• Health

    Worried about Covid-19? How can you help yourself?

    Healing your immune system

    We can all agree that 2020 has not been an easy year. Initially we were all scared, and rightly so! This virus was not known to us and we were told that none of us had any immunity to it. Within a short time we realised that it didn’t react like the flu, it was much more dangerous to older people than young, fatter people rather than thin and people with darker skin. Obviously any chronic health problems could put you at higher risk, especially respiratory or/and heart problems and diabetes. We have all been told this repeatedly and been given lots of advice with various patronising slogans along the way. At present it is Hands/Face/Space – least I think it is, it has changed many times and will likely do so again soon.

    None of this has given confidence or been self empowering so I want to give you various gems of information that have been researched and tested as having beneficial effect on our immune systems and even quite specific effect against viruses.

    This is not to replace the advice of your Doctor. If you are ill and start to feel worse after a few days, or have trouble breathing then definitely call for help. The suggestions given here might prevent you getting to that stage even if you do come into contact with or get Covid- 19.

    All the advice to stay healthy normally should be reinforced.

    Get outside in nature as much as possible – fresh air is important.

    Keep connected to friends and relatives as much as possible. We all need connection and where connection to people is difficult, pets become more important and can be very beneficial.

    Get plenty of sleep and relaxation.

    Laugh! So important. Watch less of the News or stressful programs and search out comedy and music.

    Now my obsession! EAT REAL FOOD.

    Nothing helps your health more than eating nutritious food. We are what we eat. Focus on fresh, organic if possible, vegetables and Fish and meat and go easy on cakes, biscuits and high sugar foods.
    Sugar is not needed by our bodies and contains no nutrients. We cannot deny that it tastes good and we can get addicted but when you feel the need for something sweet you can make healthier choices – fresh fruit, dried fruit like raisins, apricots, Dates ( my favourite treat is dark chocolate in a date), honey, maple syrup, banana etc. The use of cinnamon with sweet treats can lessen the effect on your blood sugar so is good to add to cooking and baking. Sugar is better managed in the body when eaten with protein/fat so apple and cheese, nuts and raisins are good choices.

    Very colourful fruit and vegetables are high in antioxidants that protect our bodies cells. Berries are especially good – blueberries, raspberries, black currants, blackberries, strawberries. Apples, although not especially colourful have protective properties, hence the old saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away).

    Often overlooked herbs and spices have many protective properties and can substantially improve our diet. Thyme is anti-viral, garlic, ginger, Turmeric, black pepper, chilli, coriander, parsley, basil and rosemary all important to include in your diet.

    Supplements

    So paying attention to improving your diet is the foundation of improving your health and immune system but there are supplements that can have a much more specific effect against viruses and may protect us from getting infected when exposed.
    I would suggest taking Vitamin D3 (preferably with K2) as several studies have shown that patients that became seriously ill all had very low levels of Vitamin D. If you are an outdoors person who gets lots of sun then 4,000 iu a day should be sufficient, if not then I would start at 10,000 iu a day, especially if in the northern hemisphere and going into winter.
    Zinc is mineral that we all need and can be quickly used up when battling illness therefore people with chronic disease are often low in zinc and this can manifest as loss of sense of smell and taste. Eat plenty of nuts or take a supplement.
    Another precaution you can take is to make sure you are not anaemic. Anaemia is much more common in women. The signs and symptoms are fatigue, loss of energy, shortness of breath on exercise, pale lips and gums, pale skin and nail beds but these symptoms don’t occur until you are quite short on iron. If you are concerned get a blood test. Eat some liver and plenty of dark greens and make sure you have some vitamin C as well, which helps absorption of iron. Vitamin C is in fresh citrus fruit, berries, kiwi fruits etc. If you are anaemic and get Covid-19 you would have trouble getting enough oxygen to the cells more than someone who was not.

    Defence.

    There are some precautions that I have always used when flying or on long train journeys. Tea tree cream is active against many bacteria and viruses and a very small amount put just inside your nose is a first line of defence. In the same way zinc lozenges to such can protect the throat and also strengthen immune system. Hand sanitiser is important and the best non toxic one is Natrasan. This contains hypochlorous and is ph balanced, doesn’t contain alcohol so doesn’t dry and damage your natural skin protection.

    If you feel you may/have been exposed to a virus then there are two natural oils that might help protect you, Oil of Oregano and Black Seed oil. For many years I have taken Oil of Oregano when exposed to colds and flu but in recent times I have found Black Seed oil to be highly effective. Both oils can be taken in capsule form as they have a very strong taste that not everyone can tolerate.

    Amazing Black Seed Oil.

    Black Seed oil comes from the seeds of the flower Nigella sativa and has been used for hundreds of years. One of the key ingredients is Thymoquinine which has the ability to modulate or inhibit high levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines – and probably everyone has heard that one of the major problems with Covid-19 is that very ill patients can be made critical by a Cytokine Storm – where the body over-reacts and these cytokines cause a lot of damage to tissues of the body. As well as this action Black Seed oil has anti-oxidant, analgesic and antihistamine properties and is also protects nerves, kidney function and circulation. A dose of 500mgs twice a day for up to 4 weeks has been proven safe for adults. Half that dose for children and the oil can be rubbed into the soles of the feet rather than swallowed.
    I put this to the test a couple of weeks ago when a Granddaughter came for a sleepover with a severe head cold and chesty cough. I gave her one capsule each of the two days and my son and I took a weeks course. Despite me even sleeping in the same room and lots of cuddles – we didn’t catch it.

    Finally.

    So I hope this helps, it is always good to feel empowered by extra knowledge and take some responsibility for your own health.
    Although I have written this mainly as preventative advice all the above would help anyone who has had Covid-19 and is having trouble recovering. Many people suffer with fatigue and lasting symptoms that could be helped by these measures.

    Hopefully, in many Countries, we are actually past the main Pandemic and the increasing numbers of ‘cases’ are due to the normal Cyclical nature of virus infections, many more tests being carried out and also a high percentage of false positive results. If you would like to know more about this then take a look at this YouTube video. Link

  • Health/ Healthy Food/ Inflammation/ Nutritional Medicine

    OMEGA-3’s and our Health

    OMEGA-3 fatty acids play a vital role in our health. They are essential, hence the term EFA = Essential Fatty Acid and the body does not produce them, we must get them from food or supplements.

