A New Health Event for Reading – It’s Your Life! April 2015

All of my working life has been concerned with health. I spent over 40 years in nursing – the NHS, private nursing and a charity. Observing over this length of time makes obvious what poor diet and lifestyle can do to a body – and most of us are aware of this even if we don’t always live up to it.

The price we pay when we take prescribed drugs

file000237973770The other problems that I have witnessed have come from drugs – legally prescribed for some ailment. It has to be remembered that in order to bring about help for an ailment, drugs must (or it happens coincidentally,) “poison” another anatomical or physiological part of us. Take arthritis or other inflammatory conditions. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often used for pain relief and these damage the gastric lining. Antibiotics prescribed for an infection usually decimate all the bacteria living on and in our bodies, indiscriminately. Hence, the bacterium causing the infection is conquered – but so are our beneficial bacteria – leaving our immune system wide open to attack from opportunist micro-organisms, making us sick again.

There is a price to pay for having our ills treated. Don’t misunderstand me – I for one would not be here writing this if I had not had mega-units of penicillin after a cat-scratch hospitalised me! There is a place for medical intervention – as a nurse, I saw many lives saved.

Wellness not illness

Disease prevention is where I am concentrating now. I am not necessarily talking about early detection of ill-health – although some methods are a good idea. We are born to wellness (for the most part) – not a life of illness. What is needed is proper education to help people with this, hence the “It’s Your Life!” show at Rivermead Leisure Centre, Reading. Everyone needs to feel that there is choice when it comes to their health and I set about the organisation of the event with this is mind. Health education should be free so there was no charge for entry to the show and neither will there be in the future.

IYL 12th April 2015  172It was hard work looking for the right people to exhibit – but an absolute joy to feel people’s passion for it! What better way to spread the word about improving our chances of a long and healthy life than to have eighty stands, manned by knowledgeable and sincere people? The feedback from the public was extremely encouraging. Berkshire has obviously been waiting for this and we are going to deliver. Bigger and better next time!

The aims of the show

The main aim was to show healthier choices in Moving, Wellbeing and Nourishing – which all add up to our lifestyles. We had a yoga and dance demonstration; there was a Nordic Walking specialist; Rivermead’s gym manager was on hand to answer questions about their facilities. There were many natural and holistic therapists offering taster treatments; product exhibitors were many, selling natural foods, personal care and other products to help preserve and nurture our health and our planet.

Another aim of the show was, where possible, to find small local companies. It is good for the economy, the carbon foot-print, Berkshire dwellers and the businesses themselves. One of the new local businesses wrote a lovely review of the show and you can see it here. Those companies from further afield offered goods by mail order.

IYL 12th April 2015  132

This show will continue twice yearly for as long as I am able! There will be a Christmas show in November and you will see all the natural therapies and hear the health advice, but with the opportunity to do some shopping for gifts too. See you there!

Email me

Photographs courtesy of Kathryn Fell Photography

Me Jane – You Tarzan! Part 2

Becoming Farmers

It was around 10, 000 years ago that we decided to settle. This meant that we could keep animals for food and grow some of the tastier plants. We also began growing grain. It is generally believed, due to the examination of human bones and teeth from this era, that farming heralded the beginning of the deterioration of aspects of our health. However, over subsequent millennia, we have adapted to this diet. When nature sees a genetic advantage, it is quick to switch off some genes and switch on others.

P8210153

Dairy

People in the Northern Hemisphere ate and tolerated dairy products at this time. We had the digestive equipment in place for most of the nutrients. The milk sugar lactose needs the enzyme lactase to digest it. We naturally produce this during infancy so as to digest breast milk, but then the gene is sometimes switched off.  With a small genetic adjustment to switch it back on and the fact that raw milk contains lactase, we were then able to benefit from raw dairy products. In fact much of the milk at that time would have soured into “yogurt” and some, ultimately used as a type of cheese. These products contain less lactose anyway, as the sugar is used by the bacteria and yeasts that ferment milk.

