with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, some black pepper and ½ tsp of mixed herbs. Whiz the blender on low, very slowly adding 1 cup of Rice Bran Oil (extra cold filtered by Alfa One, available in most supermarkets). This should result in a soft mayonnaise, however, all blenders are different so it will be a matter of getting to know how to get best results with your own machine – e.g. it may be best to add the oils slowly, but then finish on a fast whiz. Alter flavour according to taste, using different herbs or garlic granules etc. Keep refrigerated.






Olive Oil Dressing

Shake together in a jar 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Add fresh or dried herbs to taste.  If you find the olive oil taste too strong, replace 1 tablespoon with Rice Bran oil. Add more or less lemon juice according to taste. Keep refrigerated.




 Yoghurt Dip

Stir 1-2 teaspoons of chives and 1 teaspoon of onion powder and some black pepper into 1 cup of natural yoghurt. Keep refrigerated.





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Turmeric to Support the Liver

Completing our list on Foods to Naturally Cleanse the Liver, by Jonathan Benson




Turmeric, one of the most powerful foods for maintaining a healthy liver, has been shown to actively protect the liver against toxic damage, and even regenerate damaged liver cells. Turmeric also boosts the natural production of bile, shrinks engorged hepatic ducts, and improves overall function of the gallbladder, another body-purifying organ.



It is the yellow/orange pigment of turmeric that seems to be of benefit nutritionally. This pigment is called Curcumin and in a number of studies it has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects that are comparable to drugs, but without producing any toxicity.



Curcumin was featured on the ‘Food Hospital’ television programme a couple of weeks ago, where the potential for using it as a treatment for intestinal cancer was being researched.  It seems that there may be several ways in which curcumin may be helpful for cancer. Its antioxidant actions may protect the colon cells from free radical damage, while it may also help the body to actually destroy cancer cells, not least through enhancing liver function, thus preventing a spread through the body. For more information and references visit The Worlds Healthiest Foods



Turmeric is also reported to have cholesterol-lowering effects.  Research reveals that curcumin acts as a messaging molecule that communicates with genes in liver cells, directing them to increase the production of messenger proteins that direct the creation of receptors for LDL cholesterol. With more LDL-receptors, liver cells are able to clear more LDL-cholesterol from the body. (Peschel D, Koerting R, et al. J Nutr Biochem)



With Turmeric being a source of iron and manganese and  vitamin B6, this is a helpful spice to  regularly include in the diet. Nutritionhelp clients can use this spice freely as it is not a ‘hot spice’ that may interfere with gut ecology. Many mums have found that adding turmeric when cooking whole grain rice, disguises the fact that it is not pure white, and so helps the family in transitioning to a whole food way of eating. Turmeric has a strong, pungent taste, so a little goes a long way.


Try adding a pinch to oil and lemon juice for a colourful salad dressing. Add a pinch to natural yoghurt, together with a 1/4 tsp of onion powder for a dip for vegetable crudités. A quick, simple and cheap meal using turmeric is lentil dhal. The recipe below is suitable for most Nutritionhelp clients, but if you want to share it with others you can always serve finely chopped chilli on the side, for them to sprinkle over the meal as desired.



Lentil Dhal


Heat a tablespoon of coconut oil in a saucepan and add 1 bunch of finely chopped spring onions – including the green part. Fry until beginning to soften. Reduce the heat and add 1 tsp of finely chopped fresh ginger root, 1 tsp of finely chopped garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric.Stir for a minute, allowing the spices to begin to cook through. Add 1/2 mug of washed lentils and 1 1/4 mugs of water. Stir together, bring to the boil and then reduce heat for about 20 minutes until lentils are cooked thoroughly. Add a little ‘Lo-Salt’ if necessary and garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Serve with whole grain rice, cooked with 1/2 tsp turmeric, and steamed vegetables.


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Walnuts to Support the Liver

More from Jonathan Benson on Foods to Naturally Cleanse the Liver



Walnuts, which contain high levels of l-arginine, an amino acid, glutathione, and omega-3 fatty acids, also help detoxify the liver of disease-causing ammonia. Walnuts also help oxygenate the blood, and extracts from their hulls are often used in liver-cleansing formulas.



As many of my clients will know,if you are working to address gut ecology, any nuts, including walnuts, can only be included in the diet if they are bought in their shells and freshly cracked. Leon Chaitow wrote in his book, 'Candida Albicans, Could Yeast be Your Problem?', that, “All nuts, unless freshly opened by you will contain some degree of mould, and certainly a degree of rancidity of the natural oils. Eat current season nut, freshly opened by yourself, or else avoid them.”


Of all nuts, walnuts tend to be the easiest to find still in their shells, and as October progresses, we are seeing fresh nuts flood into our super markets and green grocers.  This is a great opportunity for those following a yeast-free protocol to enjoy the benefits of fresh nuts in their diet. Look out too, for fresh cob nuts ( a type of hazel nut) which grow wild in some areas of England.



Not only do walnuts support liver-cleansing, and taste great, but they are also a rich source of monounsaturated fats, reported to support heart health, and an excellent source of those hard to find omega-3 fatty acids. Manganese is also found in good levels within Walnuts, together with copper, potassium, calcium, iron,magnesium, zinc, selenium, and vitamin E. Bowls of uncracked walnuts, provided with nutcrackers, are a fine way to end a meal, and make an easy dessert alternative for clients avoiding fruit and dairy. While the walnuts are in season, try cracking them into salads and cooked vegetables for extra nutrients and crunch.



When purchasing whole walnuts that have not been shelled, choose those that feel heavy for their size. Their shells should not be cracked, pierced or stained, as this may be a sign of mould development actually on the nut itself, which renders it unsafe for consumption.





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Support the Liver with Avocado

Continuing Jonathan Benson’s list of Foods that will Naturally Cleanse the Liver:





Rich in glutathione-producing compounds, avocados actively promote liver health by protecting it against toxic overload, and boosting its cleansing power. Some research has shown that eating one or two avocados a week for as little as 30 days can repair a damaged liver.



In addition to supporting the liver, Avocado provides a source of fibre, vitamin K, folic acid, vitamin C, potassium and vitamins B5 and B6. Research has also shown that adding avocado to meals helps the absorption of nutrients known as carotenoids from other foods. 


One cup of fresh avocado added to a salad of romaine lettuce, spinach, and carrots increased absorption of carotenoids from this salad between 200-400%. Carotenoids are a good source of antioxidants – those substances that may protect cells against free radical damage, which may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases. This research result is not a surprise, because carotenoids are fat-soluble and so the avocado provides the source of fat that they need for absorption . Click here for more information on this.


Over half of the total fat in avocado is provided in the form of oleic acid. Oleic acid is also known as Omega 9 fatty acid, and is a mono-unsaturated fatty acid. Olive oil is another well known source of this oil.  As a monounsaturated fatty acid, it has been shown to help lower our risk of heart disease.






Avocado is a great food for anyone following a protocol to balance gut ecology. Mash it and spread it onto whole wheat soda bread or yeast/sugar-free crackers, or chop into any salad to bring texture, add flavour and increase nutrients.


The easiest way to prepare avocado is to wash it thoroughly, and then slice in half, moving the knife around the stone.  A ripe avocado, will be slightly soft to the touch and will ease away from the stone easily. Then cut into quarters and gently peel back the tough skin. Cut into chunks and add to your recipe.




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Encourage Liver Cleansing with Leafy Veg.

In devising a nutritional plan for a client I will attempt to limit and minimise foods that may put a burden on the liver. However, if a client is following a protocol to support gut ecology they will inevitably go through periods when levels of yeast are addressed, causing an increase in toxins produced by the dying yeast.  The liver therefore, will need as much support as possible to help it offload that extra rubbish. To this end I will frequently suggest specific supplements that may provide the liver with that extra support, but including specific foods to support the liver may also be beneficial. I continue the list from Food Matters by Jonathan Benson on

Foods that Naturally Cleanse the Liver.



Green Vegetables


Leafy green vegetables such as … arugula (rocket), dandelion greens, spinach, mustard greens, and chicory also contain numerous cleansing compounds that neutralize heavy metals, which can bear heavily on the liver. Leafy greens also eliminate pesticides and herbicides from the body, and spur the creation and flow of cleansing bile.



Rocket is now readily available in supermarkets and is simple to add to meals as a garnish or salad. Spinach is also enjoying renewed popularity, particularly with the availability of baby spinach leaves, which can be added to salad or lightly warmed. Adding a couple of handfuls of spinach to pasta or grain recipes, right at the end of cooking, simply allowing it to warm through and wilt, adds variety and colour to meals.



Rocket Salad:  



Finely chop two medium tomatoes and half a red onion and a small avocado. Toss into four handfuls of washed and dried rocket leaves. Sprinkle with 2- 3 tablespoons of sunflower seeds. Drizzle with a squeeze of lemon juice and a dash of olive oil. Enjoy as a light lunch or as a side-salad.




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Natural Liver Support

One of the reasons it is so important to support correct Gut Ecology is that unhelpful yeasts produce toxins,which may aggravate physical health in many ways, while also potentially influencing mental health and outlook.


The gut yeast Candida albicans is known to release at least 79 known toxins, so it is no wonder that someone whose gut ecology needs support may be feeling poorly, and struggling with depression, anxiety or panic attacks.

An additional problem is that as candida dies it releases even more toxins, (known as Herxheimer reaction or die-off) which may again have an impact on health while yeast levels are being brought under control.


For this reason, in supporting gut ecology I will take a slow and measured approach. Firstly a client introduces the dietary changes to starve the yeast, and commences a tailor-made supplement programme to support the immune system. This may cause an an initial increase in symptoms as the starving yeast releases extra toxins.  However, after about 4 weeks, things have usually settled down and the client feels ready to introduce the supplement to support friendly bacteria and a supplement to address yeast levels, such as caprylic acid.  Again, this must be introduced very slowly in order to minimise a build up of toxins from the dying yeast.  I generally suggest that a client starts with introducing the caprylic acid every other day for a couple of weeks, gradually building up to the full recommendation.



I will also suggest supplements which may be beneficial in supporting the liver while it has to deal with this increase of toxins. However, in addition to this it may be helpful to know of certain foods with a reputation of supporting the natural cleansing of the liver, in order to prevent those toxins from building up. 