    We need three basic types of fatty acids and these need to be balanced in the body for good health. These are Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9 but over the last 40+ years our diet, much higher in Omega-6 due to increased consumption of highly processed vegetable oils and processed foods in the developed world, has changed and this balance has been lost.

    Omega-3 fatty acids comprise of:

    ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) comes from plants and is found in foods like flax seeds, chia and walnuts and these are very beneficial to the health of hair and nails. The body can convert ALA to the other forms but inefficiently at about 15%.

    EPA ( epicosapentaeoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) which are found in fish, fish oils and krill oils but are originally synthesised by micro-algae not by the fish. When fish consume phytoplankton that consumed micro-algae they accumulate Omega-3 in their tissues. Human Breast milk contains all 3 Omega-3 fatty acids.

    The benefits of Omega-3 are anti-inflammatory; they are important for all cell membranes, energy, mood, Cardiovascular, pulmonary, immune and endocrine health. DHA is particularly high in brain tissue, the Retina of the eye and in sperm.

    Omega-6 when deficient causes impaired growth, hormone disturbances and immune system abnormalities but when in excess causes inflammation and cancer. The ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 is generally advised to be approximately 2:1 to 4:1 but in the Western Diet the Omega-6 ratio has risen to approximately 20:1 and we know from studies that this has lead to an increase in Cardiovascular Disease, arthritis and cancer.

    The best sources of Omega-3’s

    Omega-3 from fish
    Fish

    FISH: Salmon, Herring, Mackerel, Anchovies, Oysters, Sardines, Tuna and trout.

    VEGETARIAN sources of Omega-3’s:  Algae (high in EPA & DHA), Algae oil supplements, walnuts, flaxseeds, Brussel Sprouts, Kale, Spinach and Parsley.

    If you do not eat fish 2-3 times a week you are unlikely to get enough Omega-3’s and therefore a Fish oil supplement or an Omega-3 Supplement from Algae would be beneficial.

    A typical Fish oil supplement of 1,000mgs contains approximately 180mgs EPA and 120mgs DHA but it can vary a lot. it also has to be screened and any heavy metal toxins removed.

    Krill oil contains higher bioavailabilty than fish oil but there are questions over whether the fishing for Krill is damaging to the ocean ecosystem.

    Algae on the other hand, can be cultivated in pure water and contains more DHA than standard fish oil. It is suitable for Vegetarians, people with fish allergies and does not damage the environment.

    References/studies

    National Institutes of Health Omega-3 fatty acids

    Brain, eyes/Retina – PubMed ncbi-nlm-nih.gov

    Omega-3’s and depression – ncbi-nlm-nih.gov

    Omega-3’s can reduce levels of Triglycerides – nih.gov

    Omega-3’s may help relieve symptoms of RA – nih.gov

  • Adrenal Fatigue/ Autoimmune diseases/ Blood sugar management/ Exclusion diet/ Health/ hormones/ Hyperthyroidism/ Hypothyroidism

    Thyroid disruption and modern diet/lifestyle influence

    Thyroid Hormones

    A while ago I wrote an article about why I thought we needed to look at the treatment of low Thyroid  (Hypothyroidism and especially Hashimoto’s) in a more holistic way. Today I would like to discuss why we have an Hypothyroid epidemic that is also treated inadequately by mainstream medicine. Modern Lifestyle has created the perfect storm – stress, low fat, high carb diet and disrupted Thyroid/hormones. Nutrition and lifestyle changes can have a great effect, as I have proved by my own, so read on to find out…..

    The Functional Medicine approach of  an understanding of the root cause and lifestyle choices can lead to better outcomes with or without hormone replacement.

    I remember being taught that the Pituitary was the conductor of the endocrine orchestra… many years ago but analogies often stick in the mind. This basically illustrates that all the hormones in the body when healthy, work together  in a balanced and synchronised way and if one instrument was to play the wrong notes then the whole production would be discordant.

    Now let’s look one of the most common chronic problems – FATIGUE. Not just feeling tired because you have been over-working, over-exercising or ill but a chronic fatigue that means you never really have much energy, you might even wake up feeling tired and you mostly feel lack-lustre with no get-up-and-go and no incentive to do anything. You go to the Doctor and after some blood tests you are told you have low Thyroid function and they may suggest that you need to take Thyroxine – for the rest of your life.

    The Thyroid Gland

    The Thyroid Gland in your neck, controlled by a hormone from the Pituitary called TSH, produces hormones T3 and T4 that regulate your metabolism and that doesn’t just mean how many calories you burn and whether or not you put on weight – it means that the thyroid hormones regulate the way every cell in the body functions. Just to list some of the functions that are affected:

    • Heart Rate
    • Breathing
    • The Brain and Nervous System
    • Body Temperature
    • Muscle Strength
    • Menstrual Cycles
    • Blood sugar
    • Cholesterol levels

    Therefore when the Thyroid Gland is producing either too many hormones or too few the symptoms in the body can be very diverse and affect the quality of life.  Sometimes this prevents someone going to their Doctor because they feel they will be perceived as a hypochondriac and they are not sure how to describe the feeling they have “not being quite in control” or “out of sync” – which is exactly what, in fact is happening with imbalance in the whole endocrine system.

    Let’s revisit that Orchestra….. one musician is playing off key, so what are the choices? Remove them, replace them or find out why and try to correct the problem. Exactly the same in medicine. The Doctor might remove the Thyroid Gland (either by surgery or with Radiation), or the most common scenario is to replace the missing hormones with just artificial T4 (which frequently turns out to be an inferior player!) or, as in the Functional Medicine approach, investigate why it is out of balance and try to correct the problem.This can be complicated and time consuming because you have to look at all the hormone systems and how they regulate each other. It could cost a lot of time and money and a specialist to interpret all the results and we are really only just beginning to understand how things work on a cellular level.