New Foods

Grains, peas and beans are a relatively new food for humans too. It was only when we settled that we were able to choose the biggest and the best of the seeds to produce future plants. These may well have been grown for fodder initially. Whilst they undoubtedly have some decent nutrients for humans, most are unavailable to us until the grains are processed thoroughly. All plants contain “antinutrients”. These are natural chemicals that aid the survival of plant species – they do not want to be eaten into extinction! We are all fighting for our place on the planet and we all have to defend ourselves.

These substances have the ability to make us unwell or at least uncomfortable. They can stop us digesting proteins properly (protease inhibitors); slow down starch digestion (amylase inhibitors); they can prevent the absorption of vital minerals (phytates, oxalates, glucosinolates, tannins and more). Plants are out to get us!

OBack in those times, slow food was the only way. We would have learned very quickly that grains and beans cannot be eaten raw without lengthy processing. Even then, some are just not edible raw due to the presence of lectins, another antinutrient. Red kidney beans are a good example. During the 1960s, it became trendy  to become vegetarian, but little had been published on the subject and people just did their own thing. Consumption of raw beans is downright dangerous and hundreds of new vegetarians were hospitalised with varying degrees of digestive distress. Death can occur as we have no digestive way of processing this lectin, to make it non-toxic. It can enter the bloodstream unchanged.

Processing beans and grains involves soaking and fermenting or sprouting, which renders the antinutrients less harmful. There are usually still traces which today, can still be problematic for some.

This, and part 1 of Me Jane – You Tarzan!, gives you a little insight to how our digestive systems have evolved. It is my belief that if we eat the diet we have evolved with, we are less likely to suffer the modern illnesses. Eggs, nuts, fish, meat, green vegetables, roots and a little fruit. (Remember that the fruit and veg we have now, bear no resemblance to those we ate in the past.)

However – we have evolved to be able to tolerate, without too much problem – the odd slice of cake or a meal in a restaurant. Just as well I’d say!

 

 

Me Jane – You Tarzan! Part 1

 

P1020288

What Life Needs for its Existence

Life on Earth as we know it, began due to four things; minerals, sunlight, water and oxygen. I’m no scientist, but I guess that minerals and the sun had to come first and the minerals gave rise to water and oxygen. No matter. The point is, without them, our world would not exist in the way it does.

If life is deprived of any of these elements, it will ultimately die – due to a direct or indirect lack. For example:

  • We die very quickly without oxygen.
  • Anaerobic organisms will die if their host is denied oxygen.
  • There is no life that can exist without minerals.
  • Sunlight creates energy in plants. It’s true that we can live quite happily without plants, but only if we eat the animals that do eat them. There is a finite amount of energy in the universe – it is only the form it takes that changes so in this case, we derive energy directly from plants, or indirectly from animals.
  • Water is needed to supply life with nutrients – no water, no life.

As I said, I am no scientist but hopefully you get my meaning. These elements are still the most vital contributors to life. Hundreds of millions of years ago, when life was advanced enough to leave the mineral-rich oceans, it had to take the sea with it in a complex network of tubes – which we call the circulatory system. These soluble minerals enable life. They literally allow the body to conduct all the processes that it needs. For example; contraction of muscles including heart muscle in animals, regulating fluid balance, producing enzymes for digestion and feeding the symbiotic microbes that inhabit all life.

 

Our Evolution – Me Jane, You Tarzan!

Humans have been evolving for around 2,500,000 years and nature has done a great job. Our omnivorous character was born from need – as our teeth tell us that we are primarily meat-eaters. If there was no meat, plants kept us alive until meat again became available. Fruit would have been eaten, but remember – the northern hemisphere only produces fruit during autumn. The carbohydrates from fruit are easily stored as fat, which would have been a welcome energy source over the approaching winters. We made the best of what was available.

Our genetics haven’t changed much in 40,000 years (which is the scientific consensus), during which time we have battled two ice ages. The last one finished around 10,000 years ago. During these cold times, there would have been little in the way of edible vegetation and what there was, we may not have had the digestive equipment for. Animals and fish sustained us. Nothing was wasted – if it was chewable, it was eaten. The liver, kidneys, heart, glands and brain were (and still are) very valuable sources of nutrients. There was no “organic” food, because food was just food – untainted. This food nourished us, sustained us and enabled procreation. And that is why we are here now.

file0002003501002

The next blog will cover what has happened since we started to live in communes, keep animals and grow food.

