Vitamin D and Disease

Death numbers through chronic illness associated with vitamin D deficiency, are conservative in this article. There are at least twenty types of cancer now known to be associated and many other diseases. Fifty years ago vitamin D was all about  bone health – the absorption of calcium and prevention of rickets. Fifty years from now, we will know more and it will be worse – more cancers, infections, autoimmune diseases etc. Vitamin D is vital to life.

We now know that there are various forms of vitamin D (D3 being the most bio-available and D2 less so) and that this “vitamin” is a steroid hormone – not a true vitamin. As a hormone, it can penetrate virtually every cell in the body (and therefore affects every system) and influences our DNA. In other words, it is essential for life and health. It was the sun that brought us life on this planet (and a couple of other things) – and not surprisingly, the sun remains the best source of vitamin D3 but has many other health benefits too.

Vitamin D deficiency in the mother (maybe father too) affects unborn children – please read the article.

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Couple of things:
If you intend to take a supplement (always best to sunbathe and it’s free), please take vitamin D3 plus K2 as they work in tandem. (In supplements it is often D2, so check the label for “D3″.) Also make sure your magnesium intake is good. (Organic tomatoes, spinach and other green veg, avocados, fatty fish, nuts and seeds).
Our vitamin D source is SUPPOSED to come from the sun – that’s nature at work. Fortunately, we can store lots of it so we sunbathe (safely – see this post) in the summer and our D stores and food tide us over winter.
Vegetable sources of vitamin D is in the form of D2. Grazing animals can easily convert this to D3 – which is why animal sources are the best. Our ability to make this conversion is tenuous and cannot be relied upon.

Good food sources of vitamin D3 – organic wherever possible:
Eggs from pasture-raised hens (they need vitamin D too!)
Butter from grass-fed cows (and they do!)
Lard from outdoor pigs (err..see above)
Fats and offal from all outdoor animals
Full cream milk and cream (best raw)
All full cream cheeses but Brie, Gouda and some blue cheeses have K2 also.

Isn’t this the easiest “vitamin” in the world to find?

 

 

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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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!

 

 

 

The “It’s Your Life!” Show – Growing Up!

After a lifetime in nursing and five and a half years as a Clinical Nutritionist, I had an idea – a good one! The “It’s Your Life!” natural health show opened its doors at Rivermead Leisure Complex in Reading, April 2015.

My life has been all about health – it is my passion. We are a species that should be born to wellness, not illness and I have seen far too much unnecessary ill-health. As a nutritionist, I have met people who have become poorly through no fault of their own (not knowingly at least), or the fault of others who are may also have been misguided. To me, there is absolutely no point in treating anyone unless I also tell them why we’re doing what we’re doing. Education – period.

During my yoga class at Rivermead Leisure Complex in Reading in October last year, a light came on – and burned brightly! Educating people on a one-to-one basis is great, but why not get lots of people in one place, on one day and have knowledgeable, natural health and wellbeing professionals to guide these people to better health choices? An event, in fact! Taking the bull by the horns, after the class, I sought a manager. He loved the idea! I was thinking a few stands and demonstrations but when the events manager showed me the hall available – I was truly astounded! It was huge! “Oh yes,” he said. “You’ll easily get eighty stands in here.” Gauntlet thrown down!

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After a chat with my friend Isabel (Once Upon a Cook), the show was born. The main aspects of healthy life would be demonstrated as:
Moving – how we exercise
Nourishing – how we feed ourselves
Wellbeing – how we live

For the next four months, the computer and I were joined at the hip. I only wanted the best people exhibiting. Wherever possible, exhibitors would be fairly local or be selling goods online. It was important to be showcasing that which is on the doorstep in Reading.

After a many sleepless nights, I had my exhibitors. (Inspiration often visited at that time! A pencil and paper at the side of the bed was vital.) This bunch of people were bursting with enthusiasm!

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The day was fabulous. Let me say now, many years as a nurse and nutritionist does NOT make one an event organiser! I made mistakes and lessons have been learned. Nonetheless, from the feedback forms, it seems that the visitors had a great time. The feedback from the exhibitors was that they had done well and had loved being in a hall with so many like-minded people – I couldn’t agree more! Most of the exhibitors will be back for the next show.

 

From the visitors
“Exceeded expectations – absolutely brilliant!”
“Brilliant! Really enjoyed myself!”
“Two days needed!”
“It’s perfect, but more stalls!”

From the exhibitors
“Excellent for the first time”
“First time – we’re impressed!”
“A good quality event”
“Great to meet like-minded people!”
“We had a blast!” (read testimonial here)

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Planning has begun for the next event in Reading. It will be bigger and better! I have been approached by several more companies who would like to exhibit in November. There will be more healthy food stands, more holistic therapists, some exciting new skin products and it is a great place for your Christmas shopping! Join us:

NOVEMBER 22ND  RIVERMEAD LEISURE COMPLEX, READING 10 – 4 PM

AND, the It’s Your Life! show will be in Birmingham in the new year, hosted by Isabel Natrins of Once Upon a Cook… Food wisdom, Better Living!

