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?

 

 

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!

 

 

 

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.

 

No Salt? No Life!

Hundreds of millions of years ago, an ocean existed on Earth allowing the creation of life. The planet was changing in the same way as it had over billions of years. Not instantly but over millennia – seas, mountains and volcanoes came and went, forming Earth into what it is today.

Himalayan crystal salt At a time when the land was growing hotter this ocean gradually dried out, forming vast plateaus of minerals in the form of rock salt. Not just the sodium chloride that we buy in supermarkets, but most of the minerals to be found in our world – in pristine condition. As the earth constantly moved, the pre-Cambrian ocean was subjected to enormous pressure as the Himalayas were formed. This action created crystal from rock and the Himalayas have nurtured the crystal for around 250,000,000 years. It is clean, pure and completely uncontaminated – this is Himalayan crystal salt.

Life can only be brought into existence when water is added to salt so in storage, it will not support microbial life. When you add it to your food you are replenishing the minerals that the body loses naturally each day (and bear in mind how depleted the soil has become from over-farming) and you are adding them exactly as nature intended. It has been said that when some primitive life-forms crawled out of the sea, in order to live, they had to take the sea with them – in their simple circulatory systems. That would be us then! Himalayan crystal salt appears an attractive pink colour – this may be due to the range of minerals present or possibly the remains of the harmless salt-loving algae that lived in the primordial sea.

In nature today, some animals will travel miles to lick natural salt – they instinctively know that they need it. Even domestic animals are given “salt licks” as it is known that they need the extra minerals it provides. If you consider it, an animal would only take something offered, if it was needed, so perhaps we should do the same. In fact, I give “salt licks” to some of my clients who are for whatever reason, poorly nourished. I just supply them with a Himalayan crystal salt lump and tell them to lick it whenever and for however long they need to. (Do not do this with other salt.) If you use the right stuff, you would be hard-pushed to consume too much because your body would tell you “enough is enough”.

When minerals are taken like this they act together to rid the body of toxins, balance fluid retention and excretion and equalize acidity and alkalinity. They are needed for the essential electrical conductivity in heart and other muscle and in nerves. They are vital for the proper formation and function of stomach acid and enzymes and much more. We should get all these minerals from our food but so much of our soil is exhausted and the produce of this land will be lacking too.

Himalayan Crystal Salt is regarded as gourmet salt and is highly prized by some of our leading chefs (Jamie Oliver for one).This may boost salt’s reputation but basic as it maybe, it is a food, ie something which if ingested helps promote healthy life. Fortunately, the salt mines are enormous and salt will be mined in the Himalayas for several hundreds of years yet.

Celtic grey salt is also very good and has a slightly different mineral profile – less of some and more of others. As it is damp, there is more iodine which is essential for thyroid function. It does not grind as well as Himalayan salt, so use it in cooking and leave the Himalayan salt for the grinder. Sprinkling these on your food has to be THE best way to ensure that you obtain some of all the minerals that you need for health.  Rather than just adding saltiness, they enhance the natural flavours – and it’s much cheaper and safer than taking pills!

Both of these natural salts are available online, health food stores or organic shops.

“Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea”– Pythagoras 580 – 500BC

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The Life-Giving Sun

Well summer does seem to be here doesn’t it? One day of sun and a thunderstorm! It’s all good – nature needs both and frankly, so do we. The sun gives us huge amounts of vitamin D3 amongst other things.

I am still largely opposed taking supplements of vitamin D3. I have written many times about the problems with taking supplements and maintain my stance. Buying them is fraught because we don’t know how they have been made or whether they contain what they are supposed to contain and even if they do, whether it’s in the right form for humans to absorb! It is just too costly and complicated

We need the sun for our lives

Let’s take the benefits of the sun. Everyone knows that the sun makes vitamin D3 in our file000336228048(1)skins. Just think about that for a moment. Isn’t it absolutely astounding? This is just one example of how we are dependent upon our environment. (There are many others but I’ll save them for another time.) We need the sun for our lives – literally in every sense. We cannot survive without it and we become sick if deprived of it. We would not be here without the sun – and neither would anything else. It is vital that we appreciate and accept this fact. Our to-date evolution, over hundreds of thousands of years has depended upon the sun more than anything else. Most other factors in life have alternatives or can be foregone for a while.

