Cretan Olive Oil – it doesn’t get any better than this!

Whilst on holiday in Crete, I was fortunate enough to visit an organic olive plantation. Here they produce beautiful rich, green cold-pressed #oliveoil. Some is flavoured with lemon peel and some with bitter orange peel (my favourite!)

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We had a short tour of the production plant. This is small compared to the big, non-organic olive oil plants. The plantation has been in one family for many generations and what they don’t know about olives isn’t worth knowing! The oil is produced with love – the olives are stone ground, cold pressed and quickly bottled to preserve nutrients. Even the remaining stones and skins are dried and used as fuel.

The olive trees are only sprayed with a mineral powder and water. This deters the main pest – a fly which pierces the skin of the olive and thus allowing oxygen in. Due to the oxidation, the acidity in resulting olive oil is increased.

There has been much written about whether olive oil spoils when heated. The definitive answer is NO. To clarify, some of the nutrients may be lost but it does not become rancid/harmful/changed to trans fats. Greeks (and people in other olive-growing countries) use it for everything and always have done. The benefits of olive oil are in USING it – raw and heated.

The Mediterranean diet is a healthy one (although fast-foods are available) and olive oil plays its part. They eat lots of dairy – in the form of Feta cheese (at every meal!) and yogurt. I wasn’t on the mainland or in a very touristy area and didn’t see any “low-fat” anything. Phew.

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CANCER – Will You Be the One in Two? (Part 2)

Part two of this blog, elaborates on the points made in part one. Employing these measures will decrease your risk of developing cancer. Can you afford not to?

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Immunity
The single most important factor to avoid cancer (and many other diseases), is a healthy immune system.  There are many aspects to immunity and there are intrinsic and extrinsic factors which affect it. The trouble, is that the extrinsic affects the intrinsic! Here, I will deal with the factors you can easily manage for yourself and talk about the rest separately.

The simplest life is not possible without four things – minerals, water, air and the sun. At the very basis of our existence these aspects must be addressed. Replenishing minerals is essential for the workings of the immune system.

Minerals – our soil is exhausted and therefore our food lacks minerals. One very good way to boost your intake is to use salt. Real salt. Not just sodium and chloride as we see in supermarkets, but that with which life began – Himalayan crystal salt which contains all the balancing minerals our bodies need for correct functions. Celtic grey salt is also excellent.
Water – Don’t drink from a plastic bottle – soft plastics leach their chemicals into the water and these are toxic to our bodies. Drink filtered water from glass, preferably. Please don’t over-hydrate. We should drink to our thirst (although the elderly may need a little coaxing) and to keep our urine pale yellow (ie. not clear and not amber).
Air – We have little control over the air quality where we live. Nonetheless, we can all get to the countryside and breathe fresher air. Plants help clean the air for us so get out as often as possible.
Sun – Make no mistake – we need the sun. It gives us many benefits (as well as life itself) and should not be avoided. Perhaps its greatest gift is vitamin D3. We now know that this vitamin is usually severely lacking in cancer patients and that there is more than a passing connection between vitamin D3 deficiency and around twenty specific cancers. The sunscreen manufacturers will tell you that malignant melanomas are due to the sun, but there is evidence that good blood levels of vitamin D3, actually reduces the risk! If the sun can cause malignant melanomas, then it is due to an unhealthy body in the first place.
Sunbathe: In the northern hemisphere, sunbathe as often as possible during April to September. Wear as little as possible – and definitely not sunscreen! The sun should be high in the sky (your shadow should be as long or shorter, than you are tall). Do not burn. Depending on your skin colour, stay in the sun until your skin is slightly pink, not red. This may be five minutes a side for very fair skin or up to half an hour a side for black skin. Fortunately, we can store this vitamin so we gain protection over winter too. However, a short winter holiday in the sun is a good boost!
When you have completed your sunbathing, cover up, go inside or apply a non-toxic sunscreen.