    NB. frequently Hypothyroidism is preceded by a period of Hyperthyroid type symptoms. Hyperactivity, anxiety, poor sleep and stress because the body is pumping out lots of TSH from the Pituitary to try to get the Thyroid to work harder. If, at this stage you are treated aggressively for Hyperthyroidism then you will end up in an even worse situation, possibly even without a Thyroid Gland.

    The Nutritional Approach

    I like to take a different approach. I start with what we know –

    • Thyroid imbalance sometimes has an Autoimmune cause with anti-bodies present in the blood. Ask your Doctor to do this test.
    • There is often a history of chronic stress, sugar/caffeine cravings with resulting high Cortisol. Thyroid hormones help eliminate excess Cortisol but if the hormone Pregnenolone is low the body will be using too much thyroid hormone and the body may be struggling to produce more. See the OAT axis mentioned in the Medical advice section.
    • or a history of years of yo-yo low fat dieting, metabolic syndrome or Diabetes.
    • there may be a history of hormonal disruption, menstruation problems, fertility problems, Birth control hormones or HRT, oestrogen dominance symptoms. Oestogen can prevent the conversion of T4 to its active form of T3 in the body. All connected in the OAT axis.
    • look for clusters of symptoms – there are over 300 connected to Thyroid dysfunction but it is important to see beyond the symptoms and be aware of underlying nutritional deficiencies.
    • A Leaky Gut or poor gut microbiome may have caused or added to the problem – especially if thyroid antibodies have been found.
    • Coeliac Disease or a Gluten or Lactose intolerance could have caused nutritional deficiencies
    • or there may be deficiencies due to a restricted diet. Selenium, zinc and iodine are essential for the production and utilisation of Thyroid hormones.
    • There may be an underlying infection. Epstein Barr Virus has been implicated recently and this could also account for some of the more advanced symptoms such as tingling of the hands and feet, itchy skin, irregular heart rhythm and nodules in the Thyroid gland. There may be a history of infection such as Glandular Fever or ‘Mono’, Herpes virus, Shingles etc. These are viruses that can lay dormant for years but activating the immune system and it is believed that the percentage of people now carrying these viruses is extremely high.

    What can we do to correct the imbalances.

    1. Start with your diet. A Paleo Approach diet that includes plenty of leafy vegetables, Berries, healthy fats and enough quality (organic if possible) protein. Eliminate gluten, Dairy and Soy plus any other food you appear to react to. Good substitutes for Dairy exist in Coconut milk/yogurt products or Almond Milk but initially it is best to avoid all processed Gluten Free products to reduce inflammation as much as possible. Change to using Celtic Sea Salt as this contains iodine which is essential for Thyroid hormone production. Ordinary table salt is just sodium chloride, chemicals and some added iodine whereas Celtic Sea salt is natural, sun dried salt and has other important minerals including magnesium, manganese iron and zinc. Selenium is another mineral that is required by the thyroid and is often deficient in the soil and diet in many countries so it is well worth adding about 200mcg a day. Selenium works well with adequate levels of Vitamin D3 and therefore it is best to get levels checked and to take 4,000 – 5,000 iu per day during the winter.
    2. Reduce sugar in all its forms and do not use artificial sweeteners. It is very important to balance your blood sugar therefore make sure you have protein and healthy fat at each meal – this is NOT a calorie controlled diet, if you eat enough of the healthy proteins and fats you will not feel hungry but you will still lose weight because your body will adapt to burning fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. Restricting Calories can lead to even more stress on the Adrenals and make losing weight harder. It can take a little while to adapt to this ‘keto’ diet and initially you may get some symptoms of detox which is because lots of toxins are stored in body fat and when you start to burn that fat you will start to eliminate those toxins. Drink plenty of water or coconut water (unsweetened) and add 2-3g of vitamin C if you get constipated. Warm Epson Salts baths may help as well so that all the detox pathways – skin, kidneys and bowels are working well. The liver will also have to work hard at first so be kind to it – start the day with warm water and fresh lemon juice and avoid alcohol until you are feeling much better.
    3. Healing the gut and reducing inflammation are very important and I have many articles (and an e-book) on how this is achieved and supplements that can speed the progress so I won’t cover it again here.
    4. Reduce Stress – examine your lifestyle/commitments and work out ways to reduce the stress. Yoga or Pilates can work wonders if practised at least every other day and there are some brilliant, free video courses on YouTube. this is my favourite teacher Yoga with Adriene

      She has a brilliant one for neck and shoulder relief and this is where so many of us hold our stress and tension.

    5. After 2-4 weeks I would suggest trying some adaptogenic herbs – these help to balance your hormones, can help with relaxation and sleep. They have been used for hundreds of years in Ayurvedic Medicine but research which sound best for you and whether they are safe to take with any pre-existing condition, pregnancy or breast feeding. Ashwaganda and/or Licorice root are good but try one at a time to see if they suit you.
    6. Then we can add some foods and supplements that can help reduce your viral load – if that is possibly a problem for you. I would start by gradually increasing the coconut oil/cream in your diet. Use Virgin Coconut oil in cooking or as a spread with nut butter and maybe add some MCT oil to your coffee in the morning. if you add too much too quickly you will give yourself stomach cramps and possibly diarrhoea. The beneficial fat in coconut oil is Lauric Acid which can be converted to the active ingredient Monolaurin in the body or for a stronger effect you can buy Monolaurin as a dietary supplement. Other supplements that can kill EBV are Lemon Balm, L-Lysine an amino acid, Olive leaf, Black seed oil or Scutellaria (the herb Skullcap). These may be natural remedies but they are strong and it is important to follow the dosing advice if self treating.

    My Personal experience…

    If you suspect that your Thyroid is not performing as it should you could take your morning temperature before you get out of bed.(This is called your Basal body temperature and will likely be low if you have low Thyroid function.) My worst symptoms were hair loss, tingling of hands and feet and poor sleep.