Food Matters has an interesting article by Jonathan Benson, NaturalNews.com,  citing 7 Foods to Naturally Cleanse the Liver.  Some of these foods can easily be incorporated within my recommendations for balancing gut ecology,and so I will detail them over the next few days.



Benson writes:

The primary way in which your body expels toxins is via the liver, which detoxifies and cleanses your body by continuously filtering the blood of poisons that enter it through the digestive tract, the skin, and the respiratory system. But when your liver becomes overworked as a result of stress or excessive exposure to toxins, your entire system can be thrown off balance, and your health severely compromised.

Since the liver is also responsible for producing bile, another form of detoxification that is metabolically necessary for the breakdown and assimilation of fats and proteins from your food, it is exceedingly important that your liver be properly maintained. Without a well-functioning liver, your body will be unable to cleanse itself and absorb nutrients, which is a recipe for a health disaster.

“The thousands of enzyme systems that are responsible for virtually every body activity are constructed in the liver,” writes Dr. Karl Maret, M.D., about the importance of vibrant liver function. “The proper functioning of the eyes, the heart, the brain, the gonads, the joints, and the kidneys, are all dependent on good liver activity.”

“If the liver is impaired from constructing even one of the thousands of enzyme systems the body requires, there is an impairment in overall body function and a resultant greater metabolic stress on the individual.”

Following are foods you may want to begin incorporating into your diet in order to maintain a healthy liver.



1. Garlic

Garlic contains numerous sulfur-containing compounds that activate the liver enzymes responsible for flushing out toxins from the body. This bulbous relative of the onion also contains allicin and selenium, two powerful nutrients proven to help protect the liver from toxic damage, and aid it in the detoxification process.



Garlic is also known to have anti-fungal properties, but for many years it was thought that garlic may not be helpful in addressing yeast, since it killed off the friendly bacteria along with the pathogenic yeasts. However, research now shows that this is not the case, so garlic may be used freely in cooking.  However, if you are already using a supplement such as Caprylic acid to address gut ecology it would not be a good idea to introduce garlic in supplemental form, as this may kill off more yeast, leading to an increase in die-off toxins.



Need ideas to use garlic? Add a crushed clove into any sauces or soups you are cooking.  Try gently softening a red onion and two cloves of garlic over a low heat in coconut oil. Then stir in passata for a tasty and simple  tomato sauce.



Crush a small clove of garlic (roasted or raw for different flavours) into  4 tablespoons of olive oil and 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice with a pinch of dried chives for a spicy salad and vegetable dressing suitable for using on a Nutritionhelp programme. Throw a handful of peeled garlic cloves into the pan when you are roasting vegetables such as red onion, pepper, courgette and butternut squash. There are plenty of simple ways that you can benefit from this versatile vegetable



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Britain's Beige Diet

Natural Products Online reported back in August that Britain's refined and repetitive diet may not be adequately supporting health.


The monotony of eating the same range of foods is taking its toll on the UK’s nutritional intake, according to new research.

The research shows that the majority of British people eat the same foods at breakfast and lunch every day, and nearly half (48%) rely on a small bank of evening meals such as spaghetti bolognaise and chicken tikka masala.




In fact, 68% of people routinely buy the same foods from the supermarket each week, supporting the stereotype that the British really are creatures of habit.


The survey of 3,000 adults, conducted for the trade association PAGB, has revealed a distinct lack of variety in British diets and a marked preference for a ‘beige palate’.


Helen Bond, state registered dietitian and member of the British Dietetics Association (BDA), said: “Eating the same type of food every day is not only boring but could lead to deficiencies in certain nutrients if the foods are lacking in key nutrients.

“Not eating a variety of food groups, including lots of fruit and vegetables can also compromise the immune and digestive systems and, ultimately, long term health.’




• Cereal, toast and tea were voted the most popular breakfast options, while sandwiches came out on top for lunch, making up over half (51%) of all British lunches.




• For dinner, nearly half (48%) of participants consumed pasta at least once a week, followed by chips (38%) and pizza (32%).




• A quarter of respondents also indulged in fish and chips or other takeaways on a weekly basis.


The findings suggest that despite the wide variety of foods available in the UK, the vast majority of people (91%) regularly eat meals dominated by the colour beige.The average British evening meal normally includes two vegetables – carrots, broccoli and onions top the chart. However, one in 20 do not eat any and one in five only manage one. Whilst the most popular vegetables all contain valuable nutrients, says PAGB, eating local and seasonal options at their peak will mean they have the most flavour and nutritional value.



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Antioxidant Vitamins and Cancer

Back in August, What Doctors Don’t Tell You reported on the effect nutritional supplements may have in preventing cancer. Antioxidant vitamins can prevent deadliest cancer.  No Nutritional Therapist can claim to ‘treat’ cancer, but nutritional principles can be applied which may help to help prevent the disease, and to provide general support for the body systems if cancer is experienced. Get in touch with me if you would like to know more about how to include the nutrients mentioned below into your diet and supplement programme.


The risk of getting pancreatic cancer could be dramatically reduced if people took large amounts of the C, E and selenium antioxidant vitamins every day, say researchers.  This one change could prevent more than one in 12 cases.



The cancer kills more than 250,000 people worldwide each year, and 7,500 new cases are annually diagnosed in the UK. It is one of the deadliest cancers, with just 5 per cent of sufferers surviving beyond five years.


The link between the antioxidants and the cancer were spotted by researchers who had recruited 23,500 people into the EPIC (European Prospective Investigation of Cancer) study.
During the four years of the trial, 49 people developed pancreatic cancer, and this increased to 86 people by 2010.


However, those in the top 25 per cent for selenium intake halved their risk of developing the cancer, and the risk dropped further, to 67 per cent, among those whose diets were also rich in vitamins C and E.  This translates into one in 12 cases that would have been prevented, researchers estimate.



(Source: Gut, 2012; doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2011-301908).


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Using Herbs and Drugs with Children

What Doctors Don’t Tell You published 2 posts a couple of weeks ago, which highlight the lack of objective evaluation that health regulators have in assessing medications suitable for children:


Echinacea cold remedies are ‘dangerous’ for small children….

Health regulators have taken the first steps towards a total ban of natural products that contain Echinacea, campaigners fear.  UK and Irish authorities have this week warned parents against giving young children natural cold remedies that contain the herb.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the Irish Medical Board (IMB) say Echinacea can cause severe allergic reactions in children under the age of 12.  Product labelling will have to incorporate the warning.
Astonishingly, the warning is based on almost no evidence, other than one study.  The herb is considered to be safe by the authoritative European Medicines Agency.
The Alliance for Natural Health, which campaigns against restrictions on natural health products in Europe, believes the MHRA is testing the waters.  If there is no outcry to the warning, it may push on with a complete ban of the herb, it fears.
Send your protest to: richard.woodfield:mhra.gsi.gov.uk, or write to him: Richard Woodfield, Head of Herbal Policy, MHRA, 151 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 1SZ.
(Source: ANH website: http://anh-europe.org/news/anh-intl-campaign-feature-uk-authorities-go-after-echinacea-for-kids)

…but powerful antipsychotics are fine

While it’s ‘dangerous’ for children to take natural cold remedies that contain Echinacea, it’s apparently safe to give a three-year-old a powerful antipsychotic drug.  Doctors certainly think so, and are ignoring all the health warnings to hand out more and more prescriptions to small children.
In fact, the ‘off-label prescribing’ of antipsychotics to children is increasing by around 60 per cent a year.  In the US alone, more than 350,000 children and adolescents are now regularly taking an antipsychotic.
Although the drugs are supposed to be used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, most of the prescriptions were written for children with an ADHD (attention-deficit, hyperactive disorder) diagnosis.  
Researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who researched the dramatic increase in antipsychotic prescribing, are concerned that the drugs may cause more harm than good.  They can cause serious metabolic side effects in children, such as diabetes and weight gain.
Instead of reaching for the prescription pad, doctors could be thinking of non-drug alternatives to treat ADHD, such as counselling, the researchers say.
(Source: Health Services Research, 2012; 47: 836-60).
It is important to note that if you are on a programme to address gut ecology it may not be helpful incorporate Echinacea into your supplement programme.  This is because Echinacea may bring added support to the immune system which means that the immune system may be able to fight a yeast over-growth more comprehensively, leading to a rapid increase in ‘die-off’ (Herxheimer) symptoms as the yeast is killed. Taking the more gentle approach of supporting the immune system with a tailor-made programme of nutritional supplements may well bring about some initial die-off but then its purpose is to support the body as other supplements get on with the work of addressing gut ecology – to encourage a balance of microbes in the gut. However, Echinacea may well be a herb that you keep at hand for use with the family – as long as they are over 12 years old.
I would also like to comment in relation to the use of antipsychotics with children.  I wouldn’t want to disagree with a doctors treatment protocol but it is worth knowing that research links food (both deficiencies of beneficial foods and excesses of unhelpful food stuffs), and gut ecology to child mental health and behaviour. Do email me at nutrition@emma-cockrell.com for more information. Never take a child off antipsychotic medication without the approval and advice of their doctor.


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Fish Oil Boosts Reading

Food For the Brain recently sent an e-news article reporting research on using omega 3 with children:

Omega-3 improves reading in 'normal' children



In this double-blind randomised controlled trial, 362 Oxfordshire children aged 7-9 years old, who were identified as underperforming at reading but were attending mainstream primary schools, were given either a capsule of omega-3 fatty acid DHA (600mg) or a placebo. At the end of the 16-week study, improvements were seen in reading amongst the poorest readers and improvements were also noted in ADHD-type symptoms.



Our comment: Many studies have found that omega-3 oils have shown benefits in children with ADHD and autism. This study saw improvements in 'normal' children who had no diagnosed conditions but were simply struggling with reading, suggesting that there might be benefits for 'normal' but underperforming children from supplementing fish oil or increasing intake of oily fish. 



The health of children can be supported nutritionally in a number of ways, and ensuring that they recieve adequate omega 3 is a good start. Capsules can be helpful, but regularly including oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines in the diet, along with unroasted and unsalted nuts and seeds, will provide some of this valuable essential fatty acid and also help children get used to eating nutritious foods.


Do contact me if you would like to discuss how to best encourage your child's health and mental outlook.