Get dirty! A wonderful and free way to boost your immune system is to connect with the earth. Walking barefoot outside is good, gardening is relaxing and rewarding and both activities bring us in contact with soil organisms. Believe it or not, most of them are natural residents in our gut! Our microbiome (the microbes on our skin and in our gut) has everything to do with our immunity. In fact, most of the measures I am suggesting for keeping us healthy are in fact, to keep our microbes happy!

Have a good hard look at the evidence before vaccinating your children. Be informed.

 

Toxic Chemicals
Toxic chemicals are a very real threat to our health. The main reason for this is how widely they are used. Our food, personal and household products, plastics, industrial waste, what we are required to handle at work (eg. till receipts) – they are just everywhere. Bear in mind, these toxic chemicals have no place in our bodies and we are bombarded with them. It is estimated that women can use around 300 different chemicals on their bodies every day – shampoo, shower gel,  makeup, perfume, body lotions etc. Everything applied to the skin can end up in the blood stream. If we are to avoid them, we first have to know where they are. Time to learn! Read product information. Buy natural organic products and cooking pots (not non-stick) and find different solutions for household cleaning. There are many websites to tell you how to do this and you will spend far less than you are used to. Frankly, we do not need much more than water for any cleaning purpose!

 

Stress
Some people believe that stress is the most damaging cancer-promoting factor. It certainly damages the immune system. The co-factors – lack of sleep, lack of interaction, obsessive behaviours, under or over eating etc. – weaken us mentally, physically and biologically. Naturally, we all have some “stress” in our lives or we would never do anything. When it is not adversely affecting us, this stress is called motivation. So how can we deal with it so that it won’t harm? It’s simplistic to say don’t put yourself in this situation, but if you answered the question “What is the most important aspect of my life?”  as family, then maybe it’s time to reassess your life – work included. Other options to manage stress -
See your friends and family often.I90BFnYh
Walk, preferably in the countryside. Notice what is around you and don’t try solving work problems whilst you are walking.
Try mindfulness, yoga, swimming.
Read books, not computers – before bed.
Have a bath! We are so used to jumping into the shower to revitalise, we have forgotten the relaxing feeling of a warm bath. Especially good before bed.
Get involved. It can be very rewarding to get involved with a community project/voluntary activity and as it is not work-related, it can almost have the same effect as a relaxation technique. Helping people is probably the most rewarding activity of all.
Appreciate what you have. If you are reading this on a computer or tablet, you have more that most people in the world. Honestly, if you have a roof over your head, people that love you and you love and food on the table, what more is needed? Learn to love your life and be grateful for it.

 

Fasting
There is good evidence that fasting can be very beneficial to both weight loss and cancer-prevention. Since most cancers need a supply of glucose for their progression, fasting nips this in the bud. Every day we all make cells that could become a cancer. A healthy immune system will take down these cells in much the same way that invasive bacteria and viruses are engulfed. This is the function of our white blood cells. As well as sustaining tumours, glucose impairs the function of white cells by slowing down their response to these “foreign” cells.
Fasting doesn’t need to be arduous. For most people, an overnight fast will be effective. The idea is to have dinner early and breakfast late. This type of fast needs a minimum of about fourteen hours, so that means dinner around 7pm and breakfast around 9am.

 

Diet
As you can see, all these points are interlinked, but diet must have a paragraph of its own. Since we eat several times per day, what we eat should be paramount. Sadly, this is not the case in the real world. What does hunger mean to you? Think about it. Nature has provided us with this sensation for a reason. The only reason for it, is to tell us that vital nutrients are getting low and we need to replace them. What it does not mean, is fill the stomach with anything to make the sensation go away. This so often happens, then a couple of hours later the hunger returns – presumably in the hope that this time, the correct nutrients will be supplied.
Cereal and toast for breakfast or eggs and bacon? Give it a try and see how long it is before your hunger returns after each.
As I could write a book on diet, here I am going to keep it short. Whatever foods you eat, they should be organic and supply all the nutrients that a human body needs. If we make sure we have a meal containing protein, good fats and something plant-based (veg and a little fruit), we can rely on nature to provide the vitamins and minerals. It is good to add fermented foods sometimes such as sauerkraut and kefir. Grains and sugar should be for the odd occasion only. Drink alcohol sensibly and not every day. This is very simplistic, but there is lots more information on the website regarding food. Please note that fat is vital!  The wrong fats are the ones in vegetable oil (other than coconut and olive oils) and margarine – these are cancer promoters. It is fat that induces satiety after a meal.