 

A New Slant on Eating Disorders (And Other Conditions of the “Mind”)

I watched a TED talk yesterday about how specific bacteria within us, communicate with each other and different strains. This gives them information that they need to grow, reproduce and prosper. It is a fascinating subject. You may have heard me say, (because I say it frequently!) that in terms of cells, we are only 10% human. Bonnie Bassler says between 1 and 10%. It is so ridiculous for us to believe that we are “in charge”. We absolutely are not.

Think of it this way to get a handle on it. The world population is approximately 1.7 billion. The microbes on and in you amount to approximately 10 trillion! 1 trillion is 1 million times 1 billion in the UK – different in the US but still huge.  How is it possible that the 1-10% of human cells could possibly be ruling the roost? No, we live in a symbiotic relationship – we can’t do without them and they can’t do without us – but they call the shots! Our job is to keep our natural microbiome happy and healthy and then they will do the same for us.

This article from the newspaper a while ago talks of treating eating disorders with antibiotics in the future. For me as a natural nutritionist, I think that this maybe largely unnecessary. I have not as yet, treated anyone with an eating disorder, but I’m up for it, because the theory makes perfect sense. Our diets and lifestyles are responsible for the varieties and health of microbes that we are home to. Get these in order and our health should follow.

I have attended several conferences where Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride  has spoken. Her book Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) has become deservedly, very popular. She explains how the brain and gut (where most of the microbes hang out) are inextricably linked. Although it is not mentioned in the book, Dr. McBride has spoken of the connection between eating disorders and the disrupted microbiome – or dysbiosis. She firmly believes in this too. The connections made in the book are to ADHD, autism, schizophrenia, dyspraxia, dyslexia and depression.

index

So, these critters might be in charge, but what can we do to make them work for us? My suggestions are here in Healthy Life, but if you have a specific health issue, why not get in touch?

Email me

“Study Shows Healthy Food More Expensive Than Unhealthy Food”. Oh Really?

How can it be said that “healthy food” is more expensive than junk food? It’s enough to make anyone just give up trying to do the healthy eating thing.

P1350029

Whilst I don’t believe everything I read, I would have expected more from Science Daily – which I subscribe to. The articles here are summaries of research, but there is always so much to take into account. Is the research good – is it impartial or are the researchers being paid to show a specific theory? Has it been correctly carried out – was the sample big enough and were all the variables accounted for? There’s more. When you read a summary, it is common for the author to add their own slant or try to interpret findings.  All this (and more) can make reading research findings and the reports of research findings, a minefield of misinformation!

I’m not saying I am an expert here either. I have forty-plus years in health and nutrition and the experience I have gained has made me careful in what I say.  However, if it makes good sense to me then I will use it for sharing and in my blogs.

This report is ridiculous.

There is SO much that could go wrong with a subject this big. I’ll itemise a few of the problems:

1)      Whose “healthy food” idea has been used? The chances are it has been measured against government guidelines for a healthy diet. To my mind, this is not the healthiest diet. My recommendations are here.

2)      “Healthy foods in 2012 are three times more expensive per calorie than less healthy foods.” This assumes that calories count – which, in the main, they don’t! It also indicates that the energy we obtain from food is the most important and whilst it is important, micronutrients are equally important. If you just want energy, you could just get it from sugar. If you want nutrition, you should eat whole foods – eggs, vegetables, meat etc.

3)      In order that “healthy” and “unhealthy” foods can be compared, these must have been packaged and not fresh. Food that isn’t packaged is usually healthier anyway. You don’t get ready meals unpackaged, but you can get a low-fat lasagne (“healthy”) and a regular lasagne (“unhealthy”). The ingredients list has been used to determine “healthy” or “unhealthy” and of course, government guidelines are used to decide..

4)      The article doesn’t say, but foods will almost certainly have come from supermarkets. Bet they didn’t buy from farmer’s markets!