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Applying Olive Oil for Joint Health

With autumn fast approaching and more than our fair share of rain, many people find that their joints may be feeling less 'free' than during the summer months.  There are many factors within Nutrition that may support joint health, whether it is affected seasonally or not, so do get in touch if you find yourself repeatedly rubbing a thumb, elbow or knee. You may also be interested in this bit of research reported on by Time For Wellness on the benefits of applying olive oil topically on joints.



Olive oil is rich in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients and rubbing it into sore joints may be more effective than a medicated cream.

To see how extra virgin olive oil compared to a topical medicated gel containing the anti-inflammatory drug piroxicam a group of thirty women aged 40 – 85 with osteoarthritis of the knee were asked to use either the medicated cream, or olive oil.

After the 4 weeks study the women using olive oil reported less pain and greater physical function than those using piroxicam and greater benefit was seen within just 2 weeks.

Compounds naturally present in extra virgin olive oil such as oleuropein and hydroxy tyrosol have been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory effects and may be in part responsible for many of olive oils health benefits. Relevant to arthritis, a recent study in mice found that oleuropein was able to reduce inflammation and joint swelling.


For references click here


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Diet can affect Depression?

Time For Wellness reports on how diet may affect depression:



In the last few years some compelling evidence that diet is linked to the development of depression has emerged.


In 2009 in the UK it was found that a “processed food” dietary pattern (mostly sweetened desserts, fried food, processed meat, refined grains and high-fat dairy products) strongly predicted the development of depression within 5 years, while a “whole food” pattern (mostly vegetables, fruits and fish) was protective (1). And at the same time in Spain it was shown for the first time that adhering to a traditional Mediterranean style diet prevented depression (2).



A subsequent study in 2010 in Australia came to a similar conclusion when it was discovered that a “traditional” dietary pattern (mostly vegetables, fruit, grass fed meat, fish, and whole grains) was associated with lower odds for major depression or dysthymia and for anxiety disorders compared to a “western” diet of processed or fried foods, refined grains, sugary products, and beer (3).


At the time of publication in the American Journal of Psychiatry an editorialist wrote:

“It is both compelling and daunting to consider that dietary intervention at an individual or population level could reduce rates of psychiatric disorders. There are exciting implications for clinical care, public health, and research (4).”


Through 2010 to 2011 associations between healthy eating and incident depression were demonstrated in Norwegian and Japanese adults and in adolescents (5-7). But despite tremendous evidence to suggest dietary change could prevent, or even treat, depression intervention studies are lacking.


Psychiatry with a fork

Remarkably, there are no randomized controlled trials of dietary change for the treatment of clinical depression. A few reports have looked at the effects of low-carbohydrate, low-fat or calorie restricted diets on mood state but these are not representative of the whole food patterns that have shown positive effects in the observational studies cited above (8).

One particularly interesting report however comes from Dr Dean Ornish and colleagues (9).  To ascertain whether people with depression, and established heart disease or diabetes, could make necessary lifestyle changes and reverse their illness a group of men and women were counseled on healthy lifestyle behaviors over three months.


During the treatment the participants attended a supervised lifestyle programmed twice a week where they were encouraged to eat a low-fat plant-based diet (details of which can be found in The Spectrum, by Dean Ornish), engage in aerobic and resistance exercise for 3 hours a week, practice stress management for 1 hour each day and attend support group sessions for 2 hours each week.


Over the three months all participants made the required changes to their diet and lifestyle and those who made greater changes were more likely to improve their health. It was found that 73% of people whose symptoms suggested clinical depression before treatment were no longer depressed, a remarkable result.


In addition to relief from depression there was also evidence of an improvement in psychological well-being with less hostility and perceived stress and improved quality of life. Heart disease and diabetes measures also improved.


While it is impossible to separate the effects of diet alone, this study demonstrates that comprehensive lifestyle change is an effective and safe approach to the treatment of depression.


Importantly all participants made the necessary changes dispelling the presupposition that lifestyle change may be too difficult, in fact those with worse health wore more likely to change. Compared to antidepressant medication, dietary and lifestyle change may not only improve depression but also elevate people to a higher state of physical and psychological wellbeing.


For references click here



There are many reasons why diet may affect our mental health and mood. A highly refined, high sugar diet may simply not be providing the nutrients necessary to support neurological health. In addition to this, food and environmental allergies can cause mental, as well as physical symptoms, including panic attacks and anxiety. Many of my clients have experienced how toxins released from gut yeast can affect mood.  This means that even when initial dietary changes are made, as mentioned in the article above, symptoms may continue while gut health is being supported. This does pass, and there are a number of natural supplements, including herbs and amino acids, which may be of help during this time.


Another, very basic factor which may influence mood is blood sugar balance. If foods are being eaten throughout the day that put a heavy demand on the production of insulin, blood sugar levels may be rising and falling on a regular basis, with each dip potentially influencing mood, stamina and outlook.


Do contact me at nutrition@emma-cockrell.com  if you would like to know more about how diet and supplements may help support your mental outlook.


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Gut Bacteria and Weight Maintenance

In working with clients, I place a high level of importance on encouraging and maintaining correct gut ecology, that is, the balance of friendly and unfriendly bacteria and unhelpful yeasts and pathogens within the digestive tract. If gut ecology is out of balance health may be affected in any number of ways, including immunity, skin health, IBS, Joint and muscle pain and headaches.


It comes as no surprise therefore, to find that new research is linking gut bacteria with weight management. Nutrigold reports on the latest findings:


We have recently reported on the Updates service about a study that shows how diets influence the levels of the two major families of gut bacteria associated with obese and lean people. Jumpertz et al (2011) found the levels of Firmicutes bacteria in the gut were increased with decreased Bacteroidetes levels (the opposite to that found in lean people) when switching from a low-fat, vegetarian based diet to a high-fat, high-sugar diet. These gut bacterial populations changed in a relatively short period of time as the composition of the diet changed. In some cases the shift occurring in just one day!



Further research has revealed that a 20% increase in Firmicutes and a decrease in Bacteroidetes (the opposite of what is observed in weight loss) are associated with an increase in the harvest of energy from the diet of about 150kcal (Shanahan, 2011).These studies highlight how dietary changes have rapid effects on the composition of gut bacteria and how this may lead to changes in the amount of energy we harvest from our food and ultimately fat storage. It also develops the theory that it is solely ‘calories in versus calories out’ (i.e. energy intake versus energy expenditure) that influences weight gain.  It might not be just what food obese people are eating but also what types of gut bacteria are present and how they are processing the energy from food. Coupled to, this a recent study has shown that gut bacteria can also regulate appetite hormones (Duca, 2012). This suggests that gut bacteria can control our weight (either gain or loss) via influencing levels of nutrient sensors such as ghrelin as well as energy harvest from the food we eat.



This is early days in this area of research but these studies further reinforce the role of supporting gut health through diet and probiotic containing foods and multi-strain probiotic supplements. It seems that by supporting gut health and beneficial bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus species, goes some way to maintaining optimal health.



I will frequently recommend a supplement protocol to provide friendly bacteria from both the Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus species as mentioned above, whilst also recommending nutrients to address yeast levels, to ensure gut ecology is balanced.


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Cereal Bars are not so Healthy

The marketing of many snacks and bars is geared towards presenting a healthy image. However, as this report from WHICH, covered in the BBC News on 18th August reveals, most cereal bars are far from offering a healthy alternative to sweets. If you want to cut down on sugar, don’t take anything for granted and read the ingredients label!



The image of cereal bars as a healthy snack is a “myth”, according to a study by Which?


The consumer group found all but one of the 30 bars it analysed were high in sugar, with more than half containing over 30% sugar.


One bar, Nutri-Grain Elevenses, contained nearly four teaspoons – more than in a small can of cola and 20% of the recommended daily allowance.

Other snacks it analysed were found to be high in fat and saturated fat.


The Tracker Roasted Nut bar, for example, was almost a third fat.

Meanwhile, six of the seven cereal bars targeted at children were high in saturated fat, the study found.

And Monster Puffs, a cereal bar marketed to children and described as “great for your lunchbox”, contained 43.5% sugar – more than two teaspoons.



Which? compared the nutritional content of the bars using the manufacturers’ information and applied traffic light labelling to see if the levels of fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt were high, medium or low.


The Nakd Apple Pie was the only bar in the study that did not contain any added sugar, while the Alpen Light Apple and Sultana was the only one to have three green traffic lights for fat, saturated fat and salt.

Which? is calling for manufacturers to reduce sugar and fat in food products marketed to children and for tighter controls over the way they are promoted.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “People often choose cereal bars in the belief they’re healthier than chocolate or biscuits, but our research shows this can be a myth.”



The Nakd company produce the Apple Pie bar and Berry Cheeky bar without added sugar, which may be good for lunch boxes, but do check the ingredients lists, as some of their other bars do contain added sugar. If any of my clients are working on balancing gut ecology they will have to avoid all forms of sweetening For them, unsweetened oat-cakes, either home-made or shop-bought, can be a great snack. Erica White’s Beat Candida Cookbook is full of helpful ideas and tips on how to keep hunger at bay while following a yeast/sugar-free programme.


Do consider contacting me if you feel you would benefit from personal advice on nutrition.


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Listen to Your Body - Frequent Colds

Completing the list from Food Matters on 9 symptoms you shouldn’t ignore.


You’re short on good flora…


One likely signal: Frequent colds



Background: The immune system‘s command center is housed inside the gut. “An ecological imbalance of organisms in the gut means the body can’t defend itself against unfriendly microbes,” says Swift. “The result is we get sick a lot.” Ironically, says Hyman, it’s often medicine, such as antibiotics, that wipe out the gut’s supply of good bacteria. “When we wipe them out again and again with antibiotics and then eat a poor diet, it’s a disaster for the gut.” That, in turn, can spell trouble for the rest of the body.



Other signals: Intestinal gas, bloating, loose stools or constipation, vaginal yeast infections, urinary tract infections, skin rash, athlete’s foot, nail fungus


It is amazing to understand that the balance of microbes in the gut affects our whole immune system, including how frequently we go down with colds. This is why supporting correct gut ecology is frequently an approach that I follow. Unfortunately, balancing gut ecology isn’t quite as simple as taking a ‘probiotic drink’ every day. Most of these are packed with sugar, which will not encourage a good balance within the gut. Specific diet recommendations, together with a supplement plan to provide valuable nutrients and address both friendly bacteria and yeasts, may help encourage gut ecology and thus health in general.