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.

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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!

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Photographs courtesy of Kathryn Fell Photography

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.

 

“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.

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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: http://yourgoodhealth-naturally.co.uk/my-guidelines-for-health/

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!

3)      In order that “healthy” and “unhealthy” foods can be compared, these must have been packaged. 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!

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I have to refer back 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.

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.

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What on Earth is a Superfood?

What on Earth is a superfood? Is it a Teenage Mutant Ninja Sausage? Or maybe a sandwich that leaps between buildings in a single bound? Silly I know, but so is the notion that any one food can be a “superfood”.

A while ago, I saw a headline stating that eating almonds every day can protect your heart against disease. I have seen that broccoli can fight cancer and I have seen any amount of health claims for kale and blueberries. Others include – goji berries, oily fish, cacao, maca, and beetroots – the list goes on. These are good foods to include in our diets and they contain antioxidants (but so do many other foods) but they are not “superfoods” because there are none! There are good and bad diets though. These “superfoods” are liberally and continually splashed over magazines and newspapers. What is the purpose of these articles – what are they trying to achieve?

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To be fair, some of these articles are just trying to get people to eat better but doing it this way is, in my opinion, a waste of time or falls on deaf ears. Why would adding blueberries to an otherwise poor diet contribute to good health? Most articles are featured by the media just to get you to buy their newspaper/magazine and some are to get you to buy a supplement – eg.beetroot juice.

Nutrition for us comes in the form of nutrients (sorry for being pedantic) contained in our diet. There are many known nutrients but there are also some unknowns. We keep discovering “new” nutrients in foods, but this being the case means that we must eat the foods in order to obtain them – ie. not from supplements. Another thing that is always conveniently glossed over, (I’m being kind here as I suspect that this is not as widely known as it should be), is that nutrients in plants are not always bio-available to us – we can’t utilize them. Bear in mind that our digestive systems are very different from the herbivores – they are uniquely equipped to digest vegetation. We have a digestive system similar to that of a carnivore, telling us that we can more readily absorb and utilize nutrients from meat. Of course, as we are evolving as omnivores, it is fine and possibly desirable to eat plants – there are nutrients in plants that we can use – I am not saying we shouldn’t be eating some of them.

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Let’s look at some of these “superfoods”.

Kale is a real buzzword at the moment. I am seeing countless recipes for raw kale in smoothies and salads.  It used to be just grown for fodder, but someone decided we should consume it too, so it became a great winter vegetable when there was little else (no doubt why there is a variety named “Hungry Gap”). No problem – it needs lots of cooking as it is quite tough and fibrous, but its strong earthy flavour is liked by many and there are some nutrients to be had – minerals especially. Raw? Not a chance – you try it! Your taste-buds tell you what your digestive system can cope with!

Beetroot is very popular at the moment. It is a historic food but not a pre-historic food. It is a relative of “sea-beet”, from which all other “beet” varieties stem. The leaves were eaten and used in medicine long before the root had a use. The root was probably not in general use until around the 14th century. Again, some nutrients are available but beetroot is sweet – and can contain up to 10% sugar! A few years ago, an article on beetroot juice told of heart health benefits. I know of someone who took himself off his heart medication and instead, drank a pint of beetroot juice daily. He made himself very ill indeed.

Goji berries are not native to Europe and are grown commercially in China – where they have become big business. Many minerals and vitamins can be present but aren’t always unless organic methods are used. They are a member of the solanaceae family – which also includes tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and all members of the nightshade family – including “deadly”! Whilst most of us can tolerate the food plants, the presence of toxic alkaloids are present in all these plants to a degree and they are poorly tolerated by people with certain chronic illnesses. Goji berries are highly susceptible to pests and will usually contain considerable amounts of pesticide residues. If you are going to use them, always buy organic.

Remember – the nutrients may be there but some may be useless to us. I am not suggesting that their inclusion in your diet is wrong but don’t rely on them to supply all that which your body requires – cos that ain’t happening! This is worth a read if you want to understand plant foods better and this if you want to learn the traditional methods of making plant foods more human-friendly.

Just by way of a comparison, organic pasture reared meat – offal and all – contains all nutrients needed for human health and they are in exactly the correct form that we can absorb and utilize them. Pesticide and drug-free to boot. And for those now wondering where the vitamin C is – organ meats contain vitamin C but please don’t overcook them.Spring Lambs

My advice – eat mostly foods that are native to your country of origin; eat vegetables and fruit in season; buy organically produced fruit and veg or grow your own; process foods in your kitchen according to tradition to increase their nutritional value; find a source of raw milk and dairy; eat animal fat; eat nuts and seeds in moderation and if you eat grain, treat it properly; meat and eggs should be from pasture raised animals. Eat small fish and shellfish. For other health measures, see my Healthy Life guidelines.

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