5)      “The finding shows that there could well be merit in public health bodies monitoring food prices in relation to nutrient content..” The content is not the same as its nutrition. Content means that the nutrients may be present but it does not mean that they are bio-available to us. In other words, the nutrients may be in a form that is either difficult for us to absorb or even impossible. Nutrition takes account of these differences. For example, adding vitamins to food looks good, but they are often in a form that we have trouble metabolising. Also, when vegetables are incorporated, especially legumes such as peas and beans, they can interfere with how we absorb minerals as well as contain nutrients we may not be able to use!

00858

I have to refer to my previous blog. This is all about what people are prepared to do – or not do – in the kitchen. If we can cook, we can produce nutritious food which is less expensive. Due to advertising, we believe that we are “worth it” and “deserve” the things that are perceived as more expensive and better. We think that meat means steak and other muscle meats. We think that fish means salmon and that fruit means pineapples and mangoes. Advertising has much to do with what we believe and we have lost sight completely of what is in season, now that most foods are available all the year round.

Just look at what this woman believes is “healthy”.

Here is another article regarding a woman who wants a cash incentive from the government to lose weight because she “can only afford junk food”.

These women just need cookery skills. Of course, motivation to be healthy would help. Blaming everything and everyone else for one’s own situation is misguided since the only person who can make a difference to your life, is you. Sadly, many people would buy their daily latte for £3, but wouldn’t buy organic eggs for £2. Education is needed.

A few tips for eating well on a budget:

  • Learn how to make a stew or soup from cheap cuts of meat. Lots of recipes on the net. Get started with the basis for nourishing soups here - broth.
  • Learn how to make real porridge instead of “quick” oat cereals or cold cereals. These are expensive.
  • Buy seasonal vegetables and a little fruit (not essential to health but nice to include as a treat).
  • Grow something! Everyone has room for something.
  • Use eggs (even organic are cheap) and cheese for main meals. Great nutrition on a budget! No health problems associated with eggs now, so just go for it!
  • Learn how to use lentils and beans. Treated properly, they are great nutrition.
  • Shop around. It is just not the case that supermarkets are the cheapest – and they often don’t even sell the cheaper cuts of meat. Try markets and farm shops.
  • More advice here in my six part blog on healthy eating during a recession.

What price would you put on your health? Frankly, if you don’t have good health, you have nothing. You may not be able to work so outgoings will be a problem, your relationships will suffer and it could be physically, very uncomfortable for you. Chronic poor health leads to early death but the whole situation is up to you. Eat nutritious food and good health becomes the norm.

Nourishing November on a Budget is coming. Please join in! Follow me on Twitter and my Facebook page for more information.

Email me

The Diabetes Industry – Laughing All the Way to the Bank

Of the UK population, we now have approximately 5% who have been diagnosed as diabetics, many more with pre-diabetic conditions and those who are as yet, undiagnosed. This includes both type 1 and type 2. Both types are growing exponentially and regardless of population increase. They are metabolic diseases.



file000350875963


Novo Nordisk has set a long-term global target of providing quality diabetes care products (my emphasis) to 40 million people by 2020.”

“Providing” sounds so generous and altruistic doesn’t it? It’s meant to – we are supposed to believe in these qualities. The reality is that products are being sold all around the world, including to developing countries, where a large part of their diet comprises inexpensive carbohydrate foods. Since these countries are consuming the very foods that can bring about diabetes, it is a very profitable market.

Novo Nordisk is just one pharmaceutical company supplying insulin. Insulin and other diabetic drugs are needed by millions, so I am not dismissing them out of hand, but just pointing out that this is business. Diabetes is huge business so let’s look at this industry. Approximately 80% of diabetics are overweight or obese so I am going to include some of the “obesity industry” bullet-points in my list.

  • pharmaceutical companies make insulin and anti-diabetic drugs of several sorts. Insulin prescriptions cost £328 millions and Metformin (anti-diabetes drug) £81 millions
  • needles and syringes are needed
  • books about diabetes are written and sold
  • specialist nurses and doctors must be trained in diabetes and then salaried, therefore…
  • trainers are needed – and someone to train them!
  • bariatric surgeons to provide surgery for those who cannot lose weight. (This is currently being discussed for diabetics with a lower body-mass index than for those with obesity alone.)
  •  gastric-band manufacturers
  • manufacturers of bariatric beds, chairs, commodes, hoists and other equipment
  • “diabetic foods”
  • blood sugar monitors and a constant supply of “blood sticks”