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Listen to Your Body - Indigestion

Indigestion may be affected by a number of factors, which I would take into account in providing nutritional recommendations for a client. Food matters takes up one of those factors here, as we continue with their list of 9 symptoms you shouldn’t ignore.


You’re low on stomach acid…


One likely signal: Burping and indigestion


Background: If you’re low on stomach acid, your body won’t digest foods efficiently, especially dense foods like fats and proteins. When food sits in the stomach, so does the air you naturally swallow when you eat. The air has only two options — get pushed down the digestive tract with food or catch the next flight up the esophagus and out the mouth. The longer food loiters in the stomach, the more likely you’ll burp.



Other signals: Gastric reflux, weak immune system, cracked fingernails, chronic infections, gas


How to respond: Boost the first phase of digestion by becoming a more “sensory-based eater,” says Swift. “That means enjoy the sight and smell of the meal before you dig in so that your gut has time to release digestive factors, such as hydrochloric acid, in anticipation of a meal.” Then, eat more mindfully. Chew your food so that it’s easier for the gut to digest, especially proteins and fats.


If you still feel like your food sits in your stomach like a rock, Haas recommends trying digestive enzymes, which can help you better digest your food. For example, he says, you might try a product called betaine hydrochloride with pepsin (a time-released protein digestant), found at health-food stores.

Hydrochloric acid is the main ingredient in stomach acid. By taking it as a supplement, you’re basically giving your stomach a head start, especially with proteins and fats, which are the hardest food stuffs to digest, meaning they require more stomach acids than carbs. After you begin eating a meal with protein and fat, for instance, take one capsule. See how you feel after a couple of meals. If you feel OK, you can try two capsules and gradually increase to three or four. If you have any sensation of burning or acid indigestion, cut back to a level where you didn’t experience any negative side effects.



Stomach acid does actually decline with age, so it could be that many of the indigestion problems that are generally put down to excess acid, may be caused by too little stomach acid. The suitability of supporting digestion with digestive enzymes or Hydrochloric acid as Betain Hydrochloride would be discussed within a consultation if someone was suffering symptoms of indigestion. As mentioned above, this should be introduced very carefully and gradually in order to avoid any burning or too great an increase in acid. A nutritional supplement programme would also ensure that the nutrients essential for the effective production of HCl are included in the diet, so that digestion is supported long-term.


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Listen to Your Body - Caffeine

More from food Matters on 9 symptoms you shouldn’t ignore



You’re drinking too much caffeine…



One likely signal: Fatigue


Background: “Caffeine goes to an already low energy bank account and tries to lend it a little extra energy for the short term,” says Haas. “But it’s getting that energy from your own stores, meaning you have less and less on reserve, leaving you less able to generate your own energy on an ongoing basis.”


Caffeine works by stimulating the central nervous system. Specifically, the chemical gooses the adrenal glands into releasing hormones — namely cortisol and adrenaline that tell the body to go faster. The short-term result can be increased focus and better hand-eye coordination. But overdo caffeine on a regular basis and, eventually, the central nervous system runs out of gas. “If you don’t restore yourself with sleep, nutrients and relaxation, you’ll quickly get into a cycle of whipping a weakened horse,” says Haas.


Other signals: Jitters, agitation, insomnia, heartbeat irregularities, frequent urination



Don’t forget that caffeine is also in energy drinks, tea and some pain-killers. I advise that clients come off all caffeine in order to minimise the load on the adrenal glands, encourage good blood sugar balance and to avoid the stimulant effect that can continue to play a role on gut ecology. For many people, the barrage of stimulants, a high sugar diet and the pressures of modern living will mean that not only is a diet change important, but it may be that the adrenal glands require more specific support. I can arrange for an Adrenal Stress Profile lab test to help understand how well the adrenal glands are actually functioning. Try replacing coffee with fresh brewed dandelion coffee or an instant grain beverage, such as Barley Cup.  Herb teas are now readily available in coffee shops and supermarkets. Repalce tea with Redbush/Rooibos, which is now available as a green tea or with spices for a variation on Chai. 



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Listen to Your Body - Eczema

Continuing Food Matters list of 9 Symptoms you Shouldn’t Ignore


You’re eating something that doesn’t agree with you…


One likely signal: Eczema


Background: First a little background about food intolerances. When the body doesn’t tolerate a food well, ingesting that food creates a chronic, low-level irritation or inflammation in the gut. Over time, with regular exposure, the irritation worsens and creates fissures in the spaces between the cells. (Picture the walls of the gut, once tightly knitted together, looking more like an old afghan.)



These holes allow bacteria and their toxins, as well as incompletely digested proteins and fats, to “leak” out of the gut and into the bloodstream. Called leaky gut syndrome (or increased intestinal permeability), this condition sets the stage for myriad health problems, including rashes and skin problems, like eczema.


The skin is the body’s largest elimination organ, notes Lipski, so it’s not surprising that it comes under assault when toxins careen through the bloodstream. “A skin rash or eczema is a sign that the body is trying to slough out these toxins,” she says. “It’s trying to eliminate the problem the best way it knows how.


Other signals: Gas, bloating, fatigue, sinus congestion, foggy thinking


How to respond: An elimination diet is the best way to pinpoint the offending food. “Start with one or two foods you suspect,” says Swift, who prefers to call this the “illumination diet” because its focus is on “illuminating your health.”


Don’t know where to start? Foods that are most likely to wreak havoc on the gut include wheat and gluten-containing products, dairy products, sugar, soy, eggs, corn and yeast. If you’re uber-motivated, take Haas’s advice and go off what he calls “the big five” for a week: wheat, dairy, sugar, caffeine and alcohol. “It’s not easy to do”, he admits, “but you’re guaranteed to learn a lot about your body’s signals.” You might also consider keeping a food journal. Spend a week or two writing down what you eat and how your body feels in the minutes, hours and days afterward (e.g., an hour after you eat dairy, you feel bloated). “It’s about pattern and symptom recognition and connecting the dots,” says Swift, which in turn helps you decide which foods to eliminate first.



It can be quite difficult to identify if a specific food is affecting health, so request a consultation if you would like support and help in how to go about identifying whether a food shouldbe avoided or not.  Also, once a culprit food has been removed, and once gut ecology has been balanced, there are certain nutrients which may be helpful in healing the gut wall.  This is not a quick process, but with the support of a nutritional therapist the integrity of the gut wall may be encouraged.

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The British Diet

Nutrigold comments on the National Diet and Nutrition Survey:




A government national survey has shown that the British diet is still falling well below the minimum standard set to avoid illness. Bearing in mind that these results are based on government recommendations for dietary intake that are often well below optimum levels required for good health, the situation may be even worse than the Department of Health reports. The findings reveal:

  • VEGETABLES: Only 1 in 10 children and a third of adults are getting their 5 a day
  • OILS AND FATS: We are eating a third of the oily fish recommended for children and adults, while exceeding the recommended levels for saturated fat
  • SUGAR: Our sugar intake is considerably higher than recommended, especially in 11-18 year olds
  • VITAMINS: 13% of teenagers are severely deficient in vitamin A and 21% of teenagers are especially low in riboflavin
  • Up to 20% of men, women and children all showed vitamin D deficiency below the government’s lower threshold for adequacy
  • MINERALS: Teenagers are eating mineral-deficient diets
  • Both women and teenage girls are lacking iron – in fact 23% of women aged 19-64 and 46% or girls aged 11-18 have severe deficiencies. As a result, 3.3% of women aged 19-64 and 5.6% of teenage girls have evidence of iron-deficient anaemia and low iron stores

We need good nutrition at any stage of life to prevent illness and keep us feeling full of beans. For children and teenagers, who are still developing, optimal nutrition is critical for their future health, fertility, vitality and sense of wellbeing. The fact that only 1 in 10 of them are eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, that their oily fish intake is well below par and their sugar intake far above recommendations is of concern. The levels of nutritional deficiency for children and adults alike goes a long way towards explaining the rising levels of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases.


Coontact me for a consultation if you would like help in ensuring your diet includes essential nutrients to support health.


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Listen to Your Body - Vitamin B

More from Health Matters on 9 Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore


One likely signal: Cracks at the corners of the mouth



Background: “You see nutritional deficiencies first in those tissues that turn over the quickest, such as the tongue and lips,” says Lipski. Studies show that cracks or sores that appear at the corners of the mouth (a.k.a. cheilitis) may be a sign that your body isn’t getting enough B vitamins. “Deficiencies of one or more of the B vitamins may occur fairly easily,” notes Haas, “especially with diets that include substantial amounts of refined and processed food, sugar or alcohol.”


Other signals: Anemia, low energy, fatigue, skin problems, dark circles under the eyes


How to respond: Your best bet is eating a whole-foods diet and prioritizing foods high in B vitamins. The richest dietary source of B vitamins is found in brewer’s yeast or nutritional yeast (although, if you have candida issues, you’ll want to skip those). Other solid picks include wheat germ, whole grains, legumes, egg yolks, sweet potatoes, salmon, red meat, liver and poultry.


Taking a good B-complex vitamin supplement can also be helpful (particularly if you’re a vegetarian). Under the care of a nutritionally inclined health professional, you may also be prescribed a supplement for a specific B vitamin (or even given a vitamin B-12 shot) to help correct a significant deficiency. But be careful mixing up your own B-vitamin cocktails. When taken in excess and out of balance with other B’s, certain B vitamins can wind up leaching nutrients out of your system. That’s why emphasizing B-rich foods should be your first priority.


Do contact me for a consultation if you think that you may need some extra nutrients. I can make recommendations specific for your health status in order to support optimum health.


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Consumer Reports and Nutritional Supplements


From the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, August 10, 2012


by Andrew W. Saul, Editor


Chicken Little was in the library one day when a copy of Consumer Reports for September 2012 fell on her head. She read their “10 Hidden Dangers of Vitamins” and it scared her so much she trembled all over. Why? Because Chicken Little had read other negative articles on nutrition supplements. . . and now this! She became so afraid that half her feathers fell right out.