    • My Basal Temperature was about 34.2C when I first took it in July of 2017. My pulse 48 and irregular (sinus Bradycardia)and my blood pressure always low. Normal basal temperature would be 36.1 – 37C & a normal pulse is about 60 -72 beats per minute.
    • I started taking Selenium at this time because as I was already following a healthy Paleo diet, gluten, soy and dairy free,eating organic veg and taking additional minerals this was one mineral I knew I could be short of living in the UK.
    • I started taking Methyl B complex vitamins as they are better absorbed.
    • After just 2 weeks my Basal temperature had already risen to between 35C – 36C
    • I then tried adding a Tyrosine capsule a day but this gave me a headache and a discomfort in my throat – it is not recommended that people with auto-immune Thyroid (Hashimotos Hypothyroid) use this as it can trigger a bigger immune response. I stopped this on day 7 but noticed that my metabolism was up, I was actually feeling warm and the tingling in my hands and feet was much better.
    • After a few days I started taking Ashwaganda. This according to Ayurvedic medicine is best taken with milk (coconut or almond for me)and honey prior to bed.
    • I then thought I would try a protocol that would reduce any EBV activity. I have a strong history of Shingles x 3 with the first severe infection when I was 12 and a severe Glandular Fever aged 18 that left me with post viral fatigue for several months. I vary what I take to give maximum effect. L-Lysine first and I actually got herpes pain over the area of my back that had been affected and just a couple of blisters appeared! I then tried Black seed oil for 3 weeks and I started to feel much better. Everything improved except my sleep which was erratic – having some great nights followed by a few of not being able to get to sleep until 3 or 4 am.

    Now, January 2018, my Basal Temperature is 36.1C and my pulse 60 and regular. My blood pressure has remained similar 120/60. I bought Thyroid Healing by The Medical Medium because although not a medical man he has a great knowledge of healing with diet. I added freeze dried wild blueberries, celery, apple and papaya to my diet. Previously I had concentrated on raspberries, blueberries and strawberries but in the Winter in the UK these are imported and not tasty whereas freeze dried wild blueberries are more nutritious and there is no waste.

    What next for me? 

    Continue on my improved diet, continue to take supplements as needed. This year I am going to keep up my Yoga practice, spend more time in Nature and have the whole of February Free of social media if you want to join me #freefromFeb is the hashtag! Just need to improve my sleep so will give my brain a detox.

    Conclusion

    In six months I have managed to improve my Thyroid function to near normal limits and avoided prescription medication. I have no symptoms of parasthesia in my hands or feet and they are actually warmer than they have been in years! My sleep is still not right so I have just started taking Scutellaria baicalensis (Chinese Skullcap) following an excellent webinar from Metabolic Healing on Thyroid management. This herb has many therapeutic benefits and references can be found here

    and even more science here 

    Described as the most powerful antioxidant owing to its 5 compounds and strong anti-inflammatory actions, ease of crossing the blood-brain-barrier and it has neuroprotective properties.

    It should not be taken by people on statins, diabetes medication or anticoagulants. It is not recommended for anyone with oestrogen sensitive conditions and  there is insufficient evidence to say if it is safe in pregnancy or breastfeeding.

    Medical Advice

    I am not giving medical advice here and in the first instance you should always see a doctor to get blood tests and rule out any other disease or problem. I did this and I would encourage everyone to do the same but the reality in the UK and in mainstream medicine generally seems to be that you normally only get tested for TSH and T4 and that the ‘normal’ range for these appears to be too high in relation to what is actually being observed as signs and symptoms. You could ask that your adrenal function and oestrogen and progesterone are tested as well as the Thyroid anti-bodies test. Peri-menopause can give many of the same signs and symptoms or a Hysterectomy may have prompted problems.

    Doctors not trained in Functional Medicine do not usually look at the OAT Axis for imbalance between the Ovarian-Adrenal-Thyroid hormones and at how a low fat, high sugar /carbohydrate diet and chronic stress can impact the body. This is what the information above is able to address.

    Most of us would rather avoid surgery, radiation treatment or a lifetime of taking prescription medicines, either natural or artificial hormones. If you can get the help of a Functional Medicine Practitioner then great or an Ayurvedic practitioner but whatever you do you will need to document your symptoms and take responsibility for your health. We live in an age where chronic conditions – that cannot be cured with a prescription- are increasing at an alarming rate but it has been proved that nutrition and lifestyle can give you your quality of life back.

     

     

     

     

  • Health/ Healthy Food/ Nutritional Medicine

    Warming Winter Soup in 20 mins.

    Warming Winter Soup

    At this busy time of year there is nothing better than a bowl of warming Winter Soup. Here is a recipe for one of my favourites. It is a healthy mix of vegetables that increase circulation, boost the Thyroid and help the body to detox – like a bowl of sunshine!

    CARROT, APPLE & GINGER SOUP

    4-5 carrots peeled and chopped

    1-3 apples cored and chopped

    thumb sized piece of raw ginger, peeled and chopped

    2 celery stalks chopped

    Add all to a large pan with a tablespoon of coconut oil and simmer for 5 mins. Add at least a pint of hot chicken stock and simmer for 10 mins. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Blitz  and serve. I like it with gluten free seeded toast. 🤗

    For more ideas check out my other posts

    Nutritious Comfort Food for Winter

    Lunchtime Low Carb High Healthy Fats Treat

    and Fabulous Easy Salads

    Enjoy!

  • Easy Salads/ Health/ Healthy Food/ Immune System/ LCHF diet

    Nutritious Comfort Food for Winter

    Nutritious Winter Food

    Quick and easy nutritious comfort food for Winter that is also cheap!

    Even in Winter I like to eat salad and this one is super tasty and gives plenty of healthy fats and nutrients to boost immune system.

    SARDINE HOT SQUASH SALAD

    Nutritious comfort Food for Winter

    Ingredients are

    • crunchy lettuce plus fresh herb leaves
    • cucumber
    • mini tomatoes
    • avocado
    • optional celery or fennel
    • tinned sardines in olive oil
    • roasted squash or pumpkin still hot and scooped out with ice- cream scoop just before serving
    • sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds or pine nuts
    • dress with Virgin Olive oil or avocado oil

    Stuffed Mushrooms

    I love mushrooms for boosting the immune system so here is a lovely supper treat

    Nutritious comfort food for winter

    Make the filling by frying these chopped ingredients

    • tomato
    • red pepper
    • onion
    • Pancetta  or streaky bacon
    • plus the chopped stems from the large flat mushrooms

    Fill the mushrooms. top with torn Basil leaves and soft cheese or a coconut cream cheese alternative. Bake in oven 200C for about 15-20 mins. You can also pierce some extra tomatoes and roast them in the same pan.