 

file0001828278912
These points indicate the industry (and it is not an exhaustive list). These businesses would go out of business if there were no diabetics and obesity. The actual cost of diabetes is incredibly far-reaching. Since diabetics have much more chance of becoming ill due heart disorders, lower limb problems even amputations and blindness, or whether just from minor infections – diabetics have more absence days from work than healthy people. They cost the work-place money – 8.4 billion per year. )LINK) There is a government benefits cost too for those that can’t work. The fact is, diabetics usually die younger. Harsh I know, but true nonetheless. What about the NHS? Hospital beds and GP surgeries are full of diabetics, due to all the complications that can be encountered by suffering diabetes. A simple statement which costs billions.

“The cost of diabetes to the NHS is over £1.5m an hour or 10% of the NHS budget for England and Wales. This equates to over £25,000 being spent on diabetes every minute.”

This is a disease that is, in the main, both preventable and reversible. Why is the research funding not directed at causes and prevention instead of maintenance drugs and cures? You answer.

Email me

Statistics are from diabetes.co.uk.

Diabetes Simplified

 The name Diabetes Mellitus has Latin and Ancient Greek origins. Roughly translated it means “sweetness (honey, actually) passing through”. A urine test will often show sugar is present in a new diabetic – the “sweetness passing through”.

 

file0001630432462

Diabetes comes about when the body is not able to control its blood sugar correctly, because it can’t control its insulin supply. Insulin is the hormone which metabolises blood sugar – glucose to be accurate, sending it to muscles for physical energy, storing some in the muscles and liver as glycogen, and when those reserves are full, it will turn it to fat and store it in adipose (fat) tissue.

In type 1 diabetics, the pancreas produces little or no insulin. The diagnosis is often made during puberty or adolescence. There are many theories about the cause of this type, but none that are definitive.  In type 2, the pancreas has had to produce more and more insulin in response to blood sugar, as the mechanisms becomes less sensitive (insulin sensitivity) to the same levels of blood glucose. This leaves glucose in the blood with nowhere to go – this is the state of hyperglycemia. As the disease progresses it is called “insulin resistance”. Unlike type 1, there are many known factors in type 2 diabetes which I will refer to later. There are some other causes of diabetes, but as these make up the minority, I will not discuss them here.

“Type 2 diabetes is now so common, it would be reasonable to say that in the western world, it is at epidemic proportions.”

Type 1 diabetes makes up around 10% of all cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes makes up almost all of the remaining 90% of all types. It used to be known “mild” (which it is most certainly not) or “late-onset” diabetes, because that is when it most often presented. Today however, diagnosis of type 2 is not uncommon in much younger people – even adolescents and children. This is not necessarily due to modern methods of diagnosis, as associated metabolic diseases are also increasing.

Of the UK population, we now have approximately 5% who have been diagnosed as diabetics and many more with pre-diabetic conditions and undiagnosed diabetes. This includes both type 1 and type 2. Both types are growing exponentially and regardless of population increase. These are metabolic diseases.

The signs and symptoms of diabetes are similar for both types;

  • excessive thirst
  •  polyuria (excessive urinating)
  •  minor infections and delayed healing
  •  Tiredness
  • sometimes weight-loss.

Often, diabetes isn’t diagnosed until something major occurs – heart attacks, strokes, eye-problems and severe infections.

file0001812797650

Type 2 diabetes is now so common, it would be reasonable to say that in the western world, it is at epidemic proportions. There are many possible factors and associations involved, which include;

  • a diet high in concentrated carbohydrate foods –bread, breakfast cereals, cakes, sweets, fizzy drinks etc.
  • vitamin D deficiency
  • intake of polyunsaturated vegetable fats – seed oils and margarine
  • family history of diabetes
  • lack of exercise
  • obesity is an association, being caused by the same metabolic problem as diabetes

The most important factors for preventing diabetes are essentially my Healthy Life guidelines. The chances of an adolescent  being diagnosed with type 1 would most certainly be reduced if all couples trying for a baby and the mother whilst pregnant, by following these guidelines. As well as adopting this lifestyle, people with type 2, or a pre-diabetic condition, need to reduce carbohydrates more and increase their intake of good fats.