“Help! Help!” she said. “Vitamins are killing us! I have to go tell the President!”



So she ran in great fright to tell the President. Along the way she met Henny Penny.


“Where are you going, Chicken Little?” said Henny Penny.


“Oh, help! Vitamins are killing us!” said Chicken Little.


“How do you know?” said Henny Penny.


“I read it with my own eyes,” said Chicken Little, “It was in Consumer Reports! And part of it fell on my head!”


“Vitamins are killing us? This is terrible, just terrible!” said Henny Penny. “We’d better hurry up.”


So they both ran away as fast as they could. Soon they met Ducky Lucky.


“Where are you going, Chicken Little and Henny Penny?”


“Vitamins are killing us! Vitamins are killing us!” said Chicken Little and Henny Penny. “We’re going to tell the President!”


“How do you know vitamins are killing people?” said Ducky Lucky.


“I read it with my own eyes in Consumer Reports,” said Chicken Little, “And heard it with my own ears on the news, saw it on the internet, and the magazine fell on my head.”


“Oh dear, oh dear!” Ducky Lucky. “We’d better run!”


So they all ran down the road as fast as they could. Soon they met Goosey Loosey walking down the roadside.


“Hello there. Where are you all going in such a hurry?”


“We’re running for our lives!” said Chicken Little.


“Vitamins are killing us!” said Henny Penny.


“And we’re running to tell the President!” said Ducky Lucky.


How do you know that vitamins are killing people?” said Goosey Loosey.


“I read it in Consumer Reports,” said Chicken Little, “And part of it fell on my head!”


“Goodness!” said Goosey Loosey. “Then I’d better run with you.”



And they all ran in great fright across a field. Before long they met Turkey Lurkey strutting back and forth.


“Hello there, Chicken Little, Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, and Goosey Loosey. Where are you all going in such a hurry?”


“Help! Help!” said Chicken Little. “Vitamins are killing us!”


“We’re running for our lives!” said Henny Penny.


“And by the way, the sky is falling!” added Ducky Lucky.


“So we’re running to tell the President!” said Goosey Loosey.


“How do you know that vitamins are killing us?” asked Turkey Lurkey.


“CONSUMER REPORTS SAID SO!” they all answered together.


“Oh dear!” said Turkey Lurkey. “I always suspected those damned supplements were dangerous! I’d better run with you.”


So they ran with all their might, until they met Pharma Fred the Fox.


“Well, well, well,” said Pharma Fred. “Where are all of you rushing off to on such a fine day?”


“Help! Help!” cried Chicken Little, Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey, and Turkey Lurkey all together. “It’s not a fine day at all. Vitamins are killing us, the sky is falling, and we’re running to tell the President!”


“But of course vitamins are killing you,” cooed Pharma Fred the Fox. “Now all of you calm down. Here, have a Prozac.”


Chicken Little, Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey, and Turkey Lurkey each swallowed a few Prozacs, and some Valium for good measure.


“Well then,” said Pharma Fred the Fox. “How did you learn of how dangerous those vitamin supplements really are?”


“I read it with my own eyes in Consumer Reports,” said Chicken Little.



“I see,” said Pharma Fred the Fox. “Well then, come with me. I’ll take you straight to the President. Yes, indeed I will!”


 So Pharma Fred the Fox led Chicken Little, Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey, and Turkey Lurkey away. He led them across a field and through the woods, but took them nowhere at all near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Pharma Fred led them straight to his den, and none of them ever saw the President.


However, Foxy Pharma Fred had a most delicious dinner.


The moral of the story? Vitamin therapy pioneer Abram Hoffer, M.D., once told me that the worst fate vitamin bashers could experience would be to never, ever have use of the nutrition supplements they so often criticize.


As for the rest of us, the sky is not falling. There is not even one death from vitamins over the last 28 years. [1]


We are a nation of sick, undernourished, and overmedicated people. Half the population is on prescription drugs. [2]


Pharmaceuticals, taken as directed, kill over 100,000 per year just in the US. [3]


Antibiotics cause 700,000 emergency room visits per year, just in the US. [3]


Modern drug-and-cut medicine is at least the third leading cause of death in the USA. Some estimates place medicine as the number one cause of death. [3]


Over 1.5 million Americans are injured every year by drug errors in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and nursing homes. [3]


If in a hospital, a patient can expect at least one medication error every single day. [3]


Vitamins are not the problem; they are the solution. Taking supplemental B-vitamins, vitamin E and vitamin D each individually reduces lung cancer by 50%. [4-7]


Vitamin C stops cancer more effectively than chemotherapy. [8-10]


HIV-positive persons taking vitamins are 50% less likely to develop AIDS. [11] And if they do, AIDS patients taking supplements have a 27% lower death rate. [3]


Consumer Reports should stick to testing laundry appliances. That’s what they are good at.



For references click here


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Listen to Your Body - Fibre

Continuing Food Matters list of 9 symptoms you should not ignore



You’re not getting enough fibre…




One likely signal: Constipation


Background: Constipation is the clearest indicator of the body’s need for more fiber. “Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate up to 100 grams of fiber a day and had an average stool weight of 2 pounds,” says Mark Hyman, MD, the editor of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine and author of The UltraSimple Diet (Pocket Books, 2007).


“Today, the average American eats less than 8 grams of fiber a day, and the average bowel movement is a puny 4 ounces.” That’s a problem, he says, because the bowels are key to the body’s elimination process. When traffic is backed up, toxins from the bowel leach back into the body and can cause a multitude of inflammation-based health problems in everything from your digestion and skin to your heart and brain. They can also disrupt hormonal balance and immunity. The bottom line, Hyman says: “If stools are hard and hard to pass, you’ve got a problem.”


Other signals: Frequent hunger pangs, energy slumps, digestive trouble, skin problems, inflammatory conditions


How to respond: Eat more legumes, vegetables, (fruits) and whole grains. All are chock-full of fiber and other nutrients, making them natural go-to foods. Getting the recommended 35 to 40 grams of fiber a day not only improves bowel health, but it also lowers the risk of diabetes and heart disease, says Andrew Weil, MD, director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine of the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona in Tucson.



If you want other ways to sneak extra roughage into your day, Swift suggests … a seasoning she makes out of crushed pumpkin seeds, ground flax meal, sesame seeds, kelp flakes and sea salt — basically, a riff on gomasio, which is used as a salt alternative in Japanese cuisine. Put it in a wrap, sprinkle over brown rice or use to garnish soups, she says. “The nuts, seeds and ocean veggies are a nutrient- and fiber-licous powerhouse.” (Keep it in the fridge to lengthen its lifespan.)



Try making the gomazio above but without the sea salt as there is a saltiness in the seaweed. If you can’t find kelp flakes, most supermarkets now stock Nori sheets. Lightly toast a sheet of Nori under a grill for a few seconds and then finely crumble it into the ground seed mixture.

I do not  encourage adding bran to foods, as this may be too harsh on the digestive system, stripping away beneficial nutrients. Include whole grains, legumes, seeds and vegetables at meals to support good elimination.  Occasionally someone may need additional support in order to encourage a healthy digestive process, so contact me for a consultation if this is a factor in your own health. Including sufficient water-intake each day is also a vital measure in preventing constipation.


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What is Your Body Trying to Tell You - Dehydration

More from Food Matters on 9 symptoms you shouldn’t ignore


You’re dehydrated…


One likely signal: Chapped lip


Background: Lips are a reflection of the health and hydration of the entire body. “If you are well hydrated, then your lips will be well hydrated,” says Elizabeth Lipski, PhD, clinical nutritionist and author of Digestive Wellness (McGraw-Hill, 2004). Less water in the body means less moisture for the skin– the body’s largest organ. The delicate tissue of the lips is extra sensitive to drought. “If you are constantly using lip balm or lip gloss to sooth chapped lips, it’s a sign you need to drink up,” says Lipski.



Other signals: Headaches, infrequent urination, dark yellow or smelly urine, dry skin, slow turgor (meaning that if you pinch the skin on the back of your hand, it doesn’t snap right back into place). Although the aging process slows turgor down somewhat, even in older adults it still should return to normal within a second or two.



How to respond: Drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day can be intimidating, says Swift, so if you’re not able to quaff that amount, you can still get hydrated by sipping herbal tea and working additional servings of vegetables into your daily diet. “The transition to a more whole-foods diet puts us on autopilot to get more water because they are naturally high in moisture,” says Swift. And, make sure to include whole foods that are rich in essential fatty acids, such as nuts and seeds, avocados, and anchovies and sardines, which help maintain healthy cell membranes and hold in moisture.



I recommend that client  drink at least 6 glasses of water a day.  Keeping water in a glass bottle in the fridge can help you keep track of how much you have drunk in a day. Having a glass of water on your desk or side-board can also remind you to take a sip throughout the day.  Drinking water may also help reduce unnecessary snacking. If you have a headache, the first thing to try is to sip a couple of glasses of water. From my experience, although headaches may be linked to business, travelling, concentration etc, those factors may also have prevented adequate water consumption, so a glass of water may  be what is needed.


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What is Your Body Trying to Tell You - Candida Overgrowth

More from Food Matters on 9 Symptoms you shouldn’t ignore:


You’ve got candida overgrowth…


One likely signal: Itchy ears, throat or mucus membranes



Background: The average American downs nearly 150 pounds of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup a year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. And if you’re eating anywhere near that much sugar, you may have more than just a sweet tooth — your body may be hosting an unhealthy overgrowth of Candida albicans. A small amount of this common, yeast like fungus living in the gut is OK when its numbers are kept in check by healthy flora. But when an intestinal imbalance allows it to run amok, it acts like kudzu, colonizing everything in its path. Among its favorite environs are the body’s warm, dark nooks and crannies, such as between the toes, under the breasts and, yes, in the ears. As it infiltrates, it irritates and inflames the skin, leading to the telltale signs of itching and redness.



Other signals: Mood swings, fatigue, weak immune system, weight gain, frequent yeast infections



How to respond: If you think you have candida overgrowth, the quickest fix is to starve them. Candida flourish in the presence of both refined and unrefined sugar, such as fresh fruit, dried fruit and fruit juice. Cutting off their food supply can bring their numbers back to a healthy level. They also love refined flour products and anything fermented, such as alcohol and soy, so if you have a serious overgrowth, you may need to cut out all of the above for a number of consecutive weeks.