    I love these served with some cooked Romanesco – if you have never tried it give it a go. It is similar to cauliflower but with a firmer texture and more nutty flavour. My son, who has never liked cauliflower, loves this.

    nutrious comfort food for winter

    Slow- Cooker Hot Pot

    A Winter Staple that makes life easy.  I just add cheap cuts of meat (preferably on the bone) and whatever vegetables I have plus some good organic stock and leave it to cook for at least 4 hours. Normally one pot full will last us for two days – so I get to have a day off from cooking 🙂

    This one was lamb shank with carrots, parsnip, courgette and potatoes plus Rosemary and Bay leaves.

    Get creative and add spices, herbs, or fruit – apricots with lamb and Moroccan spice or chicken with preserved lemons…..my favourites!

  • Gluten Free/ Health/ LCHF diet/ Wheat and Dairy Intolerance

    My Quick Gluten & Dairy free Pizza

    My Quick Gluten & Dairy free Pizza

    Would you love a fresh, tasty and super-quick supper? Then here is my quick Gluten & Dairy free Pizza that you can be eating quicker than a Take-Away! Approx. 20 minutes!

    Ingredients

    One gluten free Wrap per person

    Onion – chopped

    Red Pepper – small slices

    Mushrooms – sliced

    Herbs – such as oregano, Italian seasoning or Herbs de Provence

    Fresh tomato – sliced or chopped tinned tomato drained well

    Vegan Cheeses both creamy and original solid (I used ‘violife’)

    any quick cook protein – smokey bacon, pepperoni, ham, prawns, tinned tuna etc.

    Fresh Basil leaves if available

    Method

    Pre-heat Oven to 200C or preheat grill to 190C.

    Lightly grease an oven tray or grill pan. Place the wraps in position. They only take a few minutes to cook therefore put the onion, pepper and  mushrooms into a pan with a little oil and cook until soft – approx 5 minutes. Sprinkle with herbs and season, then spread evenly onto wraps.

    My Quick Gluten & Dairy free Pizza

    Top with the creamy vegan cheese – this gives a good richness and texture similar to mozzarella.

    My Quick Gluten & Dairy Free Pizza

    Then top with tomatoes, chosen protein, grated vegan cheese and torn Basil.

    Cook for 8-10 minutes until cheese is melting and protein cooked through. I personally don’t mind if the tomatoes are only lightly cooked as it as another texture to the meal. If you like them more cooked than in the photo then slice them very thinly or use well-drained tinned ones or Passata but you don’t want to burn the base.

    Serve with a side salad or coleslaw.

    My Quick Gluten & Dairy Free Pizza

    Enjoy!

     

  • Autoimmune diseases/ Celiac/ Health/ Hypothyroidism/ Immune System

    Why I think Hashimoto’s needs a different approach.

    Fatigue

    This post is about my recent experience and why I think Hashimoto’s needs a different approach.

    What is Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism

    Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism is an Autoimmune disease where your body gradually destroys your thyroid gland leaving you with multiple symptoms such as

    • Loss of outer eyebrow hair and increased loss of hair on head and body
    • slow heartbeat
    • discomfort in throat
    • muscle aches and cramps
    • weakness
    • arthritis
    • cold intolerance
    • dry skin and hair
    • lethargy / fatigue
    • sleep disturbance
    • brittle nails
    • memory loss/poor concentration
    • weight gain
    • tingling or parasthesia in hands / feet

    Each individual will have any number of these symptoms and they can vary with the level of thyroid deficiency and the length of time the body has been deprived of the right amount of hormone.

    There are other causes of Hypothyroidism such as cancer surgery, radioactive iodine treatment of hyperthyroidism, heavy metal poisoning and more rarely a problem with the Pituitary gland that is not producing enough TSH – thyroid stimulating hormone.

    Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism is by far the most common (90-95%) and that is what I am focusing on today.

    Treatment Options

    Normal medical treatment has always focused on replenishing the body with thyroid hormone – either in the form of a synthetic T4 drug or desiccated thyroid tissue taken from pigs or cows. In the case of a surgically removed thyroid or one that has been destroyed by radiation then this may be the only option.

    With Hashimoto’s I feel it is important to take a Functional Medicine approach to find and treat the root cause which is an Autoimmune reaction and to support the thyroid with the nutrition it needs for optimal function. There is frequently an underlying Adrenal imbalance as well and patients often say that they have had extreme stress previous to symptoms, or ongoing. There may also be a history of Epstein Barr infection or other herpes infections, all of which can affect the immune system long-term.

    It is very important to look at the medical history as the Thyroid may have been under attack for quite some time before multiple symptoms appear and a diagnosis sort. It is also possible that other Autoimmune problems are present, especially Coeliac disease or Gluten intolerance. This could mean that the digestive tract is damaged, already reacting to foreign proteins and not absorbing all the nutrients we need.

    Hashimoto’s is not something that I think you should try and treat yourself and it should be monitored with appropriate blood tests but there are certain actions that you can take yourself that can help balance your system, boost your health and at the same time help your Doctor see the overall picture of the effects of the disease and the treatment.

    If you think you may have Hashimoto’s rather than any other cause of fatigue then the first thing you could do is set up a chart to record your Basal Temperature. This is the temperature that you body falls to at night when you are sleeping. Have a thermometer by your bed and as soon as you wake take your temperature, in your armpit. Make sure that it is right in your armpit and leave it for 2-5 mins to get an accurate reading. If you have low thyroid function then it is likely to be several points lower than the normal range of 36.4C -36.7C . Do this for at least a week so that you have a record to show your doctor and you can also carry on to show any reaction to treatment.

