Welcome to the next in the series on nutrients the body needs to be health.
I am going to cover one of the essential B vitamins today; B2 – Riboflavin, but before I do that I would like to just make some comment about food trends, especially those that are dictated by governmental ‘experts’
In the 1980s, the government introduced new health guidelines that included a reduction of fats in the populations diet. They pushed for a higher percentage of carbohydrates which at the time were predominantly refined, white flour goods. Little distinction was made between healthy fats (they didn’t know enough about it themselves) and unhealthy fats. It was an across the board slashing of one of the most important nutrients, especially for our brain health. Instead we were encouraged to buy low-fat alternatives that the industrial food producers were only too happy to manufacture. Low-fat on a label meant chemically produced trans fats and much more refined white sugar to improve flavour. The calories were usually exactly the same, and as we consumed more white carbohydrates, the obesity and diabetic epidemics were launched.
Then cholesterol came under attack with guidelines to eat eggs sparingly and to not eat avocados or any other fat that they said induced cholesterol overload and too much of the LDL (low density lipoprotein) which leads to small particles that clump in the arteries. They then embarked on a programme to put as many middle-aged men and women on statins as possible and drive the total cholesterol down even further.
The trouble is cholesterol is a natural substance in our bodies and is involved in a number of crucial functions.. including brain health and the manufacturing of protective hormones. So not only in middle-age are your hormones reducing naturally, you are eliminating one of the elements to drive them down even further.
Now of course they have done a 180 and recommended that we consume healthy fats and drop carbohydrates.. Again without the added proviso that whole grains in moderation are also a necessary part of the diet for its fibre and B-vitamins.
My philosophy has remained the same. Everything in moderation.
I do not mind if you are a meat eater, only eat fish, are vegetarian or vegan. If you do give up a food group, then I do recommend that you also look at what nutrients you will be removing from your diet at the same time, and find an alternative source for them, which does not mean automatically reaching for a supplement.
This is the purpose behind these posts. To share with you how just one nutrient can have a long term impact of your general health and longevity.
I have more information on some of the alternatives that are available if you do decide to give up dairy and meats such as offal.
First a look at this week’s nutrient which together with the other B Vitamins is essential for our health. Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin
Like the other B vitamins, B2 plays an important role in energy production by ensuring the efficient metabolism of the food that we eat in the form of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It plays a key role in our nutritional processes such as its help in processing amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, which is the substance that we are made of. Twenty amino acids are needed to build the various different proteins used in the growth, repair and maintenance of our body tissues and whilst eleven of these are made by the body itself, the others must be obtained from our diet and processed by other agents including B2.
The role of B2 in the uptake of iron
Research into anaemia has highlighted the role of B2 in the body’s inability to manufacture red blood cells. There are two areas that would appear to be particularly critical. One is the vitamin’s role in mobilising iron from storage to the cells and secondly that a deficiency prevents the efficient absorption of iron.
Vitamin B2 is a vitamin that is essential for metabolising carbohydrates to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate) without which we would be totally lacking in energy. It also works with enzymes in the liver to eliminate toxins, which helps keep us clear of infection.
B2 is needed to change B6 and Folic Acid into an active and usable form so that our nervous system is protected. Folic acid is essential for healthy cell division and is needed before and during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy to help prevent birth defects. B2 is also part of the process that changes tryptophan, so important to our mental wellbeing, into niacin.
Our bodies have an extremely complex chemical operating system and it is synergistic. It is rare for one of the chemical components to work in isolation and it usually requires a reaction to occur to achieve a function. For example B2 is needed to recycle the vital antioxidant Glutathione in its oxidised state (after it has done its job to detoxify the unstable free radicals) into reduced Glutathione so it can go back and do the job again.
Other areas where B2 is essential.
Without sufficient B2 we would not have healthy skin, nails and hair and our thyroid function can be compromised
B2 works in conjunction with B1, B3 and B6 and as a supplement is more usually taken as part of a B complex. Incidences of deficiency are low but are more prevalent in alcoholics and has been found in people suffering from cataracts or sickle cell anaemia. It is more likely to be a problem in developing countries where there has been some link to pre-eclampsia in pregnant women.
Sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome, the main symptom being lack of energy, are often deficient in the B vitamins and again B2 would be included as part of a B-complex supplement.