Next time I will address the industry that diabetes has engendered.

Email me

Cavemen Didn’t Run Marathons

Have you ever wondered why you don’t see many wild animals dashing about, needlessly expending energy?

If they are dashing about, it will probably be due to the need to flee from a predator or be a predator. There are a few exceptions – some animals are naturally active especially the young of any species, but then what do they do? Collapse in a heap and sleep it off!

DSC00258

“An animal instinctively knows when the conditions are right to eat, sleep, excrete, procreate and even die.”

In nature it doesn’t make sense to expend energy needlessly. Nature’s aim is healthy life, procreation and survival and in this it is tunnel visioned. It has countless “tricks” which it uses to these ends. For example: we get hungry when nutrients are needed and we get tired when sleep is needed – it’s not rocket science! An animal instinctively knows when the conditions are right to eat, sleep, excrete, procreate and even die.

We, naturally, are above all that aren’t we? We are blessed with large brains and we feel the need to use them even if brain power is not required. So instead of relying on our instincts to guide us in natural functions, we resort to the findings of (often) dubious research. How mad is that? After all, we are animals too and have been evolving for millions of years. Nature’s tunnel vision it would seem, is extremely efficient or we wouldn’t be here.

During my career as a nurse, I used to meet people all the time who were suffering injuries sustained by over-exercising or just getting it wrong. Back problems are number one (since you need the strength in your back for virtually all vigorous activity) but also knee, ankle and hip injuries, on a regular basis. Our pursuit of fitness is not without hazards. Sadly, the sufferers of these self-inflicted injuries, often do not recover sufficiently to resume their former level of activity. This leads to frustration at best and depression at worst. There is a saying, “live fast, die young” and I suspect that this maybe true in many cases. What is most certainly incorrect, is the notion that you can just burn off the calories that you have eaten and that everything will be fine. It didn’t work for Sir Steve Redgrave, who carb-loaded all his active rowing life and it won’t work for you either. He became diabetic. What is important, is that you provide your body with the proper nutrients needed for its health and activity. Sadly, most people who exercise in this way are those that cut out the fat and increase the carbs. This is the quickest way to age yourself – facially and bodily.

It is not my intention to stop people doing that which they enjoy. It is merely to inject a note of caution and common sense. Constantly going for burn is dangerous. If you do this you are ignoring your body’s warning that it is under stress – and stress in any form on a regular basis, is not beneficial to good health. It starts up the “fight or flight” hormonal response, which physically damages us. This response is for the odd occasions (nowadays anyway) that we need to get ourselves out of danger. For our overall health, we do need to get our hearts racing sometimes, but possibly the best type of exercise is interval training – good if you really want/need to allot time for exercise.

“Activity is important; playing games (safely) is fine and going to the gym is fine provided you listen to the messages your body sends.”

file0001856731560Many people I met, would apologise for the fact that they hated gym work. They would expect me to tell them that they should be working out regularly so I told them to walk to the gym, then turn around and walk home again. Activity is important; playing games (safely) is fine, going to the gym is fine provided you listen to the messages your body sends. Did cavemen run marathons? Very doubtful! They most probably used stealth, cunning and team-work to catch their food – for the most part anyway. This type of activity is effectively fuelled by their low-carb diet. We are not so different now that we need a new set of rules!

We need to be active and rest when needed. Using controlled movement to limit damage and we should do some resistance work to encourage good supple muscles and joints and occasionally, get out of breath.

How do we do this? We walk the dog, dig the garden, wash the car, run for the bus, vacuum the house and have sex. Tough isn’t it?

Here is an article by Dr.John Briffa on walking versus running.

Email me

The Ins and Outs of Cholesterol

Firstly, let’s get some perspective on cholesterol. It is a “lipid” or type of fat that is needed deepfriedbutterby almost every cell in the body. Cholesterol has so many functions in the body that we can’t live without it and as we need so much, we manufacture (up to 75%) and recycle what is necessary in addition to what is eaten in the diet. Some of its functions are:  providing a lining inside our cells to allow the free flowing of nutrients in and waste products out; nerve insulation and brain function (the brain needs lots of cholesterol), producing bile, hormone production (including sex hormones), the formation of vitamin D3 in our skin in sunlight (UVB rays) and contributing to a healthy immune system. Low levels of blood cholesterol can indicate an underlying disease and needs investigation. (There is more here about the benefits of cholesterol to the body.)