    My own approach

    I have thought for years that my Thyroid was slightly under-active and have not been good with aerobic activity, climbing hills etc. since having Glandular Fever aged 20. I lost my outer eyebrows ages ago. I have been aware of my pulse being slow and irregular (43 -55) for over 10 years but have had ECG’s and told it wasn’t anything to worry about. It wasn’t until a medical showed a TSH of 5.25 and a slightly low FT4 of 11.8 that I thought I should probably do something about it if I was to continue to be healthy.

    It also made me realise that an increasing amount of tingling and parasthesia in my hands was probably more likely to be caused by my Thyroid than by neck arthritis. I felt, maybe wrongly, that if I went to my GP I would just be put on synthetic T4 Thyroid pills and from everyone I have dealt with over the years I knew this was not the cure all that it is often claimed to be.

    My plan was to first optimise my nutrition to see if that had any effect on my symptoms. I started by taking Bio-Selenium 200 as that is know to be essential for Immune and Thyroid function and it is a nutrient that many in the UK are know to be lacking. Ten days later I started a Basal Temperature chart and also recorded my pulse and blood pressure every few days. The first few days my temperature was in the range 34.1-34.4 C which is 2 degrees below normal therefore I decided to add an amino acid L-Tyrosine 500mg as I had read that this could possibly stimulate the available thyroid hormone. I realise that I was experimenting but I  researched and the only side effect was said to be that if you suffered with migraine headaches it may trigger them. I never get headaches since giving up gluten and dairy and therefore thought it was unlikely to affect me.

    Within 2 days my Basal Temperature was up 35.5-36.0 C and I actually felt very warm and my circulation was improved with warm feet – something that is a complete anomaly to me! This was in total contrast to the typical UK weather that had suddenly taken a dip back to cool and wet. That evening I started to get a headache and by the next evening it was continuous and worse – I felt like I had been kicked in the back of the head. Taking painkillers lessened it but then a couple of days later I started to get an uncomfortable feeling in my throat and a tight sensation on swallowing. Now this seemed extreme for a natural protein that is found in chicken, turkey and that I thought I probably was getting sufficient quantities of through my diet and so, listening to what my body was telling me, I stopped taking the L-Tyrosine. During the time I was taking it the tingling in my hands disappeared and I felt more energised and alert but I have since read that if you have autoimmune problems it may be too stimulating and cause more inflammatory reaction. If self medicating – even with nutritional supplements – always do thorough research!

    The tingling in my hands returned, the throat gradually returned to normal and my Temperature remained above 35C.  On to a new plan…

    Ashwaganda, a popular Ayurvedic medicine used for a wide variety of disorders, is something I have used before to treat stress and fatigue. It is an adaptogenic herb with the ability to get the body to regulate itself. It has been proven to work well in regulating the thyroid gland when additional T4 and/or T3 is required or if the rate of metabolism is slow.  Scientists concluded that people with hypothyroidism benefited from Ashwaganda due to it’s ability to raise T4/T3 and its anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, antioxidant and nerve protecting qualities. It is important to buy good quality herbs therefore I started on 1 capsule twice a day of fresh organic Ashwaganda Root Capsules.

    I also added Licorice (Glycyrrhiza Glabara) that supports immune function and with ingredients that heal the digestive tract, are anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-microbial. From my latest research it does look like there may be a connection to Autoimmune problems stemming from Epstein Barr infection that can stay dormant in the body therefore adding supplements that have anti-viral properties could help.

    So far, so good. I am generally sleeping better and have plenty of energy. The peripheral neuralgia is improving again and a month on my temperature has not fallen below 35C and I haven’t had any palpitations. I will carry on for another month with this plan as well as my usual Low Carb High Good Fat diet, Methyl B Vitamins, Vitamin D and keep eating nuts and seeds for zinc, Liver or pate for Ferritin levels, Lemon Balm (anti-viral) and Green Tea and Resveratrol in the form of Red Wine plus my Sizzling Minerals to make sure I get good magnesium levels and all the other minerals I need to help cellular function.

    I will get a repeat blood test and if I have to take a thyroid hormone then I would definitely prefer to take a natural one that provides all the elements needed and not just artificial T4 – thyroid function is complex. Functional Medicine is about looking for the root cause, assessing all the signs and symptoms and adjusting diet and lifestyle.

    This might sound a lot but it just becomes part of what you do – listen to your body, assess signs and symptoms and tweek as necessary! Those that don’t take time to maintain their health may end up losing time due to ill health!

     

     

     

     

     

  • Aging/ Arthritis/ Autoimmune diseases/ Collagen/ Energy/ Health/ Immune system - healing/ Inflammation/ Leaky Gut/ Nutritional Medicine

    Proven Nutritional Remedies for Ageing

    ageing

    There are certainly many personal and spiritual improvements that can come with age – more confidence, wisdom, understanding and courage to name just a few. Intolerance is not often considered to be a good trait but it can be what drives you to instigate change – it certainly is a strong factor that drives me into action. I do not accept that we have to suffer as we age. We have plenty of evidence that there are nutritional remedies for ageing and that in the ‘Blue Zones’ of the world, people live to be much older without the chronic ill health that is common during the last 20 years of life in the Western World. Most of us don’t want to live longer if it means being ill, immobile, lonely or mentally impaired and we don’t have to! There are natural proven Nutritional remedies for ageing, combating loss of energy, loss muscle strength and mobility, improving sleep etc.

    Our bodies slow down as we age,

    they don’t function quite as well as they used to but with the right knowledge we can minimise the effects. I am not going to tell you to get gym membership or run marathons as I have never been big on exercise myself. I am a nutritionist and so this is about optimum nutrition. Many of you  have probably already noticed changes that you either hate or have just tried to accept thinking that you can’t do anything about;

    • extra weight
    • fat tummy
    • lines, wrinkles
    • Bat-wing arms
    • loss of energy

    ….but here are a few more;

    • muscle loss and wasting
    • joint stiffness and pain
    • loss of flexibility and range of movement
    • poor quality sleep
    • breaking, fragile nails
    • thinning hair
    • inflammation
    • poor digestion
    • blood sugar problems
    • loss of strength and stamina
    • weakened immune system
    • bladder weakness
    • loss of memory and mental performance

    A depressing list and even with a positive mental attitude these are things that can seriously impact our quality of life.