 

Exercise
Moderate exercise boosts the immune system (too much damages it) and it keeps your blood glucose and insulin levels in check – both are implicated in the occurrence of cancer. The benefits of exercise can include social aspects, fresh air, connection with nature, increased wellbeing and more.

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CANCER – Will You Be the 1 in 2? (Part 1)

“By 2020 almost one in two people (47%) will get cancer at some point in their lives”. This statistic is from the Macmillan website.

According to Wikipedia, “Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body”. There are many theories on how/why it starts, but there is no doubt that constant inflammation in the body can set up responses which result in a cancer. There are many ways in which we contribute to this inflammation, knowingly and unknowingly. My endeavour is to give you some information so that you can make better life choices.

Cancer in humans from our pre-historic past is hard to prove or disprove due to lack of remains to examine. However, there are plenty of studies from peoples across the world living a simple, hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Cancers are rare – as are many other chronic diseases. The fact is, that when life is lived in the way that is most natural to us, these diseases do not develop. It’s so simple. Another interesting point is that wild animals rarely suffer cancers, but domesticated animals do. This is what happens when we think we know better than nature!

The biggest problem we face is modern life. We work hard, we don’t sleep well, we don’t get outside in the fresh air, we eat food that has been treated unnaturally, we smoke, etc. etc. Another problem is greed. Food manufacturers want to make a profit – so they use the cheapest ingredients plus chemicals to make them taste better. This produces inferior quality products that fool our taste buds. They do NOT have our health in mind. This is just one example of greed making us sick – there are many more.

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Ignorance is a contributory factor. We can be forgiven to a degree – we trust “experts” and doctors to give us sound information. But what has this trust achieved? A nation of sick people who – if we believe the news – have brought our NHS (paid for by us) to breaking point. The only way out of this mess is to stay out of hospital. In other words, reclaim our health. We must stop believing all we are told and think for ourselves. If hunter-gatherer peoples can do it, so can we, but it takes effort on our part and it can sometimes mean quite radical lifestyle changes – perspectives and values need to be reassessed. This is not just diet, not just exercise, not just getting better sleep and not any one thing – it’s learning really what it means to be human – healthy and integrated, as nature intended us to be.

You need to ask yourself a few questions -
What is the most important aspect of my life?
Is it worth protecting?
Do I want to make a change/changes?
Am I in a position to start making these changes?

Sometimes it is better to mull things over and maybe talk to close family and friends before committing yourself to anything that will affect them too. If you are intending to apply changes to include the whole family, get their opinions and suggestions and implement changes slowly – let them choose where to start maybe. You don’t need to believe all I say here. In fact please, if you are going to do this, you must understand why you are doing it. Research for yourself. You should not be just following instructions – you should have a real understanding of the whys and wherefores of the changes you will make.

I cannot say that the list below is definitive as we are living in a relentlessly changing environment. Industries look to implement the cheapest/highest profit measures – not the safest. More of the planet’s surface is becoming barren due to bad management and we adopt unhealthy behaviours etc.  This list will be expanded upon next time.

  • Protect and boost your immune system. Sunbathe, eat the right foods (including some fermented foods), fast, get in touch with nature, learn about vaccines, stop using plastics.
  • Use fewer toxic personal and household products.
  • Learn stress management techniques and avoid stressful situations. Stay positive.
  • Practice intermittent fasting.
  • Address your diet – eat organic foods and include good fats, protein and a variety of vegetables and a little fruit.
  • Exercise moderately, preferably outside.