“I can’t help saying “what’s next?”

We have been able to test the blood cholesterol levels since the early to middle of the twentieth century, but at that time and for many years subsequently, total cholesterol was the “important” factor. The upper limit for total cholesterol was decided upon but then changed in the 1990s. Since then, many more things have changed. The ratio of high-density lipoprotein (hdl or so-called “good” cholesterol) to low-density lipoprotein (ldl or so-called “bad” cholesterol) became vital.  Then someone decided that, actually, it was the ratio between hdl, ldl and triglycerides (another blood fat) that was important. Moving rapidly on – today the important thing is the ratio between the two types of bad cholesterol and that’s where we are now. I told myself I would try not to put too much of my own slant on these facts, but I can’t help saying “what’s next”? We thought we knew the facts about illness 100 years ago and 50 years ago…and we think the same now. This is why I believe perspective is important when you are faced with health decisions. Our ancestors had no idea what their cholesterols were – they didn’t need to because when the correct diet is eaten, the body looks after itself – and they had no choice with their diet. They just ate what was available, which was a far cry from the diet we eat today. WE have not evolved sufficiently for this diet and that is where the trouble lies.

Eating our modern diet has played havoc with our cholesterol levels and there is no doubt that this disruption is harmful. Total cholesterol is not a good indicator of potential heart file0001982270186disease but raised triglycerides are. It has been shown that the two types of ldl particles are important – one being light and fluffy and the other being small and dense. The light fluffy ldl is not a problem at all, but the small dense type is the problem associated with heart disease as it creates inflammation in the body – and the body does not like inflammation. In the arteries (or anywhere for that matter), inflammation will summon all the repair mechanisms at its disposal – including cholesterol and then BINGO! Long-term, cardio-vascular disease will ensue.

A total cholesterol reading can only ever be a guide so if you have been advised that you should see a doctor regarding your test it would be a very good idea to ask if you can have your triglycerides and the two types of ldl particles differentiated.  Worth a mention – half of first-time heart attack patients have total cholesterol levels within the normal range. What does that lead you to think?

Be mindful that, due to the body’s great need for cholesterol, it will manufacture it from any food you eat. If you are supplying your body with the wrong building blocks, you may end up with the wrong stuff or the wrong ratios. I have met a vegan with “high cholesterol! NO animal fat in the diet.

Email me

Micaela’s Story – Her Fight With IBS (IBS Part 6)

Mic2Micaela’s recovery from illness is one I want to share. She had a condition called “gut dysbiosis” which means that the normal microbes in the gut are having a hard time. Due to the unpleasant and varying effects of dysbiosis, the condition has been called “Irritable Bowel Syndrome”, “Food sensitivities”, “Spastic Colon”, “Chronic Constipation”  and more, but the fact is, that in 99% of cases, it is Gut Dysbiosis.

Micaela had most of these labels with a few more conditions thrown in, including depression. This is her story in her words and how we treated her and I am very grateful to her for allowing me to tell it.

Micaela – “Back in 1985 I had my appendix removed. The operation went OK and I was given antibiotics afterwards. I seemed to make a complete recovery, although when I look back it was around that time that I started to suffer from a lot of wind, bloating and constipation. I was a single mum trying to raise my boys alone and working in a fast food restaurant and didn’t have a very good diet. It was just one of those minor niggles you learn to live with.

“Over the next few years I took a considerable amount of anti-inflammatory drugs and pain killers.”

Ten years on I started to suffer a lot of back pain. I was born with a congenital deformity of the spine and age and hard work had taken their toll on my back.  Over the next few years I took a considerable dose of anti-inflammatory drugs and pain killers.  I started to suffer constipation and diarrhoea and a sort of empty rumbling in my gut.  I often used to crave toast and butter and it seemed to settle things for a while.
At this stage it had developed from a minor niggle to something that was becoming a bit irritating.