    To illustrate the point I would like to tell you about my Mother. She was only in her 50’s when she started to suffer from the extreme pain and difficulties of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Sjögren’s syndrome (dry eyes, mouth, chronic cough, muscle pain and poor digestion). When I had my three children she was unable to hold them, play with them, bath them and even a cuddle could be painful. Now that I have grandchildren I realise the full extent of what she missed out on and it is because of her Autoimmune problems that I became interested in Nutrition and disease prevention.

    I have several friends of similar age to me (65) who also struggle to cope, have less energy, cannot get down on the floor, cannot lift anything heavy due to poor backs, knees or hips. Some my age have already had hip or knee replacement surgery. Weakness of grip and inability to open jars, inability to squat and get up again and lack of balance are all early warning signs and women tend to suffer this much more than men.

    Now the good news

    I have suffered from ALL of the symptoms above and at age 30 I seriously imagined being just like my Mum by the time I was in my 50’s. I was convinced that diet and lifestyle played a very large part and also that multiple doses of Antibiotics definitely worsened the symptoms. Nutrition became a passion that has grown year on year and while at work as a Nurse the talk was all about ‘evidence based Medicine‘ I was always bashing on about evidence based Nutrition!

    We are living through very interesting times when knowledge about nutrition, ageing and chronic disease is expanding daily and that there is plenty we can do to alleviate the symptoms of ageing with good, evidence based Nutrition.

    What we have to do is not only ignore but also undo the damage that decades of poor dietary advice – low-fat, low calories, high carbs have inflicted on our bodies. If you want to know more about this I have an article ‘ Why Low-fat diets damage your Health.

    Weight gain, joint pain, loss of energy are not symptoms of old age anymore than a sudden penchant for pearls could be and simple changes can reverse all of these symptoms – as I have proved. I am now my ideal weight at 10st.7lbs and most of the symptoms I have suffered in the past have significantly improved or even disappeared. I do have a very poor memory for names but my ability to learn has increased, not diminished; I have more strength and energy than a few years ago and my bladder weakness has improved about 90% – no medications just good nutrition and nutritional supplements.

    The Journey to a Healthier Old Age

    Writing for women and men of 40+ I would like to share my knowledge and help you to prevent or reverse all these horrible symptoms that your Doctor will tell you are down togetting old’ and we will start with…..

    Collagen.

    Collagen is an amazing substance made up of 3 main amino acids – Glycine, Proline and Hydroxyproline, that constitutes 30% of the total protein in our bodies. It is what strengthens tissues and holds us all together. When young the body consistently produces collagen but by age 40 collagen synthesis starts to decline, with a dramatic reduction in synthesis after the Menopause. By age 60 there is normally a considerable decline but with early or surgically induced Menopause this could be considerably younger. As it was for myself and my Mother. I had a Hysterectomy age 31 and what followed was poor digestion, multiple food intolerances, arthritis and fatigue. Collagen and especially Glycine helps to heal the gastrointestinal tract, it is needed for the production of Bile salts and digestive enzymes, strengthens the immune system and reduces chronic fatigue.  This is why it is one of the best nutritional remedies for ageing.

    Other lifestyle aspects that affect collagen production are high levels of stress, excessive exposure to UV light, smoking and a poor diet with high processed carbohydrates and sugar.

    Autoimmune disorders can also target Collagen.

    Increasing Collagen

    There are many ways you can increase your intake and production of Collagen and therefore increase the health of your joints, improve sleep and mood, improve skin elasticity, muscle strength and flexibility.

    With food

    Collagen is made up of several amino acids that all come from animal sources.

    1. Organ meat:- liver, kidney, heart, tongue, sweetbreads. Some people, children included, who have not been used to eating organ meat cooked on it’s own or in a casserole might prefer pâté, Haggis or it added to burgers and sausages.
    2. Connective tissue:- oxtail, neck, marrow – all cheap stewing or casserole cuts with plenty of bone. I find a Slow Cooker best.
    3. Bone Broth:- chicken, beef, ham – organic definitely best.
    4. Pork skin, chicken skin, fish skin.
    5. Eggs:- especially the whites but the yolk helps with the production of fibrinogen which is also important.
    6. Gelatin

    ‘Women of a certain age’ may get a lightbulb moment – did we eat far more of these foods growing up than we do now? Do we now spend a fortune on skin creams that claim to include or stimulate Collagen production and reduce wrinkles by including Retinol (Vitamin A) from animal sources?

    For Collagen to be well utilised in the body some other nutrients are required so these are also nutritional remedies for ageing and foods that increase vitality and a strong immune system.

    • Vitamin C – citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwis, tomatoes, leafy green vegetables, peppers and broccoli
    • Anthocyanidins – blackberries, blueberries, cherries and raspberries.
    • Copper – shellfish, nuts, red meat, avocados, liver, kidney.
    • Vitamin D – oily fish like tuna, sardines, herring, mackerel, salmon, egg yolks, mushrooms, small amounts in milk, cheese and yogurt. Sunlight on skin.

    Supplements

    If you are already showing signs of decreased Collagen in your body then as well as increasing all the foods listed I think you need to take a supplement for a minimum of 3-6 months. I was already eating all the right foods and taking a natural Plant Mineral daily but a supplement of powdered Collagen started to make a visible difference after just 1 month. They are not just for bodybuilders – although the adverts do supply a bit of eye candy! A useful site is here.

    Do check out the best supplements because many products with low doses are sold as beauty products.

    You can get Collagen as a powder that dissolves in liquid and is easily absorbed or in capsules or tablets. 3-6 grams a day is recommended. The Collagen usually comes from fish or bovine sources so check this if you have allergies. Some are made from concentrated bone broth. Some have Vitamin C added and some even have Hyaluronic Acid – which helps hydrate tissues and cushion joints.

    Better to spend your money on nutritional supplements that benefit the entire body than on expensive creams just for your face – most of which don’t work. Collagen is not easily absorbed by the skin. Most other treatments rely on stimulating production by removing the surface layer of skin cells (a konjac sponge is a great natural way to exfoliate) or damaging the deeper layers with needles or laser – definitely not something I would choose.

    ageing

    I would love your feedback and to know how you get on.   