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Food for Homo Sapiens

So many times I see written, “Everyone’s needs are different,” regarding nutrition. I don’t get it! I am not saying that everyone else is wrong and I’m right, I’m saying – I don’t get it!

This is my understanding and my interpretation. Our evolution, (from what we have been told of our origins) has gone through many stages and almost certainly began in Africa. Homo Sapiens has walked the Earth for millennia. Many of the “Homo” subgroups died out, for various reasons, leaving modern humans to rule. This happened around 200,000 years ago.

WE ARE THIS SPECIES! Each and every one of us is the same. We have the same amount of bones, our eyes/nose/ears/nervous systems are formed in the same way.  We all have a sense of taste and smell and digestive juices and enzymes. If you think about why this is, you will come up with the answer that they are needed to detect what is good to eat and what is not. If it were not the case, evolution would not have bothered with these senses and we’d have died out because we ate the wrong things. After all, wild animals and birds just eat instinctively what nature intended – why should we be different?

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I should say at this point, that we almost certainly did not have a conscience about what we ate and other animals have always been on the menu. Animals/birds/fish (everything organic of course) were relatively easy to obtain and yielded tasty and satisfying food. Modern humans have always cooked their food. If meat is being roasted, the smell immediately starts the digestive process, getting all the necessary juices and enzymes on their starting blocks in readiness for the food about to be eaten. If any vegetable matter was eaten, it would have been from necessity, more than choice as they just do not smell as good as a roast wild pig! Fatty animals were preferred, as it is fat eaten with protein that brings about satiety. Without fat, the hunt for food would have been impossible and we would have been weak. There is a dangerous condition referred to as “rabbit starvation” -  the effect of consuming lean protein without fats.

The fact is that if every edible part of an animal is eaten, all known (and possibly unknown) nutrients for the life of humans are available. It is how it was and it is why we are here.

We in the UK settled as farmers about 10,000 years ago. According to the consensus, we are genetically identical to these ancient people. We have adapted to the temperate climate – our eye colour and skins have lightened, but our nutritional needs are unchanged. We still need protein (fish, meat, eggs) and fats along with the nutrients they supply. There are essential proteins and fats, meaning we must find them in our diet. There are no essential carbohydrates, meaning we can live very happily without them.

If we were still living this way, we would be eating what was available at that time. The problem is, we now have too much CHOICE! It’s easy to choose, when the choices are leaves, snails (yes we did!) or duck. Frankly, all would have been eaten at some point as it could be eat or die. But now – oh boy! We have almost limitless choices and we can refuse to eat something, knowing that we can have something we prefer. Luxury! We can eat “out of season” and cheaply, but this means consuming less nutrients, a helping of pesticides/herbicides and foods we are not digestively designed for. All this weakens us as individuals and as the species Homo Sapiens.

The correct diet for individuals depends upon where one lives in the world. Continents have differing animal species and vegetation so when it comes to meals, of course they will be different. But the nutrients must stay the same and in similar proportions.

So when a nutritionist says everyone is different in their needs, they can only be partly right. A healthy individual requires our ancestral diet and a few other more modern foods, such as raw dairy and properly prepared grains/legumes, to make life easy. A sick person needs advice on aspects of healthy living and only our ancestral diet, in order to obtain all nutrients for healing.

Most importantly, those nutrients will be in the correct balance for Homo Sapiens.

Cancer – Can We Prevent It?