Candida and gut ecology is something I frequently address with my clients. However, the idea of simply starving the Candida, as mentioned in the extract above, is not usually all that is needed. The protocol that I use to re-establish healthy gut ecology follows Erica White's four-Point-Plan, where not only diet, but supplements to boost the immune system, a supplement to encourage friendly bacteria and a supplement to deal with the yeast are also included. If one of these factors is missing, correct gut ecology is difficult to either achieve or maintain.  If you would like support in encouraging correct gut ecology, get in touch to book a consultation.


Erica White's Beat Candida Cookbook


Eirca White's Beat Candida Cookbook


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9 Symptoms you Shouldn't Ignore

Food matters have produced a helpful guide to 9 symptoms you shouldn’t ignore. As with any symptoms, you should get checked with your doctor and then seek specific nutritional advice, (see the contact page on my website). However, the nine points, which I will cover in the coming days, may help you in supporting the health of your family.



By Catherine Guthrie, Experience Life


The body is a magnificent machine. When things go awry, it generally doesn’t just shut down without warning, like an incandescent light bulb popping its filament. Instead it sends us little signals (think of them as gentle biological taps on the shoulder) letting us know that something is amiss.

“Physical signs and symptoms are ways your body tries to alert you to deeper imbalances,” says Elson M. Haas, MD, a San Rafael, Calif., physician with a natural-medicine approach and author of Staying Healthy with Nutrition (Celestial Arts, 2006). “Taking the time to decipher the body’s codes is always better than simply popping a pill and hoping the symptoms just go away. Ideally, we want to get to the causes of problems, not just suppress the end result of ill health.” But interpreting the body’s quirky Morse code requires a deep level of body awareness that, like any skill, takes time and practice to perfect. To that end, we recruited a handful of the country’s leading integrative health practitioners to help identify nine of the most common conditions underlying frequent, and sometimes mysterious, symptoms. Read on to clue into your body’s messages.



You’re drinking too much diet soda…

One likely signal: Headaches


Background: Artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame (found in Nutrasweet and Equal), can trigger headaches, even migraines. At highest risk are people with a genetic disorder called phenylketonuria (or PKU for short); they lack the enzyme needed to metabolize a substance (phenylalanine) that is created when the body breaks down aspartame. But even those without the genetic disorder may find that drinking diet soda results in brain fog or headache. Why? Animal studies have shown aspartame to be a potent neurotoxin, at least in young rats. I’m concerned about whether aspartame might cause nerve damage in humans, as well — or at least disrupt the nerve signaling that enables the brain to register satiety,” says Sharon Fowler, MPH, a faculty associate at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio who studies the health effects of artificial sweetener use. One of the prime suspects is the methanol in aspartame, which is broken down into formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. People who are sensitive to formaldehyde may experience headaches after ingesting aspartame.


Other signals: Intense cravings for sweet or salty foods, inability to focus, irritability


How to respond: When the urge for diet soda strikes, Kathie Swift, MS, RD, LDN, chief nutrition adviser for the online-based sites MyFoodMyHealth and My Foundation Diet, suggests drinking sparkling water flavored with a splash of 100 percent fruit juice and a squeeze of lime.


As many have experienced when following a diet to support optimum nutrition, in avoiding sugar and artificial sweeteners, the taste buds regain their ability to taste flavours in all foods.  One client just said to me this morning, “Now I can taste a sweetness in plain oat-cakes!”


For family members, a dash of fruit juice in a glass of sparkling water may provide an alternative to sodas, but I encourage clients to avoid juices and recommend just a slice of lemon for flavouring.  You will be amazed at how quickly you will get to appreciate this delicate flavour once sugar and artificial sweeteners are out of the diet.


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Vote on GM Crops


Click on the link below to vote on whether trials on GM crops should continue. Some of the comments following the vote are helpful in understanding the negative affects of GM crops.  In particular, the post from Elizabeth Winkler, a food journalist, is clear and succinct. 



I have been researching GM crops for over ten years as a food journalist, and the more I find out, the less I like.
Once a seed is genetically modified, it can be patented, and owned. That is why multinational seed companies such as Monsanto are investing so heavily in GM.
GM crops is a risky, unpredictable, outdated and unnecessary technology.
There is sufficient evidence to show it is an environmental risk, as well as a risk to animal and human health.
We should be using valuable money researching how to make existing sustainable systems more cost-effective and productive - not sinking money into a technology that benefits only the patent holder.

Click here to vote:  http://www.countryfile.com/poll/should-gm-crop-trials-be-allowed-go-ahead 


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Four weeks of fizzy drinks can give you heart disease

What Doctors Don't Tell You E-News reports on new reseach on fizzy drinks.

For those of you who regularly drink fizz and are feeling 'fine', take this as a timely warning...



Sweet fizzy colas and sports drinks could be lethal – even if you drink just two cans a week.  The drinks could be a direct cause of weight gain, heart disease, liver failure, high blood pressure and diabetes, a new study has discovered.

The effects happen in people who drink a can every day, or even just two cans a week. After a very short time – and often within a month – their metabolism  changes, making any of the life-threatening diseases more likely.

Although it’s not news that sugary drinks are bad for us, the extent of the damage they can cause, and over a very short time, has shocked researchers who tested the drinks on 11 healthy and lean volunteers

After just four weeks’ regular consumption, their whole metabolism had altered.  They had put on weight and their insulin resistance had increased, often a precursor of diabetes and heart disease.

(Source: European Journal of Nutrition, 2012; doi: 10.1007/s00394-012-0401-x).



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Don't Skip Breakfast

Time For Wellness reports on research showing the benefits of breakfast: 


You need to eat more to loose weight, at least that’s what studies linking skipping breakfast to weight gain suggest, and now you can add a lower risk of diabetes to your breakfast menu.


Although skipping breakfast has been linked to problems such as weight gain and reduced cognitive function in children few studies have explored the relationship to risk of type 2 diabetes.

In an analysis of the eating patterns of some 30,000 men over 16 years it was found that men who ate 3 times a day (breakfast eaters) had a lower risk of diabetes than men who only ate 1-2 times daily (1).


There is a rational reason why skipping your morning meal might increase your diabetes risk; a good breakfast tends to stabilise your blood sugar throughout the day (2).



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Which Oils and Fats to Use?

 There is much research continuing in the whole area of fats in the diet, but my current suggestions are:


Frying and Roasting: If you want to cook foods at high temperatures the most stable fats are the saturated fats, and recent research is showing virgin coconut oil to be the oil of choice. Look to buy organic, virgin coconut oil as cheaper 'pure' oils may be refined and heat treated, reducing any health benefits. Where there is no dairy allergy, butter may be used in cooking in small amounts, but don't make fried foods a regular part of the diet.


Steam frying: Olive oil may be used where temperatures do not get too high, so to prevent oxidation add a tablespoon of water if you are frying with olive oil. Adding a lid to the pan will prevent the water from evaporating and keep cooking temperatures low.  This method is useful when preparing onions, garlic and peppers etc before adding to a recipe, or for stir-frying.


Baking: Experiment with coconut oil in baking recipes, perhaps using some butter as well. Where baking temperatures are low olive oil may be used.  If baking/roasting meat or vegetables with olive oil, use low temperatures and adding some water or stock will help keep temperatures low, minimising oxidation.


Drinking: A 2006 study by Ellis et al, showed that organic milk contains more polyunsaturated fatty acids and essential fatty acids (especially omega 3) than conventional milk.  Although milk is not on the diet plan for most Nutritionhelp clients, those who eat yoghurt and cottage cheese may like to look out for organic varieties.  Likewise, those with families may like to favour organic milk for children.


Spreading: Butter is the natural, untreated fat, low in trans fatty acids, but this isn't suitable for those with a dairy allergy or with a lot of inflammation. For an alternative 'margarine' try mixing 2 parts virgin coconut oil to 2 parts extra virgin olive oil.  Keep refrigerated but it will spread straight from the fridge and is a good way of including the health benefits of both olive oil and coconut oil in the diet. If you find this ratio is too oily when making sandwiches etc in advance, try using 3 parts coconut oil to 1 part olive oil. Another type of 'spread' can be made by finely grinding seeds (eg sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, linseed), either individually or in combination, and then mixing with a very little water to obtain a spreading consistency.



Salad and vegetable dressings:Extra virgin olive oil has a reputation for benefiting heart health, and this is a great oil to use on jacket potatoes and in salad dressings. You may also like to experiment with other unrefined, cold pressed oils, but Flax seed oil is the only seed oil that includes substantial levels of omega 3, most other seed oils being higher in omega 6 fatty acids. A salad dressing useful for most Nutritionhelp clients is to mix two parts extra virgin olive oil with 1 part lemon juice. Add mixed herbs, black pepper, onion granules/powder, or a crushed clove of garlic to taste. This dressing can be used freely over cooked vegetables or salad. You may like to experiment with replacing some of the olive oil for flax seed oil or hemp seed oil (often sold as 'Good oil' in super markets)



Foods: Snack on raw seeds as a great source of nutrients and omega 6 oils. Avoid roasted seeds as heating may cause the delicate polyunsaturated fats in the seeds to oxidise. Include oily fish  regularly in the diet, omega 3 guidelines being met with 2 -4 portions a week. In order to minimise ingesting pollution avoid tuna and sword fish and favour the smaller oily fish, such as wild salmon, trout, sardines and pilchards.


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What are Trans Fats and Hydrogenation?


To help us understand what exactly trans fats are, and why they are unhelpful for health, Ban Trans Fats website has some very useful information.


The purpose of hydrogenation is to solidify an oil so that it can be made to resemble real foods such as butter. The hydrogenation process imparts desirable features such as spreadability, texture, "mouth feel," and increased shelf life to naturally liquid vegetable oils. In the hydrogenation process, vegetable oil is reacted under pressure with hydrogen gas at 250 - 400oF for several hours in the presence of a catalyst such as nickel or platinum. However, this industrial process cannot control where the hydrogen atoms are added to the "unsaturated" double bonds. Randomly adding hydrogen atoms to polyunsaturated fats converts natural food components into many compounds, some of which have never seen before by man until partially hydrogenated fats were manufactured.