..we have an epidemic of diseases associated with vitamin D deficiency

There is much evidence that certain diseases are more prevalent the further north in the hemisphere one looks. But we have lived in these places for many thousands of years and these diseases were not prevalent in our ancestors. “Modern” diseases are to be evidenced from remains that are less than 10,000 years old – giving grounds for the popular belief that these illnesses started during the time when we became farmers and had more permanent forms of shelter. Personally, I doubt that many of these illnesses were due to lack of sun exposure – we were very much outdoor people at this time. Their health change was more to do with their rapidly changing diet but as time continued, even more permanent buildings were constructed and much work was done indoors.

Even in the last couple of hundred years or so, we spent much time outside – walking (to get from one place to another, not necessarily for pleasure), farming, gardening and doing all those other necessary jobs that involve us stepping outside the house. Not anymore. Bringing it bang up to date, we travel to our place of work by car where we then enter an artificially lit, windowed building which allows no UVB light to enter. We travel home by car and spend the rest of the day inside. For many, the main source of UVB light is once a year on holiday. And then what do we do? Smother ourselves in sunscreen! We are in real trouble. Now, here in the northern hemisphere, we have an epidemic of diseases associated with vitamin D deficiency – and it is true – the further north you look, the more of these diseases you find.

How we obtained our vitamin D through pre-history

If you accept that we originated in Africa about 100,000 years ago and migrated northwards, you will also understand that at this time our skins were dark which protected us from the relentless equatorial sun whilst still allowing us to obtain the benefits. The northward journey took time – no jumping on Easyjet and arriving a few hours later! It possibly took thousands of years to inhabit the most northerly areas. Remember that at this time the Asia and Europe we know now, didn’t exist and the countries were merged making the migration easier.

As we very gradually moved northwards, our skins lightened. Why do think that was? In order that we could still benefit from the now much weaker and less reliable UVB rays from the sun! Our skins had to lighten in order to scavenge these less frequent rays at a much quicker rate than our African cousins – and the further north you live – the paler your skin will be and the faster you will get your dose of vitamin D! So, given that we need the same levels of vitamin D, the same amount can be obtained in just a few minutes if your recent ancestry is Scottish, a bit longer if you’re English but much longer if you are dark-skinned and living in Africa!

Vitamin D3 is not really a vitamin. It is a pre-steroid hormone and as such, can affect your DNA (unlike true vitamins). My take on this, is that many of the diseases that we label as genetic may in fact be acquired. Chronic vitamin D deficiency can be passed to our offspring. I have lots of reasons for believing this but one factor that I have come across many times when I am asking people about their health, is the “Welsh Tale” as I have named it. If someone has several generations of miners in their family, there is more risk of disease in that person. I’m sure you get the connection. Another scenario which is well documented is that of recent immigrants (within a few generations) to the northern hemisphere. It is this group of people who are the sickest in the western world – more diabetes, heart disease, obesity etc. Whilst there is a dietary factor, there is also a lack of vitamin D from the sun. Life is indoors and even if some time is spent in the sun, it is rarely enough for vitamin D to form. Each generation does seem to have lighter skin even if both parents are dark-skinned – nature knows what has to be done, but this takes time.

Sunbathe!

To prevent vitamin D deficiency, we must sunbathe. It must be taken like medicine. If the sun is high in the sky and your shadow is shorter than you are tall, the UVB rays are reaching Earth. Depending on your skin colour, sunbathe as near to naked as possible for as long as it takes your skin to go pink. Not red. When this has been achieved, cover up, use sunscreen (try to find a non-toxic one or use coconut oil which offers a little protection) or go indoors.

Don’t use soap/shower gel for at least 24 hours as this will remove the skin oils that contain the vitamin D. Use just water on the main parts and maybe just a little soap where you feel you must. Moisturise your skin with something natural such as coconut oil. With this amount of sun exposure you can make up to 20,000 IU of vitamin D but your body will stop the manufacture when it has sufficient to deal with. This takes 24 – 48 hours – then you can go out and make some more! You won’t find this quantity in a supplement and indeed, if you took this amount, it would be harmful.

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Since the fat-soluble vitamins work together, make sure you get plenty of vitamins A and K2 as well. Cheese is a good source especially Brie and Gouda.

Vitamin D is just one reason why we need the sun but there are others. For example, there is evidence that we need it for energy – just like plants. Lots of people feel energised when in the sun. Also, UV light through our eyes regulates our Circadian rhythms, thus helping us sleep. There will be more evidence to come I feel quite sure. Here is another article about the effects the sun has on us.

I have written about it before, but for completeness, I will give you a run-down of the diseases that seem (research is showing) to be related to vitamin D deficiency: around twenty types of cancer; diabetes; depression; heart disease; bone abnormalities; auto-immune diseases; infections. More about vitamin D3 here.

This is one way to boost your health enormously – it’s all of the above and more – and you can do it for free! Now what are you doing here? Outside you go!

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Walking Barefoot, Grounding or Earthing

This word “grounding” has meant many things to me over the years but recently (in the last few years) has come to mean a specific and deliberate action to improve health. It is also known as earthing – which makes sense as we are talking about electricity.

We lose sight of the fact that we don’t just live in the world; we are a part of the world. We are influenced by so many things – all our food comes from the earth one way or another, the sunshine (without which, life as we know it, would not exist) creates a valuable nutrient in our skin and determines our circadian rhythm. The menstrual cycle is also governed by the universe – the words month and moon having the same origin.

file7411336412042So, if we accept that we are here courtesy of the world and universe, it makes sense that these entities look after us too or what is the point of existence? This could get deep so I’ll move on!

We are electrical beings. Without electricity our hearts would not beat, our muscles would not contract and our senses would not work. In order to maintain these important functions, we are dependent upon certain minerals that have negative and positive charges – potassium, calcium, sodium and chloride. For various reasons, (radio waves, certain foods, body functions and more) we end up with more positive ions than negative therefore the equilibrium is upset. Excess positive ions can lead to many health problems – both   physical (resulting from inflammation) and mental, such as depression.

Earth – the planet – has a negative charge and if you walk barefoot on the ground, you can absorb huge amounts of negative ions. Think about it; how much better do you feel after a holiday? We are often barefoot much of the time, we also boost our vitamin D levels (possibly less so if you are skiing!) and we relax more. We return feeling revitalised. These ions also have a great anti-inflammatory effect – thus protecting us from many ills.

So – how to do this. Kick off your shoes and wander around in the garden. Damp grass is a good conductor as is sand. Concrete is OK as long as there isn’t a “skin” under it. Leather-soled shoes will keep you in touch even if you are out and about, but rubber soles will not. Wood will not allow the ions through and neither will roads and pavements. If you are wearing leather-soled shoes, cut across the park to work!

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Alzheimer’s – the Disease That Wrecks Lives

file000691888818Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia which is characterised by poor short term memory, irritability, confusion and sometimes aggression. The condition wrecks families and care homes are now bursting at the seams with residents suffering this condirion. Something must be done and whilst the news tells us that a drug maybe on the way, it is prevention that will ultimately have the most impact.

 

In AD the brain shrinks and it is unable to utilize the glucose it needs to function. Plaques of amyloid, a protein, are evident in the brain and this may be associated with a poor diet as AD is more often diagnosed in people who are obese.

There has been much speculation on the origins of the disease, but that aside, as it is becoming more prevalent – even in middle age, it would be safe to assume that our modern lives have something to do with this. So what in particular could be driving this increase?

1) There is conflicting evidence regarding aluminium. Our bodies do not require aluminium so it would seem a good idea to avoid it wherever possible.
2) Look at these facts:
- There is evidence that the brain makes its own insulin
- Obese people are more likely to be diagnosed with AD
- An anti-diabetic drug has been shown to help dementia

It would seem that this brain change has, at least to some degree, a dependence on sugar. Sugar promotes insulin in the blood and if an excess is taken in the diet (that is, all carbohydrates not just the white stuff) over a lifetime, insulin sensitivity results and obesity and diabetes follow. Maybe AD too.
3) Continuing on from the previous point, since the other fuels that our bodies can use are fat and ketones (a fat bi-product and one that can be used by the brain), it is essential that if we cut one fuel source then we must give our bodies another. Animal fats and coconut oil should be included in the diet.
4) The B vitamins have much to do with nerve function and the most important of these (due to its complex metabolism in the body) is vitamin B12.
5) Vitamin D deficiency is at epidemic proportions in the Western World. This study shows that it may contribute to AD.
6) Insufficient exercise maybe a causative factor, but it is unclear whether it is due to its balancing effect on blood sugar or the exercise itself that helps.