Having lost four celebrities to cancer last month, I was motivated to write this. We are all to some degree, sad at the loss of these influential people because they touched our lives. But their deaths are just a drop in the ocean. These statistics are from the Macmillan website:

  • There are now an estimated 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK, rising to 4 million by 2030
  • By 2020 almost one in two people (47%) will get cancer at some point in their lives
  • More than a thousand people will be diagnosed with cancer everyday in the UK by the end of 2016

Around 160,000 people in the UK die from cancer every year

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 I couldn’t find any statistics regarding the ages of sufferers, other than for specific cancers. However, it’s apparent that cancer diagnoses are increasing in young people. On my first ward as a student nurse in the 1970s, I remember a man who had the terminal stages of lung cancer. He was in his early 50s. I was chosen to accompany the ward sister on the consultant’s ward round whilst this gentleman was a patient and was witness to the discussion following the round. Even though they had seen cancers in people this young before, it was still uncommon to see terminal illness through cancer in someone so young. As was said at the time – “cancer is a disease of the elderly” – when the body’s usual repair functions, start to slow down and don’t work correctly. People as young as 30 are being diagnosed – and younger. What is happening?

My view is that it’s never just one thing – it’s usually several. Yes this man smoked, but so did my grandmother (like a trooper!) and she died at 83 – not surprisingly, from lung cancer. My grandmother out-lived this man by 30 years! The difference, I believe, was that my grandmother had a wonderful diet – rich in good fats and free from toxins. The 70s saw the uprising of toxic vegetable oils in preference to butter, lard and dripping. I could relate many more anecdotes, but suffice to say, that there are more anecdotes.

Can we protect ourselves? I don’t have the definitive guide to preventing cancer, but I can cut your chances:

  • Reduce your use of toxic household and personal products. Get rid of the products under your sink that have hazard warnings and try these instead.
    Use just water for showering or find some very pure organic toiletries.
  • Eat organic food – especially the things you eat daily.
  • Get some sunshine for the vitamin D3 it gives us. Read the sunshine blog.
  • Stop eating foods that cause inflammation – especially seed oils, margarine and anything loosely called “vegetable oil.” Sugar – need I say more? Remember that all carbohydrate foods provide sugar to the body (limit grains), so don’t base your diet on these. Stop smoking.
  • Some medications are vital, but in general, try to find other ways to deal with illness and discomfort. Our main source of defence against illness, our microbiome (the good bugs in our gut and on our skin) is so easily disrupted by medications. We all make rogue – or potentially cancerous – cells in our bodies every day, but a strong immune system will dismantle them. Nurture your immune system.
  • Don’t overdo anything! If you drink – have days off. If you smoke (give it up!), cut them down. If you run, (this can cause inflammation in the body if overdone), relax or meditate as well. If you must have a Big Mac, please, make it a monthly occurrence! (I can’t bring myself to say treat!)
  • Always take time for relaxation – read, meditate, take a long bath and so on. These are anti-inflammatory practices.
  • Read my guidelines for health.

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These measures will take you a long way towards protecting against cancer, but there may be others. I’ll keep you informed!

 

 

 

Nutrition For Children

My daughter’s friend works in a children’s nursery locally to me. She suggested to the manager that it might be beneficial to the parents and staff, if they had some help with planning meals for the children and understanding what nutrition means for them. As we all know, feeding children nutritious food can be challenging! The mum’s were great and I have to hand it to them, they are really doing their best. It was great to see a good turn-out too. These mums really wanted to extend their knowledge.

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The variety of nutrients for a child is the same as for an adult, but some become more important. Adults need to maintain their health but children need to grow satisfactorily. Nutrition for both is vitally important but as adults, we can change little about our structure. Children are forming their structure, so for their future health and mental development, certain nutrients are paramount.

 

There are nine essential amino acids for building bodies

Growth requires building blocks and these come from proteins and fats. Proteins are made up of amino acids and there are nine which are essential – the body cannot make them so they must be taken in the diet. There are another eleven that we need but the body can synthesize these. The essential amino acids are easily obtained from animal proteins, as they contain all nine together. Vegetarians must be aware that these are not present all together in vegetable proteins. Beans or nuts should be eaten with grains at the same meal for all to be present. Better still, dairy products and eggs should be a major part of the diet.