Some of the several dozens of altered compounds created in the manufacture of partially-hydrogenated fats are "trans" fatty acids. Fatty acids are the building blocks of fats, much like amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Other new compounds accidentally synthesized include fatty acids having double bonds translocated to new and un-natural positions, and various molecular fragments. Many of these altered compounds are detrimental to health. 


It is the process of hydrogenation that makes vegetable oils take on the properties of saturated fats, in particular, being solid at room temperature. It was these trans 'saturated' fats that gave saturated fats a bad name.

Here are some of the differences between trans fat and saturated fat.


At first glance these molecules look similar, but a closer look at the middle sections shows that the trans fat is mimicking the saturated fat molecule - it is not idential. 


...In the illustration above, (now deleted) the light grey rounded areas are hydrogen atoms and the dark grey areas are carbon atoms. Note the different positioning of the hydrogen atoms in the middle which is caused by partial hydrogenation. The hydrogen atoms in the middle are in a "trans" position which makes this a "trans" fatty acid. The effect is to straighten out the molecules so they can pack together more closely and make the oil less liquid and more solid.


"The problem arises when a large number of the trans fatty acids are consumed from foods and they are deposited in those parts of the cell membranes that are supposed to have either saturated fatty acids or "cis" unsaturated fatty acids; under these circumstances the trans fatty acids essentially foul up the "machinery."


When we compare the biological effects of the trans fatty acids versus the saturated fatty acids, we see that


(1) saturated fatty acids raise HDL cholesterol, the so-called good cholesterol, whereas the trans fatty acids lower HDL cholesterol;


(2) saturated fatty acids lower the blood levels of the atherogenic lipoprotein [a], whereas trans fatty acids raise the blood levels of lipoprotein [a];


(3) saturated fatty acids conserve the good omega-3 fatty acids, whereas trans fatty acids cause the tissues to lose these omega-3 fatty acids;


(4) saturated fatty acids do not inhibit insulin binding, whereas trans fatty acids do inhibit insulin binding (see our page on diabetes);


(5) saturated fatty acids do not increase C-reactive protein, but trans fatty acids do increase C-reactive protein causing arterial inflammation;


(6) saturated fatty acids are the normal fatty acids made by the body, and they do not interfere with enzyme functions such as the delta-6-desaturase, whereas trans fatty acids are not made by the body, and they interfere with many enzyme functions such as delta-6-desaturase; and


(7) some saturated fatty acids are used by the body to fight viruses, bacteria, and protozoa, and they support the immune system, whereas trans fatty acids interfere with the function of the immune system.


I am not suggesting that we go over-board in consuming saturated fats. The diet needs to be balanced with plenty of vegetables and whole grains and quality sources of protein, but it is important to understand that the problems associated with saturated fats are primarily linked to the trans fats.


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Coconut Oil For Skin



There is much written about the benefits of  using coconut oil on the hair and skin. It is reputed to be a natural anti-ageing moisturiser as it may help protect skin from the aging effects of free radicals. Mercola writes:



 …physiologist and biochemist Ray Peat, Ph.D. considers coconut oil to be an antioxidant, due to its stability and resistance to oxidation and free radical formation. Plus, he feels it reduces our need for the antioxidant protection of vitamin E.



Like Dr. Peat, many experts believe coconut oil may help restore more youthful-looking skin. When coconut oil is absorbed into the skin and connective tissues, it helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by helping to keep connective tissues strong and supple.



Coconut oil will not only bring temporary benefits to the skin, but it will aid in restoring your skin’s youthful appearance. The coconut oil will aid in exfoliating the outer layer of dead skin cells, making the skin smoother. It also penetrates into the deeper layers of the skin to strengthen the underlying tissues.



Coconut oil may be used as a hair conditioner and is helpful for dandruff and scalp health. It may also help promote healthy hair growth, regenerating thinning hair. Coconut oil is very nourishing and so may be helpful for dry skin and may benefit skin conditions such as eczema. An interesting study by Verallo-Rowell et al. compared the effects of topical virgin olive oil and virgin coconut oil on people with atopic dermatitis. Both oils showed benefits, but in this case, virgin coconut oil was the clear winner.The image below shows an atopic dermatitis site before (A) and after (B) treatment with virgin coconut oil, where coconut oil was applied twice a day for four weeks. (NB, Gut ecology and allergies may also play a part in skin conditions, so a consultation with a Nutritional Therapist  may also be helpful)





Coconut oil is actually gentle enough to use as an eye make-up remover, and may help condition eye lashes. It really is a great ‘all-over’ cream, suitable for moisturising face, lips, hands and body. I decant some oil into a smaller tub to use cosmetically, keeping it separate from the oil I use in cooking. This also makes it a good product to take on holiday when decanted into a small unbreakable pot.


If you suffer with athletes foot, add a few drops of tea tree oil to a teaspoon of coconut oil and rub into the affected area a couple of times a day. Coconut oil may aid the healing of minor burns, but all heat must first have come out of the burn, so I suggest the oil is applied the following day in order to prevent trapping heat in the wound.

My next post will get back to considering other oils and margarines


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More on Coconut Oil

Dr Mercola continues to discuss the benefits of coconut oil compared to other fats. 



 ...the terms 'fats' and 'oils' are often used interchangeably. But fat is more correctly considered solid at room temperature, while oils are liquid. But what's really important is the structure.

The unique health benefits of coconut oil are directly related to its chemical structure, or more precisely, the length of its fatty acid chains.


Coconut oil is comprised of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), also called medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs.

Coconut oil is nature's richest source of these healthy MCFAs.

By contrast, most common vegetable or seed oils are comprised of long chain fatty acids (LCFAs), also known as long-chain triglycerides or LCTs. There are several reasons to explain why these long-chain fatty acids are not as healthy for you as the MCFAs in coconut oil.



Long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs)…

  • Are difficult for the body to break down – They must be packaged with lipoproteins or carrier proteins and require special enzymes for digestion.
  • Put more strain on the pancreas, the liver, and the entire digestive system. They can be deposited within arteries in lipid forms such as cholesterol.
  • Are predominantly stored in your body as fat. (That's why most people mistakenly buy into the myth that fats are automatically 'fattening'.)


On the other hand, the medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) in coconut oil are more health-promoting.

Medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) are…

  • Smaller and they permeate cell membranes easily, and do not require lipoproteins or special enzymes to be utilized effectively by your body.
  • Easily digested, thus putting less strain on your digestive system. This is especially important for those of you with digestive or metabolic concerns.
  • Sent directly to your liver, where they are immediately converted into energy rather than being stored as fat.

Plus, the MCFAs like those found in Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, can actually help stimulate your body's metabolism… helping you to better keep off the pounds.



You may recall how I mentioned that coconut oil has a super-special ingredient called lauric acid. And this medium-chain fatty acid is…

  • Unique and scarcely found in nature…
  • Considered to be a 'miracle ingredient' because of its unique health-promoting properties…
  • The same compound found in mother's milk that helps babies fight off free radicals…
  • Transformed into a substance called, monolaurin, the actual compound responsible for helping to support your immune system


Scientist really put lauric acid to the test with volumes of research on immune system function. What researchers found was that this medium-chain fatty acid derivative actually disrupts the lipid (or fatty) membranes of the offending organisms.

The lauric acid in coconut oil is one effortless way to help support your immune system.



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Coconut Oil for Cooking

Helpful comments from Dr Mercola on using Coconut oil as the best fat for cooking. Even as a saturated fat it has health benefits.



Prior to World War II, coconut oil was very popular for cooking and used as a delicious ingredient in numerous foods.

But the War interrupted the production of coconut oil with the Japanese occupation of many of the production areas in the South Pacific. Enter good old American know-how and coconut oil was replaced with polyunsaturated vegetable oils.

By the end of the 1950s, public opinion had turned totally against saturated fats like butter (and coconut oil). Saturated fats were falsely accused of raising cholesterol… and cholesterol was now viewed as the evil enemy…

Butter, eggs, and coconut oil were out… the new vegetable oils were in…



Coconut oil continued to be demonized by the vegetable oil industry throughout the ensuing decades. Adding insult to injury, the soybean industry began to condemn the use of tropical oils… particularly coconut oil.

Unfortunately, the tropical oil industry, centered in poorer nations like the Philippines and Indonesia, could not afford to keep up with the competition and counter the negative propaganda spread by rich American industrial conglomerates… conglomerates now making millions and millions of dollars.



Now that you have heard the history behind coconut oil's unfortunate fall from grace, you should also know today's good news… coconut oil is finally beginning to get the respect it deserves as a smart alternative to other oils.

The many benefits of coconut oil are finally reaching the mainstream simply because this extraordinary oil…

  • Promotes your heart health…
  • Aids you in managing your weight…
  • Supports your immune system health…
  • Promotes a healthy metabolism…
  • Gives you an energy boost…
  • Keeps your skin healthy and youthful-looking…
  • Supports proper functioning of your thyroid gland…





I must confess… if you take a look inside my pantry, you would find only two oils that I use in food preparation.

The first, extra-virgin olive oil, is a superior monounsaturated fat. It works great as a salad dressing. However, due to its chemical structure and susceptibility to oxidative damage, it's not the best oil to cook with.

Neither is it good to cook with polyunsaturated fats (common vegetable oils like corn, soy, safflower, sunflower, and canola)…

  • They are the absolute worst oils to use in cooking.
  • These omega-6 oils are highly susceptible to heat damage.

Why all the fuss and why should you get rid of vegetable oils? Here are my three top reasons…

  • Reason # 1 – Most people believe that frying creates trans-fats. That is not the major problem, in my opinion. Although some are created, they are relatively minor. There are far more toxic chemicals produced by frying omega-6 oils than trans-fats.
  • Frying destroys the antioxidants in oil and as a result oxidizes the oil. This causes cross-linking, cyclization, double-bond shifts, fragmentation and polymerization of oils that cause far more damage than trans-fats.

  • Reason # 2 – Most of the vegetable oils are genetically engineered. This includes over 90 percent of the soy, corn, and canola oils.
  • Reason # 3 – Vegetable oils contribute to the overabundance of damaged omega-6 fats in your diet, which creates an imbalance in the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3.