The above are the most plausible possible causes of AD but this is not an exhaustive list.

To me there is only one way to tackle Alzheimer’s Disease and that is to prevent it in the first place. Here are my recommendations:

  1. To avoid an excess of aluminium, use steel or glass cooking pots and opt for a deodorant rather than an antiperspirant – or just use soap and water.
  2. To keep blood sugar down and balanced, cut carbohydrate consumption. Foods to limit are sweet foods, bread, cereals and other foods made from grains.
  3. Including plenty of animal fats in the diet will provide a good source of fuel, fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins. Yellow butter, cream, egg yolks, fatty cuts of meat and oily fish (for Omega 3) will provide this. Coconut oil is also helpful in not just warding off AD but as a treatment for it.
  4. Shellfish and offal are good sources of vitamin B12 but many people nowadaysfile0001122917150 do not consume these foods on a regular basis. Experiment with pates, adding a little chopped liver to casseroles and Bolognese sauce or just frying with onions in plenty of butter. Folate and B12 work together so serve that liver with kale, sprouts or cabbage! Organic, pastured egg yolks are good for B12 too.
  5. Getting out in the sun and eating animal fats will supply your vitamin D.
  6. Even just frequent brisk walking will do for exercise, but find something you enjoy doing and you are more likely to stick with it.

I think it is possible to reverse AD to some degree with the measures above, but by employing them now, you dramatically lower your chances of developing it in the first place.

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Acne – The Most Common Skin Disease in the Western World

The skin problem Acne Vulgaris is another condition of several combined factors – hormones, diet, infection, over-production of sebum (our skin oil) and possibly the way we wash. There may be others too.

1146989_45040779It is probably brought about by diet (although there are drugs and medical conditions that can cause acne, but they are rare).  Your diet and your health are inextricably linked and just being told “it’s your age and you’ll grow out of it” – is nonsense. Also, people well into their middle-age can suffer from acne – including me. In fact I had acne well into my 40s. It disappeared when I drastically changed my diet and my skin

So what of these other factors? Testosterone over-production is one (men and women produce this hormone). As we know acne is common in teenagers and this is the very time when hormones are buzzing. Interestingly, teenage acne is uncommon amongst primitive people eating a natural hunter-gatherer diet and very common in the Western World and countries with similar lifestyles.

Another factor is the bacteria on our skin. We are absolutely heaving with bacteria – both inside and out! Normally these live in harmony with each other and with us in fact we would not live long without them. Unfortunately, antibiotics are often prescribed for acne and whilst these may help temporarily, the protective bacteria may also be destroyed ensuring the condition returns.

Since “we are what we eat” it stands to reason that if you are eating a lot of foods that are not ideal, that your body fluids and structures will alter over time. The sebum (oil) in your skin will be not only over-produced but chemically changed.  Opportunist bacteria – that is the ones that don’t contribute to our health – see their chance to move in and create havoc, in this case – causing acne.

Yet another factor is indirectly to do with the sun as we make vitamin D from skin oils reacting with sunlight (the UVB rays). You may not be surprised to learn that vitamin D is needed for our immunity and for the production of hormones! Just a few thousand years ago we lived pretty much outside and our vitamin D levels would always have been high, very similar in fact, to primitive people now. We live and work indoors, use cars for transport and slather on high factor sunscreen before venturing outside. The Western World now has an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. There is also some evidence that shows that the action of a moderate amount of sunlight directly on to acne-affected skin can improve the condition.

There are many medications for acne, but in my opinion, they only work temporarily and can damage our gut bacteria. A natural approach is a better option and these are my recommendations:
1) Adopt a low-carbohydrate diet which contains animal fats and not seed oils. Eat plenty of vegetables and eggs too. A low fat diet will not help and may make the condition worse.
2) Wash your skin twice a day only with a very mild, preferably unscented and un-perfumed skin-wash or better still use jojoba oil to cleanse. Lightly massage in, remove with tissue then wipe gently with a clean, damp cloth. This is very effective, as jojoba oil has a similar chemical profile to sebum and can dissolve it and remove grime at the same time. Add a drop of tea tree oil to the jojoba oil sometimes.
3) Get some sun!

This is not an overnight solution but changing your diet will, within a month for most people, show real benefits.

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