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This article was first written by me  for Sally Canning’s website 2016.

  • 10 portions Fruit and Vegetables a day/ Health/ Magnesium

    Magnesium deficiency Stats Reveal All

    Magnesium

    Magnesium deficiency is commonplace and can have quite an impact on your health.

    These Magnesium stats reveal all.

    Magnesium content in vegetables has declined up to 80% since 1950 and modern processing of grains for flour and pasta removes 80-90% of total magnesium. No wonder we are now being told that we have to eat 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day to remain healthy!

    The World Health Organisation states that 75% of the population do not  reach the RDA for Magnesium of 300mg.

    What factors affect our levels of cellular Magnesium?

    • Stress and illness
    • carbonated drinks – phosphates bind to Magnesium
    • caffeine causes more Magnesium to be excreted through the kidneys
    • refined sugar does as well
    • taking Calcium supplements without Magnesium

    Magnesium is in your cells and the intercellular spaces so cannot be accurately measured with blood tests.

    Symptoms of Magnesium deficiency are  muscular cramps, poor sleep, anxiety, times of hyperactivity, chronic pain and heart problems but you can be deficient and not have identifiable or constant symptoms.

    Magnesium can be found in leafy green veg, wholegrain cereals, brown rice, nuts, pumpkin and other seeds, beans, fish and seafood, cocoa and dark chocolate.

    Here is a YouTube video from David Perlmutter MD that explains just how important Magnesium is for health.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmNIL3lo_Jg&sns=em

  • Health/ Organic produce

    Why now is the time to support Organic Farming.

    organic farming

    The Food Industry and major Supermarkets work hard to promote “cheap” convenient food while at the same time hiding intensive farming practises, poor treatment of animals and the effect on our health and the environment. I found out a few facts recently which had a big impact on me and made me research further, coming to the conclusion that we need to take more responsibility for what we eat and why now is the time to support Organic Farming. 

    BBC TWO screened a series called ‘New York: America’s Busiest City’ where they investigated how the City worked to clear rubbish, feed everyone and house people. It was a fascinating program giving us a glance of what has to happen ‘behind the scenes’ to make a City of this size function. One episode focused on Food and included a visit to a Beef farm where the intensively reared cattle were fed hay and grain and then fattened up for market with the addition of waste processed food like sweets, biscuits, gummy bears, and chocolate. I found this quite horrifying as it couldn’t be any more healthy for cattle than it is for us but then they are slaughtered at about 30 months –  they don’t get any long-term effect whereas we might!

    I know that there has been a lot of emphasis on Grass Fed beef recently but it took this program to make me realise that it was not just about feeding grain and pelleted food. There are two links to articles here….

     

    Some cattle eat grass, some eat corn and others have more of a sweet tooth they satisfy by chowing down on … into the same materials it would the starch in the corn they are fed.” It is not just candy, either. “Cattle are well equipped to utilize … via Feeding Your Cattle’s Sweet Tooth with Alternative Feeds Like Candy Can Help Improve Bottomlines

     

    chocolate, fruit loops and a whole list of candies. Fattening up the cattle thanks to a large percentage of sugar content and no real nutritional value, the disease-riddled cattle end up fetching a larger price for farm owners. The fruit loops-fed cattle … via Cattle Now Being Fed Cookies and Candies Instead of Real FoodGrazing Cow

    Public Domain from pixabay

    This article explains how the diet drastically changes the fat content in beef to being more anti-inflammatory Omega -3 fats in grass fed beef and containing more unhealthy Omega-6 fats when fed on junk food.

    Grass-fed beef is certainly more expensive, but is it better for you? If so, just how much better? via Grass-Fed Beef: Is It Worth The Extra Money? – BuiltLean

     

    Then with Trade agreements like TTIP in the news we hear of chickens being washed in chlorine after slaughter because they were reared in such confined, overcrowded,  dirty conditions  that they had to clean them up prior to packaging. We hear about huge multinational companies controlling seed purchases that relies on their toxic chemicals to get high yield, of more GMO crops entering our food chain.

    Therefore, if we care about our health and the health of our farming we need to be more aware of the source of our food and what it has been contaminated with.

    Should we also be annoyed when we are deliberately lied to or mislead by the Food Industry or Supermarkets? Tesco, Lidl and Aldi have all been guilty of this by labeling foods to have come from various ‘Farms’ with English sounding names that are not real Farms at all. In the case of Tesco’s the ‘Farm’ labels replaced the cheap ‘Everyday Value’ labels that were previously often ignored due to people thinking they must be poorer quality.

    It is time to start prioritising our values over price so that we can have an impact on animal welfare, the nutritional quality of the food we produce and the impact on our environment. UK farming  produces about 62% of the food we eat. Therefore 38% probably travels to us from anywhere in the rest of the world at great cost. At the present time we still waste a tremendous amount of food but that is now being highlighted and addressed by the Supermarkets and by organisations like FareShare who have 20 regional centres across the UK and are able to redistribute food to the people who need it most www.fareshare.org.uk

    Why now is the time to support Organic farming-especially in the UK

    At present we pay £6bn a year into the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) but our farmers only get about £3bn back and so are effectively subsidising their competitors. Once we leave the EU we need that money to be distributed fairly and proportionate to the value of the produce not the quantity. We also need to pay a fair price. A litre of milk costs the Farmer about 30p to produce so why do Supermarkets only want to pay them about 23p?  Retail organic food producers are doing very good business by connecting with their local communities both here and in the USA and giving us superior produce with much less packaging or plastic!

    organic veg

    This month I have added to my Free Range Meat delivery with local organic food, vegetables and eggs, ordered a weekly organic veg box and bought seeds ready to grow beans, beets, chard and herbs in pots in the Spring. It has only cost me a small percentage more but we have been eating really well and everything is tasty and lasts longer.

    organic veg

    Another good link below from Compassion in World Farming.

    Food and Human Health; Food Sense; Food sense 20/03/2012. … Philip Lymbery, CEO, Compassion in World Farming. Share this page. Tags. food; intensive agriculture; via Food Sense | Compassion in World Farming

    Happy Shopping…..