The second oil you'll find in my pantry is the only oil that is stable enough to resist heat-induced damage. And that's coconut oil. As I already outlined above, this extraordinary oil can… help promote your heart health… support cholesterol levels already in the normal range… and aid you in keeping off the pounds.

So, whenever you need an oil to cook with, use coconut oil instead of butter, olive oil, vegetable oil, margarine, or any other type of oil called for in recipes.

Even though I don't fully recommend frying foods, if you must fry, by all means use coconut oil… it's your smart choice.


More on coconut oil to come...


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Which Fats and Oils to Use

Over the years there has been mixed messages and much controversy  about which fats and oils we should be eating, spreading and cooking with.  Over the next few days I hope to publish some articles and comments that will help you to not only know which are the best oils to use, but understand the reasoning behind those choices.



First of all it is important to realise that we need fat in the diet, but it must be the right kind of fat in order to benefit health.  The role of fats are many and diverse; they are an important source of energy, they insulate the body’s organs, they provide and carry the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), they keep toxins out of circulation, they are involved in hormone production and they are important for cell membrane structure and function. A low fat diet therefore, can lead to a number of health issues.



There are three main types of fats, (these can then be further subdivided).



Saturated fat, found in animal fats but also coconut oil and palm oil.  These are solid at room temperature. In the chemical structure of saturated fat all the carbon molecules  are linked or ‘saturated’ with hydrogen, which means that this is the most stable fat for cooking.




Monounsaturated fat, found in olive oil, rapeseed oil, avocados, goose, duck and chicken fat, macadamia nuts, hazel nuts and pecans. These are liquid at room temperature but may solidify in the fridge. In the chemical structure of monounsaturated fat not all the carbon bonds are ‘saturated’ with hydrogen, so this is not so stable for cooking.  Use only at low temperatures and preferably ‘steam fry’ – adding a tablespoon of water with the oil and cooking with a lid, to keep the oil from getting too hot and oxidising.



Polyunsaturated fat, found in nuts and seeds and their oils.  These are liquid at room temperature.These oils should not be used in cooking as they may oxidise very easily and trans fats may be created.




Each of these fats can be beneficial to health if used in the correct way.  Tomorrow I will look further at the best type of fat for cooking.


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Intensive Dairy Farming

The Mail Online 21/7/12


Why milk has gone sour: Tasteless, stripped of nutrients and churned out by 'battery cows' who never see a blade of grass



...Today’s milk business is dominated by a handful of large supermarkets and processing dairies, all slugging it out for a share of the action. 

The farmers who survive the inevitable war of attrition are forced to squeeze more and more milk from their over-worked cows.

Even then they struggle to earn a living from the job, as yesterday’s gathering in Westminster of militant dairy farmers — who forced farming minister Jim Paice to admit he did not know the cost of a pint, and are now threatening to disrupt the Olympics — testifies.

No doubt classical economists view all this as a triumph of efficient food production. 

Milk is plentiful and cheap, with supermarkets frequently using it as a loss-leader in their battle for market share. Low-fat milk was on offer at just 32p a pint in Tesco this week.


Farmers are under more pressure than ever to squeeze more and more from their cows. 

Whether we consumers truly benefit from the dairy revolution is open to question. The nutritional quality of most supermarket milk wouldn’t hold a candle to the pinta delivered to our doorstep all those years ago.

Many dairy farmers, in their bid to drive down costs, now keep their cows off pasture, feeding them instead on high-energy cereals and maize, and on high-protein crops like soya.

Herds are getting bigger, and some farmers are choosing to keep them inside for much of the year or even all of it. US-style mega-dairies — in effect, battery-farmed cows — are now threatened for the British countryside.

'Farmers’ relentless drive for cost savings has put increasing pressure on the long-suffering dairy cow.'

Professor Ton Baars, a global expert on the health qualities of dairy foods, says milk produced this way contains lower levels of key disease-fighting nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and the anti-cancer substance CLA. 

From a health point of view, the best milk comes from cows grazing fresh pasture in which there are plenty of clover plants and deep-rooting herbs such as plantain, dandelion and chicory.

In fact, the very milk enjoyed by earlier generations before the arrival of supermarkets and the EU common agricultural policy.

Even the supposed benefits of low-fat milk are now being challenged.

A number of scientists claim it’s sugar and refined carbohydrates that are to blame for modern diseases like diabetes and heart disease, not saturated fat — especially when the fat is from natural sources such as cattle grazing clover-rich pasture.

They point out that even whole milk contains only four per cent fat, hardly making it a fatty food. 

And apart from calcium, many of the most valuable nutrients such as omega-3s, CLA and vitamin D are in the fat fraction most of us throw away.



Cows are being kept inside for most, or even all, of the year

She’s now forced to produce twice the volume of milk provided by her 1960s forbears, and it’s taking a heavy toll on her health, fertility and lifespan...


...With Britain’s hard-pressed dairy farmers on the streets demanding a better deal, there’s a clear need for a new vision for dairy farming.

Fortunately we have a perfect model from history — the epic story of a forgotten food hero of 90 years ago.

In the early 1920s, farm prices crashed following the mini-boom in agriculture that accompanied the First World War.

Dairy farms were particularly hard hit, with many going to the wall.

But an innovative farmer-inventor called Arthur Hosier came up with a revolutionary idea. 

He would keep his cows out in the fields permanently, so saving the heavy labour costs and disease risks associated with putting them in sheds for part of the year.

To make the system work, he designed a mobile milking platform through which cows could be milked in the field. 

It was equipped with generator, refrigeration plant and vacuum pipeline to take the milk direct from cow to churn without coming into contact with the air.

'There's a clear need for a new vision for diary farming'

Hosier’s friends thought he’d gone off his head when he bought a big stretch of Wiltshire downland and covered it with cows at a time when many dairy farmers were going bust.

But the intrepid pioneer went on to make his fortune by selling quality milk direct to the public. Because his costs were low — and there was no middleman — it remained affordable to most people, even in hard times.

Out in the open air, his cows stayed remarkably free of disease, including TB which was rife among dairy herds of the time. 

His milk was certified so pure by the county medical authority that a lot was sent direct to London hospitals for patients too sick to tolerate everyday milk.

So successful was the system that by the early 1930s several hundred farmers had adopted ‘open-air dairying’. 

But with the coming of the Milk Marketing Board in 1933 — which guaranteed a market for milk — farmers lost their entrepreneurial edge. Hosier was bought out by one of the big dairies, and his revolutionary system forgotten...


...In Dorset two young farmer-entrepreneurs — Tom Foot and Neil Griggs — have established a new outdoor herd producing pasture-fed milk. They’ve designed mobile milking units based on the principles of Hosier’s model.

In Somerset new farmer Nick Snelgar is developing a mobile milking-and-processing plant for use by small herds. 

His aim is to bring back local, grass-fed milk across Britain. He hopes it’ll also create new business opportunities for young people in rural areas.

Between the wars, hard times for milk producers heralded a new golden age for dairy farming. 

At the same time it put a wonderful, nutritious food on the doorsteps of austerity Britain.

If the tough times that brought protesting farmers to London have the same impact today, we’ll all be winners.

I, for one, can’t wait to experience once more the rich, creamy taste of real milk.

  • Graham Harvey is author of The Carbon Fields.

Read the whole article here


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Eating For Beauty

The British weather doesn't seem to be on our side at the moment in encouraging a radiant skin, so these tips published by Hungry for Change may help you support a glowing skin from the inside out.


Silicon: This mineral contains a number of hidden properties and has been toted the world’s greatest beauty secret. Silicon is present throughout our entire body and plays an important role in maintaining the elasticity of cell walls. Therefore is most important in preventing premature aging.
Found in unrefined grains, such as oatmeal and brwon rice, and root vegetables.
Sulfur: Sulfur has a significant impact on our complexion, hair and how our skin glows. Essentially it is within all of our connective tissue supporting and connecting all of our organs. It has the ability to continuously build and rebuild collagen and keratin which is important for hair, skin and nails to get their shine whilst also playing an important role in driving nutrients into and out of cells, blood sugar regulation, tissue repair and our immune system.
Found primarily in cruciferous vegetables such as Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale.
Zinc: Zinc promotes cell division, cell repair, cell growth and the production of white blood cells. This mineral is essential for cleansing the liver, repairing tissue and oxygenating the body. A zinc deficiency is directly linked to Acne, hair loss and other skin disorders.
Zinc may be found in shell fish, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Beauty foods are foods that contain high concentrations of the minerals sulfur, silicon, zinc, iron and/or magnesium. Thefollowing foods will have an alkalizing reaction with your body, anti-parasitical effects and contain high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

In the list below you can see some of the top ‘beautifying foods’ recommended by David Wolfe his book ‘Eating For Beauty:
Aloe Vera – Believed to be a food of long-lasting youth and rapid healing. The anti-inflammatory power in acute inflammation is one of it’s best known actions. The gel of the Aloe Vera can be used topically or add to your daily juice.

Coconut Oil – Contains a number of health giving properties including being high in antioxidants, control blood sugar levels, assist the thyroid gland and repair the skin. You can eat it straight, blend into smoothies, use in cooking and on the skin.
Cucumbers – Fantastic for cleansing our bodies. The skins of cucumbers are high in silicon although are often grown with pesticides and waxed in stores so it is best to choose organic.
Figs – Super high in calcium and other minerals. They are also contain large amounts of fiber and therefore beneficial for our digestive system. They have been described as being the most alkalizing if all dried fruits.
Hemp Seed – One of the most nutritionally complete foods containing all nine essential amino acids making them exceptionally high in protein whilst also high in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and minerals. Eat them as a snack, add to a salad or use the hemp oil in your smoothie.
Macadamia Nuts – Contain high levels of selenium needed to build the body’s most powerful enzyme. The macadamia nut’s overall combination of fatty acids and zinc makes it wonderful skin beautifier.
Pumpkin Seeds – A wonderful source of B vitamins, many minerals (including zinc), phytonutrients and fatty oils. All of these contributing to their ability to produce clear and glowing skin. They also have anti-parasite properties.
Turmeric – Considered a restorative food, with strong anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer and anti-microbial characteristics. Well known for its ability to purify blood which is essential for clear skin.
Source: Eating For Beauty by David Wolfe - For the complete description of these beautifying foods and to see the rest of the list have a read of David Wolfe’s book ‘Eating For Beauty’. 



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