Early 1999 I had some gynae problems. I was prescribed hormonal treatment for about six months which did settle things down.  By the middle of 1999 I had my first ever migraine. That marked a major downturn in my life. I started to have migraines about every two weeks to begin with; they steadily got worse until at their worst point, I only had about 3 days in any one month where I didn’t have a terrible headache. I’d spend days in bed often battling the most terrible pain.  Doctors thought it was hormonal and want to do a hysterectomy, but I felt this was wrong I was sure it was something I was eating. I tried cutting different foods out for a while but never made much headway.

“I ..cut out fruit and sugars and thought I had beaten it”

In 2002 I had a food intolerance test, which came back positive for milk, eggs and yeast. I cut these foods out of my diet and although I felt a little better, I never made any real progress back to full health. The possibility of Candida was mentioned at this time, so I also cut out fruit and sugars and thought I had beaten it.  Some time after changing my diet I started to suffer from constant diarrhoea – 8-10 times a day.  It was so bad I didn’t want to go out anywhere.  I was trying to eat soda bread & homemade Cornish pasties, so as to avoid the yeast.
In 2005 I saw a gastroenterologist who put me on a gluten free diet and for a little while I seemed a little better.  It was short lived and things started to deteriorate rapidly.
I was put on an exclusion diet which started with lamb, carrots, rice and pears.  I never really made it much past 12 foods and once I brought in any kind of fats I had the most terrible headache.  At last I felt I had worked out a connection between food and the headaches.

Since this time I have lived mainly on rice, not fats at all and occasionally small pieces of rice(1)chicken and pineapple.  I gradually grew  sicker and sicker suffering from constant fatigue, brain fog, memory loss, got up tired and went to bed exhausted, stomach pain, cramping in my gut, constipation, diarrhoea, bladder problems, aching joints, depression, numbness in my fingers, earache, pain behind the eyes, nausea – need I go on? I could see life slipping away, everything I tried to eat apart from rice caused me problems of some kind. I’d seen numerous doctors and had many tests but no one could get to the bottom of the problems with my health.”

A desperate appeal for help went out in the Metro newspaper.


Treatment of illness this severe, often means that the sufferer has to suffer a bit more before healing can begin. Gut problems are almost exclusively due to gut-dysbiosis and this is regardless of the diagnosis. Because of this, treatment has to be similar in all cases.

With the emphasis being on “the absorption of the correct nutrients as quickly as treatment allows”, as priority, easily absorbed foods must be used. These foods have to be the ones that good bacteria and microbes thrive on – and it is no coincidence that these very foods are the very ones that nourish us too. They don’t nourish the microbes that have moved in, set up home and become pathogenic – the ones causing the illness.

All life forms eat, drink and excrete. Not in quite the same way perhaps but the microbes that are supposed to be in our gut, help us with their excretions or “metabolytes”. They produce vitamins and enzymes and help digest the food we eat. Those that have overtaken do far more damage than than just hinder this process! They have to be brought under control and largely be killed off.It is this that causes the worsening symptoms at the beginning of treatment. When pathogenic microbes die, their toxins can overwhelm the body and they have to be removed – whichever way.. Think – diarrhoea, foul breath, body odour and rashes accompanied with headaches and gut pain from intestinal spasm.

Once the bad boys under control then it is imperative to replace with the microbes that naturally live in our guts. Once they are established, more foods can be added gradually. Gut healing is a very long process of trial and error, but determination does pay.

When  Micaela reported back to the papers after only three weeks of treatment when she was eating around forty different foods, I was delighted that she felt well enough to do this. However, I was concerned that she felt she was almost “cured”. It had taken many years for her insides to make her as sick and malnourished as she was – and true recovery would take much, much longer. The first six months were extremely difficult, but it was a year before she felt she had the confidence to go it alone. She would have been fine without support after six months, but long-term illness saps confidence and so we still kept in touch frequently for this time.

I am very happy to report that right now (August 2014), Micaela has several part-time jobs, both at home and outside. When I met her she weighed 48 kilos and she is now 60 kilos. She is happy, healthy and living her life.

Here is a report of Micaela’s progress barely three weeks later.
..and 6 months later, looking forward to Christmas dinner

Here is a short audio on Micaela’s recovery:

 

Email me