 

 Animal fats make hormones, line our cells and more

The fatty acids from fats are another vital component for our structure. They line our cells, supply much-needed cholesterol, contribute to our immune systems and make hormones to name a few. Quite apart from these physiological requirements, fats make food taste good. Our taste-buds have a purpose – of natural foods, they tell us what we need. Unfortunately, we can fool our taste-buds when all food groups are mixed together – as in a cake for example. They detect the fat and protein (eggs and butter) but get confused with the addition of carbohydrates (sugar and flour). That doesn’t mean we should never eat cake (perish the thought!). What we need to remember is that we can easily overeat these mixed foods, which can be detrimental to our health. If you try to overeat double cream – lovely though it is – you won’t be able to eat much or you will be sick! The body has these mechanisms in place to ensure that we stay healthy.

It is also worth remembering that butter or cheese mixed with well-cooked vegetables not only makes them taste better to a child, but also helps release nutrients and their uptake.

Animal fats contain the fat-soluble vitamins A, D3, E and K2. These vitamins work together to channel minerals into bones and teeth. They allow absorption of calcium and other minerals, direct them to the skeleton and set the minerals into the bone. All of these stages are vital. Cheese has everything needed for this process. So simple!

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Carbohydrates can be included but they are not “essential”

Carbohydrates are the food group to be wary of. They are reduced to sugar by the body for easy absorption.  Children need energy but they will get some from fats. Including a few potatoes at dinner, a couple of slices of sourdough bread (easier to digest) for lunch, or a bowl of porridge with cream in the morning is fine. Please take care though – it is easy to add too many of these foods into the diet, leaving no room for those they really need. There are no essential carbohydrates.

 

Other foods

Vegetables are always difficult for children. To be honest, if they are eating meat, liver, fish and lots of animal fats, they will come to no harm without them. However, we want to get them used to eating some as they do have lots of nutrients for us. Cook them well, add butter or cheese, make pureed soups or a frittata.

Drinks can be an issue for children. Sweet fizzy drinks should not be introduced. Milk can be great for children but please buy organic, unhomogenised or preferably raw milk if you can find it. Encourage water drinking, very weak tea or at a push, very dilute apple juice.

The sun

Not food, but still nutrition. Let children play in the sun with no sunscreen and very little clothing for a while. They must not burn, but they will get a huge dose of vitamin D3 which no food can supply. Don’t be afraid of it – if there were no sun, there would be no us. We need it!

One last word, please buy organic food whenever possible. Children do not need pesticides, herbicides, antibiotic and hormone residues. They need nutritious, fresh, preferably local foods that will only do them good, not harm.

 

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.

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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?

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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”.

 

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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.

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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.

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The Essence of Nutrition

It would be difficult to have no idea at all about nutrition and diet. Newspapers, television programmes, magazines, posters – even supermarkets – are all ramming nutrition down our throats – pun intended! As with everything, these will have a different slant depending upon what they are selling – because they are selling.

Magazines and papers will sound-bite every diet related report as long as it sells papers, so the headlines have to be punchy. “Snacking Habits That Help You Lose Weight” and file000571098509Surprise superfoods: dieticians say popcorn and pork scratchings are bursting with nutrients – and could be GOOD for you.” You know the sort of thing. Television programmes are only marginally better as at least they have a bit longer to explain their specific point. Just looking at some of the programmes available, most are about weight-loss, reaffirming the myth that calorie counting is the way to go. Supermarkets and food manufacturers will just jump on any bandwagon that is conveniently passing at the time – low-fat, low sugar, no saturated fats, low salt and so on. But where are the nutrients? Confused? Then let me inject a note of sanity here.

“What is nutrition?”
Nutrition is supplying the body with all known and unknown nutrients required for the life and health of humans.

“How do we obtain that nutrition?”
We chew, swallow, digest, absorb and utilize the diet that nature intended. All stages of this process are necessary. We eat NATURAL foods, preferably organic.

Proteins are made up of amino acids of which there are many. Animal proteins are ideal for us as they contain all the essential amino acids that we need for the growth and repair of our bodies. Vegetarians can obtain a variety of amino acids from vegetables but as there are virtually none that contain all those needed for humans, care must be taken when menu planning.  We break down millions of cells every day and these must be replaced. Proteins are also needed for the formation of enzymes, hormones and other necessary substances in the body.
Animal protein sources: meat and offal, fish, eggs, dairy; vegetable protein sources: beans, lentils, nuts,seeds

Fats are a great source of energy. Animal fats and their essential fatty acids are needed for the formulation of hormones, the lining of cells, the metabolism of protein, the absorption of minerals and much more. They also contain the fat-soluble vitamins A, D3, and K2 – all of which work together, so rather fortunate that they are usually found together in animal fats.
Animal fats: lard, dripping, duck/goose fat, butter, cream, oily fish.
The vegetable fats that have benefits for our health are olive oil (for salads) and coconut oil (stir-fries and curries). These contain chemicals which don’t conveniently fall into the vitamins and minerals category but are good for us none-the-less.
Seed oils (rape, grape, corn, sunflower, peanut or anything loosely termed “vegetable” oil are all highly processed which makes them toxic and they have no place in a healthy diet. (Eating the seeds is fine though.) Will they harm once in a while? Not if your main diet contains lots of protective animal fats.
All fats contain saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – it’s just the ratio that changes. We need them all, but eating a natural diet will supply them in just the right ratio – nature’s good like that!

Carbohydrates. First and foremost, there are no essential carbohydrates. In other words, they are not necessary for life. If you never ate another slice of bread in your life – you wouldn’t die! The metabolism of concentrated carbohydrate foods (eg. sugar and grains), uses up our essential nutrients, increasing our need for them. The body can use carbohydrates (which it changes to glucose – a type of sugar) for energy. Most of the carbohydrate foods available today are highly processed – cakes, biscuits, sweets, cereals and they don’t have any benefits for us. Since we have evolved as omnivores, some carbohydrate foods can be included with little problem but currently there is an “epidemic” of gluten intolerance, so it may be prudent to cut back on grains containing gluten – mainly wheat. The best carbohydrate foods are from vegetables and some fruits where they also have a wealth of vitamins, minerals, fibre and other nutrients.

If you eat the diet indicated above, you don’t need to think of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients because these foods supply them! It’s not rocket science is it? There are lots of articles on the website to tell you what our diet should be to obtain these nutrients. The only thing for you to do now is cook from scratch using the best ingredients you can afford!

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Is Breakfast the Most Important Meal?

Well this is a turnaround isn’t it? Breakfast is now not the most important meal according to this study! For so many years we have been told that we must have breakfast before starting our day and we have even been told that studies show how breakfast can help us lose weight, concentrate and stabilize our blood sugar. I am as guilty as many other professionals – I haven’t actually read these studies, just accepted the evidence for the most part.

In my defence, although I do read research reports, I make up my own mind about what is right for us and this is founded upon both my observations as a nurse and nutritionist and my usual way of looking at our diet and lifestyle against the back-drop of our evolutionary diet and lifestyle. There has been much research and speculation into what is right and wrong, but the bottom line is – we should do as our ancestors did. The only problem with this is that everyone has a different view of what they actually did! I have written a bit about this before so I won’t go into detail here. Suffice to say that we ate primarily meat and some vegetation when it was available. This study shows precisely this point.

What on Earth is breakfast – or lunch, tea or dinner for that matter? These are labels we have given to eating times, for our convenience. These meal times are fitted in file6401342550312before, during and after we go to work/school/college, but they are actually convenient times when we must top up our nutrients. We need vast amounts of quality nutrients for every single bodily function you can think of – blinking your eyes and producing tears; making the enzymes needed for the digestion of food; maintaining the electrical activity needed to allow your heart to beat and your muscles to contract and so on. Everything your body does, it does not do by chance. You make it happen by eating foods that supply these minerals, vitamins, fats and more.

A while ago, I wrote a blog about hunger which you can find here. It is important that we stay in touch with our bodies and really hear the message. The first thing you should be reaching for in the morning is liquid, preferably water, tea or a herbal infusion. The body detoxifies itself over night and the toxins need washing away. This could be why some people are never hungry first thing – and some even feel queasy. Hunger kicks in when the detoxing has finished. Always drink about half an hour, before you eat “breakfast”. In fact staying hydrated is one way to prevent over-eating or eating for no good reason. Drink sufficient liquid to keep your urine pale yellow – not clear which means you are drinking too much, or amber which means you are not drinking enough.

What is breakfast for you? I can hear your thought processes –
cereal, toast, eggs, file1281259008488porridge..! But what I’m getting at is what is the meaning of the word? Its literal meaning is of course, breaking one’s fast and I believe that this is the point. Why should this meal be taken before going out if you are not hungry? This study suggests that breakfast could be skipped, but it too is assuming that “breakfast” is the meal you have before your day starts.

Breakfast is the meal that breaks your fast – whenever that is. Your body very cleverly prepares itself for a meal. Once you are adequately hydrated and your body has finished its clear-up, signalling can get underway and you consciously think about food. This prepares your digestive tract – you salivate and your stomach rumbles, both of which mean that the enzymes and other chemicals needed to digest food, are ready and waiting. Absolutely the worst time to eat is whilst stressed, because this preparation stage will be omitted and indigestion ensues.

file000374824743There will be some people who wake feeling hungry. These are the people who eat very early evening, stay hydrated and don’t drink alcohol in the evening. In other words, there is less detoxifying to do so hunger is felt earlier. I know an aerobics teacher who is ravenous in the mornings and this is undoubtedly due to rapid usage of nutrients as well as early nights.

Remember that whenever you are ready to break your fast, you should provides what your body needs – essential vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats.

Some would argue carbohydrates in addition but since there are no essential carbohydrates, I don’t agree. However, the first nutrients in the list are the ones that your body is asking for and is prepared for, so make sure you provide these.

Many people will argue the time factors involved. No time in the morning for more than a piece of toast or no time to eat at ten o’clock when hunger hits. I’ve heard all the excuses and my answer is always the same – be prepared! If you cannot eat a good breakfast file0002090572764before leaving home, be prepared, as you will get hungry and you will eat something – as surely as day follows night. I am constantly amazed that work-places are completely geared for this – the coffee and doughnuts trolley materialises! There are also bakeries, sweet-shops and burger bars within close proximity. If you have a canteen at work, go and get yourself bacon and eggs!

There should be no hard and fast rules about what you eat or when as long as nutrients are supplied. If you had roasted meat for dinner the previous evening – take cold leftovers with salad or even cold vegetables with a nice creamy dressing. If you fancy an avocado to break your fast, accompany it with a few cherry tomatoes and a lump of Brie. Eggs from hens on pasture are possibly the best nutrition and the most convenient. Why not boil half a dozen and take two or three with you? Great with avocado, salad or cold asparagus. Try making a big frittata and taking a slice with you or make banana bread and take some of that. All of these suggestions will supply the necessary nutrients.

There is quite a bit of evidence that lengthening the time between your last meal of the day and the meal that breaks your fast the following morning helps with weight control and insulin sensitivity. I think it is a good idea anyway as it must emulate the eating patterns of our ancestors. Food would not have been available for “breakfast”, “lunch” and “dinner”. There may have been only one or two meals of meat or fish, with gaps occasionally filled by a few berries or nuts (in the autumn anyway) or roots, eggs, leaves and seeds. There were undoubtedly times of hunger but generally there would have been plenty of food to go around. The beauty of eating foods that we are genetically programmed for is that when properly nourished, we are less hungry.

Stop thinking of breakfast as such and instead, think of your first meal of the day as the time to supply all those nutrients that your body has told you it needs.

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