Other areas where eating foods rich in B2 may be helpful are with migraines, headaches, cataracts, rheumatoid arthritis, anaemia and also skin conditions such as acne.
The vitamin is water-soluble and cannot be stored in the body except in very small amounts so needs to be replenished from diet every day.
Dairy products are one of the main sources of Vitamin B2.
You will see a number of articles on the toxic components in milk products in comparison to prepared soy, nut and other milks touted as the healthier option. Man has been drinking the milk of sheep, goats and cows for many thousands of years and you can be sure they got more than milk when they did, including the bacteria from their own unwashed hands as they milked the animal.
My stand on dairy products is you get what you pay for and if you insist on buying the cheapest possible milk and other dairy products you are encouraging the practice of mass farming. I like my milk to come from cows that live an outdoor life, eat grass and line-up of their own accord when it is time to hit the milking parlour.
Having said that in most of our countries there are vigorous testing and processing stages in place to minimise the toxic content of what we eat and drink. I am not naive and know that the various sectors of the food industry will spin whatever story is necessary to get us to buy their product in favour of a competitor; but being an informed consumer means doing your own research.
Here is an article on milk you might like to read and then one on the promoted health benefits of drinking the alternatives.
If I was to use an alternative it would not be soy-milk but rice milk. The only proviso with rice milk is if you are diabetic or at risk of diabetes and you can find out more in the link.
Over the last twenty years there has been a move away from the offal meats that used to be so popular such as liver and kidney. Again I prefer to buy organic and we certainly eat from time to time. The main issue with liver is that it is both the waste organ of an animal and also the body’s storage facility which makes it a strong tasting meat as well as making it unpopular with many who feel it is gross to eat organ meat.
Here is an informative article from Dr. Mercola. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/30/eating-organ-meats.aspx
It is a rich source of B Vitamins and if you do eat meat then I recommend that you go to a butcher that sells organic organ meats or a farm shop and buy from that source. You will find good amounts of Vitamin B2 in lamb, beef and oily fish such as mackerel.
This is another rich B vitamin food source that has suffered in recent years from bad press. At various times eggs have been blamed for increased cholesterol, salmonella and other diseases. The cholesterol theory has been debunked and with the screening now available within the high end of the egg industry; it is rare to find infected eggs.
It is also to remember that if you have a strong immune system, promoted by a healthy diet your body is designed to deal with a level of toxins in our food very effectively. It is only the very young and elderly, or those who have compromised immune systems that are at risk.
Again I am against factory farming particular of chickens to I am very happy to pay more for this highly nutritious food. It is a powerhouse and contains healthy amounts of not only B vitamins but also protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Selenium and phosphorus. I eat one a day and as an alternative to meat and fish regularly during the week.
This is another of my daily foods and whilst it is again a trend to exclude all grains from the diet I strongly disagree. I cannot tolerate white, packaged bread that has been industrially produced. Not because it has the natural wheat included but because it does not. It has a heavily refined white flour that has been added to by various chemically enhanced additives and sugar. If I eat fresh home-baked soda bread made with wholegrain flour or even the supermarket bakery baguettes; I don’t have a problem.
The same with rice. I would not touch refined cheap white rice as it has lost all its nutrients in the processing and some have even been added back artificially to give it a ‘healthy’ appeal. We use Basmati wholegrain rice which is a slow burning fuel, low on the Glycemic Index and full of nutrition including the B vitamins. If you would like to know more about the Glycemic index of foods here is the link:
Other food sources for B2
You can get B vitamins from vegetarian sources and in particular dark green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. You can include Soybeans but again I would pay extra and buy guaranteed non-genetically modified products. Also there are good amounts in asparagus, mushrooms and almonds.
Chopping and cooking can destroy over 75% of the vitamin content of green vegetables. Step one is not to buy fresh greens that have been pre-cut and packaged. They might be more convenient but by the time it gets to your pot after several days it will have lost at least 50% of its nutritional content. Then if you overcook much of the rest will disappear into the water.
Buy the vegetables whole, eat raw or steam. Buying good quality frozen vegetables is another alternative but again most have been chopped before freezing.
A little bit about me nutritionally.
A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.
All available in Ebook from: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2
And Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6
Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4: http://www.moyhill.com/html/just_food_for_health.html
Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is email@example.com. I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally