Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name – Clive – The Debt by Sally Cronin

I continue with the stories from my collection What’s in a Name?

What's in a Name? new cover

Clive – The Debt

The boy stirred in his cot and waved his chubby fist in the air. The mid-afternoon sun was barred from his room by the rattan blinds at the window. The slowly moving blades of the fan above his cot sent a welcome and cooling breeze across his hot skin. The rest of the house was quiet, except for the gentle snoring of his amah as she dozed fitfully on the pallet on the other side of the room.

The boy was called Clive and was the fourth child and first son of a naval officer and his wife who were stationed here in Trincomalee. He was three years old and his curly blonde hair now lay slick against his scalp as he recovered from the fever. It had been a worrying few days with the doctor calling in every few hours to check on his condition. The household, including his three older sisters and his parents, were exhausted having had little sleep for the last few nights.

Measles in this climate could be very dangerous for a child Clive’s age and he had been restricted to his cot in the darkened room to prevent the risk of blindness. Thankfully his fever had now broken, and the family having enjoyed their Sunday curry lunch, had retired to their bedrooms to sleep the afternoon away beneath their ceiling fans.

Clive had been woken every hour or so to sip his favourite fruit juice and water from his beaker and the doctor was now happy he was past his crisis. But, the child was now hungry and the lingering smell of the chicken curry that the family had consumed at lunchtime drifted into the room.

Relieved that her charge was out of danger but extremely tired, his devoted amah had failed to latch the side of Clive’s cot securely. Seeing that there was a means of escape; he lifted his body up into a sitting position and swung his bare legs over the side of the mattress. It was easy enough to slide down onto the stone floor with its fibre matting where he held onto the side of the cot for a few minutes; his legs wobbling beneath him. But he was a strong little boy who spent hours on his tricycle and swam most days and this was evident in his recovery from this recent illness. Of course his growing hunger was a great motivator.

Carefully he moved across the matting intent on seeing if his friend the family cook had a special plate of his favourite mild curry and banana. He moved into the hall but was disappointed that the door to the kitchen was firmly closed and the handle was out of reach of his eager fingers.

The door to the long veranda however was much easier to open and Clive pushed his way through into the stifling heat and the raucous sound of the monkeys in the trees in the garden. He loved the little macaques and often sat on the veranda in the cooler mornings and watched them play fight over the ripened fruit. He drifted across the wooden floor and down the two steps onto the dusty path. He was now in uncharted territory.

There were many dangers for humans in these luscious surroundings. Clive was accompanied everywhere by his amah or his sisters when out of sight of his protective mother. Several times he had been scooped up and rushed indoors accompanied by shrieks and calls for the houseboy to bring a stick.

Cobras were common; as were the larger less playful monkeys that could be as big as dog. The first lesson that Clive had received after he had taken his first steps, was not to touch anything with fur, as rabies ravaged both the wild creatures and domesticated dogs.
With the fearlessness of a three year old, he toddled down the dry dusty path until he reached a line of ants that were busy carrying leaves several times the size of their bodies across the dry earth. Fascinated Clive sat down on the ground and followed their progress with one little plump finger.

Eyes were watching him from various vantage points in the overgrown garden. The small macaques ceased their play fights and spotted that the door to the house had been left ajar. This was as good as an invitation and a dozen of the petty thieves scampered down their favourite tree and darted along the edge of the dry lawn and through the bushes beneath the veranda. In seconds they were through the open door looking for food and mischief.

In the branches of a tall evergreen, a large male langur watched his smaller cousins disappear and waited to see if they would emerge with anything worth stealing from them. He had more sense than to risk the wrath of a house boy armed with a broom. Then something else caught his eye in the bushes to the side of the lawn. He stared for several moments trying to find the cause of his disquiet. His attention was then drawn to the chortling of the child as he played in the dry dust with the ants.

Something was wrong and the langur’s instincts caused him to move cautiously to the end of the branch that stretched out over the lawn. There was the movement again and this time he saw the hooded head standing tall surrounded by the red blossoms of the rose bush. Slowly the cobra slithered from its hiding place and moved gracefully across the bleached grass towards the oblivious child.

Clive became bored with watching the ants and his hunger reminded him that the cook might be in the kitchen. If so, then his favourite sweet treats that were slipped to him occasionally behind his mother’s back, might be on offer. Placing his hands firmly in front of him he pushed his bottom into the air and then stood unsteadily for a moment. A movement in the corner of his eye made him turn his head and he found himself just feet away from the swaying hood of the cobra. Without someone to sweep him up into safe arms and rush him inside the house he was minutes away from certain death.

In those precious seconds as the boy and snake stared at each other there was a sudden and violent interruption. The large langur launched himself from the branch of the tree landing a few feet from them. Without a moment’s hesitation the monkey raced across and grabbed the tail end of the cobra. With one sweep of his powerful arm he swung the snake around towards the bushes several feet away and let it go.
For one moment the child and the monkey looked into each other’s eyes and Clive raised his hand as if he understood that his saviour meant him no harm.

At that moment shrieks and angry shouts erupted from the open door to the house and the troop of macaques raced out with their trophies of chapatti and trifle filling their hands. Behind them with an agility that belied his age was the irate cook wielding a large kitchen knife. Under cover of the confusion the langur headed rapidly to his tree to resume his watch.

The cook seeing Clive still standing on the path called out for his amah to come quickly and within moments the child was safe in loving arms and being hugged and kissed.
Soon the whole family congregated on the veranda and reviewed the damages to house and the theft of the left overs with a welcome pot of tea. None the wiser about their youngest child’s close encounter with nature, they watched as Clive ate a bowl of home-made ice-cream.

Present Day.

The tall silver haired man drove up and parked at the back of the large manufacturing plant. He got out and opened the back of the van and approached the double steel doors and rang the bell to the side of them. A disjointed voice requested his name and after a moment the buzzer indicated that the door was open.

Inside in the dim cool the man walked up to a reception desk and was taken through to a holding area where six large wooden crates were waiting. Having lifted the lids of the boxes and checked contents, the man signed numerous pieces of paper. Two burly porters helped carry the crates out to the van where they were carefully placed and secured for the journey.

Four hours later the van arrived at a location deep in the countryside and having called ahead, several people stood clustered around the large open gates. Clive sighed with relief and drove through and backed the van close into a large wooden building.

The contents of the van were unloaded and the crates carefully carried inside. The markings were clear in the dim light from the outside lights at the entrance.

Contrux Pharmaceuticals.

Clive and his team gently lifted the sleeping occupants of the crates out and placed them in individual stalls lined with straw and soft bedding. They would be carefully watched by them in turns for the next few days around the clock. They would be fed and given water as well as checked out by the resident vet. It would take weeks, if not months, to rehabilitate these primates who had been born within a laboratory environment. However, with love and care; one day they would be enjoying their new and natural habitat.

As Clive laid the final animal in its bed of straw the chimpanzee stirred and for a moment he and the man looked into each other’s eyes. A flash of understanding passed between them and slowly the monkey’s eyelids closed as he was laid gently onto a welcoming blanket.

A child and his destiny had now come full circle and his debt would continue to be repaid as long as he lived.

I hope that you have enjoyed this story and as always look forward to your feedback. Thanks Sally

You can find details of all my books in this directory:


Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name – Celia – A Crisis of Faith

In the Cafe and Bookstore summer sale, I gave away several copies of my short story collection free… as an indie author, and not tied to Kindle publishing, I can share my stories freely here on the blog.. Over the last few months I have been working my way through my books, and now I would like to share the 16 stories in this first volume of What’s in a Name.

There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

Celia – A Crisis of Faith

Celia sat on the edge of the wooden chair and looked around the sparse room. The bare white walls were cold and seemed to be closing in on her as if in reprimand for her decision. This room was not the only chilly environment that she had been subjected to for the last months, as news of her defection was whispered amongst those at a senior level.

She had been told to wait here over an hour ago. Her uncertainty about the future was now solidified into an icy premonition that she had made a huge mistake. This had been her life’s work, her mission and her passion. At one time she would have walked across burning coals so strong was her belief, that the life she had chosen was perfect for her. For almost all of the last twenty years she had been an exemplary example of devotion to her vocation.

She had been named after her grandmother’s much loved older sister. Great aunt Celia had entered this very order at fourteen years old and had died sixty years later as the Mother Superior of the convent. The younger members of the family had never been privileged to meet her. However, her grandmother spent many hours with Celia, talking about how proud the family had been of the devoutness of this legendary figure. Even as a child Celia had felt the weight of obligation and the need to honour the previous owner of her name.

Once in her teens and slightly at odds with the changing world around her; it became apparent to the devout Celia that she was destined to follow in the footsteps of her great aunt. At age eighteen she had entered the convent and had never stepped outside of its high stone walls since that day.

Through the years as a novitiate and then following her final vows, she had embraced the life completely. The order rose each day at 5.00 am and spent the day in prayer and working within the convent and its gardens. When Celia retired each night to her small and austere room, she would remember her family in her prayers, even as their faces began to fade.

She couldn’t identify the moment with any certainty, when doubts about her life resulted in sleepless nights, and loss of concentration during prayers. She found herself experiencing flashbacks to a time when her days seemed filled with laughter and light. Though frivolous, she also remembered teenage years and dancing with her sister to the latest hit record, as a brightly coloured skirt whirled around her knees.

She had tried to put these forbidden thoughts aside, but she no longer felt peaceful or joyous, as she dressed in her habit each morning in the cold dark of winter. She certainly no longer had the lightness of heart of the early years here in the convent. Like cracks in the dry earth these doubts had grown and spread through her being; until she could no longer be silent.

What she did feel was a huge sense of guilt. The thought of the shame that she was bringing on the name of her great aunt, who obviously had been far more steadfast in her devotion, consumed her. Her spiritual family here in the order would also be confused and hurt by her betrayal. She could only imagine how much her parents would be disappointed, and she dreaded the thought of facing them.

Across the room on a narrow iron bed, stacked in a neat pile, were the garments that she had worn daily for the last twenty years. As she looked at the folded robes and undergarments, she reflected on how little there was to show for all her time in the convent. She felt very strange in her new clothes that had been sourced from a store cupboard in the depths of the old building. Just for a moment she missed the all-encompassing safety of her former attire. She raised a hand to her short hair that felt coarse to her touch. It had been so long since it had been uncovered in public and its blunt cut and greying red hairs make her feel even more self-conscious.

The door opened and the Mother Superior stood in the doorway. She stepped back and beckoned Celia towards her, and watched as she bent to pick up the old brown suitcase by her side, that held another set of equally dated clothes.

‘Come along now,’ she ordered crisply. ‘Everyone is in chapel and you need to leave immediately.’

Celia brushed past the nun’s voluminous black habit and the firmly clasped hands across her ample middle. There was no softness to be found there or comfort. Celia faltered for a moment and saw a slight shift in the older woman’s stern features.

Closing her eyes she steadied herself against the door jam and then put one foot in front of the other. She clasped the handle of the suitcase tightly; in need of its rough texture against her palm to strengthen her resolve. In her other hand she gripped the white envelope which contained her official papers and a few notes to pay for her travel.

In silence the two women proceeded down the dark corridor and into the hall of the convent. One of the other senior sisters stood by the large oak front door and seeing them approach, opened it to the front garden. Celia paused for a moment on the doorstep and turned for one last look behind her. Her biggest regret was not being able to tell her fellow sisters about her decision, or to say goodbye. She loved them all dearly and tears filled her eyes as she contemplated the future without their warmth and support.

The two nuns stiffened postures softened for a moment; as they remembered times when their own faith had perhaps wavered momentarily. However, the rules were clear and gently the Mother Superior placed her hand on the small of Celia’s back, and pushed her clear of the door. She then stepped back into the hall and there was a resounding click as the way back was firmly barred.

The sun was shining and for a moment Celia turned her face to the blue sky and warmth. She had been Sister Monica Grace for so long that even thinking about her given name confused her. Hands trembling as the fear continued its grip; she tried to move a foot down onto the first of the concrete steps leading to the garden. It was a long walk to the gate that separated the world from this enclosed order, and she saw another sister waiting patiently to unlock and open it for her departure.

Gingerly she took her first step and then another and she managed to navigate the path to the walls behind which lay the outside world. Silently the nun used the long metal key and pulled back half of the tall wooden gate. Celia was too ashamed to look her in the eyes and slipped through the opening and onto the busy pavement.

Shockingly she was suddenly in a world that was noisy and filled with vehicles that looked alien. Pedestrians hurried along the narrow pathway and seemed oblivious to her standing in the middle of them. Especially those who were talking to themselves with some form of device held up to their ears.

Then she noticed a car parked at the kerb and a man waving his hand to urge her forward. She saw that the vehicle had the word taxi in big letters on the side and shakily moved towards this life saver in the chaos. The driver took her suitcase from her and opened the back door. He smiled reassuringly and informed her that his cab had been booked to take her to the train station. Closing the back door firmly he took his place behind the wheel. As the car pulled away from the side of the road Celia took one last look at the high stone walls of her home for so many years.


The driver navigated through the heavy traffic whilst his passenger gazed around her in bewildered confusion. So many cars and people and a blur of colour as shops and restaurants flashed by the windows.

Within minutes however they arrived at the station and she was shocked to see Margaret waiting for her on the kerb. How was this possible? She had not taken advantage of the offer to make a phone call to her family, in her certainty that they would not be accepting of her decision. The driver came around to her side of the taxi and held the door open with the battered suitcase in his hand. As her sister rushed forward, Celia grasped the top of the window and pulled herself out onto the pavement. Without any hesitation her sister leant forward and throwing strong arms around her shaking body, held Celia tightly.

The two women stood back after a few moments, and holding hands, looked at each other in wonderment. Celia reached out a palm and laid it on her sister’s soft cheek. It was like looking at a mirror image; but one that was brighter and lighter than her own. Soft curly red hair with just a few strands of grey shone in the sunlight and the green eyes with traces of tears sparkled back at her.

‘How did you know where I would be?’ she stroked her sister’s arm.

‘Mother Superior called me a week ago and told me that you were not going to call us,’ Margaret paused. ‘How could you think that we would not want you to come home Cel.’

Celia subconsciously moved her fingers through her hair and Margaret laughed and
hugged her close.

‘First stop the hairdresser sis when we get home.’ she stood back and looked at Celia’s old fashioned tweed suit. ‘And we need to get you a new wardrobe.’

She gently released her sister’s fingers from her hand and picked up the suitcase lying abandoned at their feet.

‘I have missed you so much Cel. Only once a year for twenty years is torture.’ With that she placed her arm around her waist and they moved off into the station.


The train flashed through the countryside at terrifying speed but as the two sisters sat side by side the ice cold fear in Celia’s chest began to thaw.

She let her twin rattle on brightly about her house, her husband Robbie, the two boys Andrew and Patrick who Celia had never met. Margaret had also brought a large envelope of photographs of all the family, including her parents, surrounded by grandchildren and pets in their back garden. Celia touched her sister gently on the arm to pause the exuberant flow of words.

‘Do they understand Mags?’ she bit her lower lip.

‘They love you Cel and have your old room ready and waiting,’ Margaret leant over to kiss Celia’s cheek. ‘They have missed you so much and whilst they respected your decision to enter into the convent, they never really forgave grandmother for encouraging you.’

Celia didn’t take her eyes off the face so like hers as she continued to relate the events of the last twenty years, embellishing the stories in a way that she had almost forgotten. She felt bathed in the warmth of the outpouring as she watched her sister’s lips moving, entranced by the unfamiliar sound of a voice talking rather than praying.

For the last few miles of the journey they sat in silence basking in the sunshine that shone through the carriage window. They held hands as they had so many times as children; a closeness that only twins share. Celia had sat in silence when at prayer thousands of times in the last twenty years, but she finally realised that the missing element had always been this closeness. The simple joy of being with each other. Knowing that there is love and an unbreakable bond between you.

She had no regrets about her life and her chosen path but she also now understood, that when joy has left and cannot be recaptured, you needed to let go and move forward in a new direction.

She also pondered the unexpected kindness shown by Mother Superior in notifying her family. She had been so terrified of taking this step that she had forgotten the compassion that her religious sisters offered to each other as part of any close knit family.

The train entered the station and the two sisters walked arm in arm along the platform until they were swallowed up and smothered by kiss and tear filled embraces from the welcoming committee.

©Sally Cronin 2015

I hope that you have enjoyed this story and as always look forward to your feedback. Thanks Sally

You can find details of all my books in this directory:

Smorgasbord Health Column – The Blood – Oxygen distribution, waste disposal and Anaemia

I have covered in earlier posts the absolute necessity of oxygen to our survival. It is unlikely that you will survive longer than six minutes without breathing in oxygen, but it is also vitally important for the survival of every cell within the body. If an area of the cardiovascular system is damaged and oxygen is unable to reach the tissues directly affected then that tissue will die and the infection generated will compromise the health of the rest of the body. The most vulnerable parts of the body are the hands and feet where irreparable damage to the tiny network of capillaries could lead to amputation.

The oxygen carriers.

The red blood cells are responsible for the transportation of both oxygen and carbon dioxide within the haemoglobin in the blood.

red blood cellsAs important as breathing in and utilising oxygen is concerned, getting rid of the carbon dioxide waste, which is produced during this process, is equally important. Some carbon dioxide produced in the tissues is processed and converted to a harmless substance that can be eliminated easily but some has to be transported via the blood stream back to the lungs to be got rid of.

Other transportation duties

Substances in the bloodstream like cholesterol and other fats are transported around the body, from originating organs like the liver, to elimination points where they are removed from the blood and either absorbed into cells or processing points such as the kidneys. This process is used to transport glucose and sugars, hormones and waste products like urea that becomes urine.

We are an extremely efficient waste producer and it is when this waste is not eliminated safely, and regularly, from the body that we become ill and diseased.

There are a number of blood disorders that cause concern and one of the most common is Anaemia so I am going to focus on that today – with the foods and therefore the nutrients we require to support healthy blood over the next couple of blogs.


There are actually several types of Anaemia but whilst there are a number of reasons as you will see for the blood disorder, I will focus on just two. Iron deficiency Anaemia and Pernicious Anaemia sometimes also known as Megaloblastic Anaemia. This anaemia is a Vitamin Deficiency anaemia and whilst requires medical supplementation of Vitamin B12 can still be supported by a healthy diet.

Iron deficiency Anaemia is one of the most common types and is usually associated with women. Mostly in pregnancy, but it can also affect women who have suffered heavy periods throughout their reproductive lives. As the name implies, it is caused by the lack of iron.

This might be because you have not taken in sufficient iron through your diet but it is also a vicious circle. The more blood you lose the more red blood cells you lose. These red blood cells release the iron when they die, and it is absorbed back into the system. If you sustain a lot of blood loss each month you will have increasingly less red blood cells which will lead to an iron deficiency over time.

Pregnant women lose their store of iron to the foetus, which is why many are put on an iron supplement although they can take in sufficient with an appropriate diet.

There are also other causes of blood loss, such as surgery or internal bleeding, but there are some diseases such as chronic bowel problems that induce a slow loss of blood over a long period of time and this can lead to Anaemia. If this is the case then you need to ensure that you visit your GP and ask for a blood test and do not take no for an answer. Chronic tiredness which is a symptom of Anaemia always needs to be investigated.

Earlier in my blogs I wrote about Candida Albicans, a parasite that robs nutrients from your food for its own use. This means iron too. As a result, part of the chronic fatigue associated with Candida can be linked to mild forms of anaemia. Posts on Candida can be found in the Health Directory:

Iron Deficiency Anaemia

Of the two anaemias this one is wholly preventable and treatable with changes in diet and in some cases, supplementation.

The key to the diet is not just taking in iron in extra quantities and in fact it is not a good idea to suddenly rush off and grab yourself a bottle of iron tablets and start taking a handful as this can lead to chronic constipation. It is far better to start with adjusting your diet to include foods that are a good source of the mineral. If you need additional supplementation then you should follow the advice of a professional practitioner.

What is pernicious anaemia?

Pernicious Anaemia is actually a vitamin deficiency rather than an iron deficiency. As well as iron, your body needs B6, B12 and folic acid, or folate, to produce enough healthy red blood cells. If your diet is lacking in these, then you will have fewer red blood cells, and therefore less iron, and be anaemic.

Who is the most likely to suffer from this type of anaemia?

Both men and women suffer from this type of anaemia. In rare cases it can be genetic or congenital when someone is born with the inability to absorb Vitamin B12 from their diet. In this case although a healthy diet will support the sufferer they have to be treated with injections of B12 or large doses orally for the rest of their lives.

Nutrition and blood diseases.

Diet plays an enormous part in the prevention and treatment of blood diseases. Today’s diet of processed foods, additives, chemicals and fad weight-loss plans are all contributing to the inability of our body to process the necessary and vital nutrients efficiently. I have worked with many people who decide that they are going to become vegetarian and have done so without finding appropriate substitutes for animal products that previously provided nutrients such as iron and the B vitamins. If you wish to become vegetarian then make sure that you are getting sufficient wholegrains, fermented soy products like miso or Tempeh and plenty of fresh fruit and green vegetables. There is plenty of advice online on how to change your diet safely so please take advantage of that.

In some anaemic patients it is the result of a disease or condition that prevents absorption of nutrients in general – such as Candida – Crohns disease or if someone is celiac. Anything that affects the small intestine will cause mal-absorption of nutrients and result in possible anaemia

Also, long-term medication, use of the pill, HRT and chemotherapy can have an effect on the way we absorb iron, B6, B12 and Folate. As I mentioned earlier, any blood-loss means that the iron that is normally recycled when cells die off naturally is not available. It is important that anyone who has been through an intensive a treatment for a disease such as cancer receives nutritional support afterwards to ensure that their diet is absolutely optimum for regaining healthy red blood cells.

What symptoms would someone experience if they were anaemic?

People will vary with the symptoms depending on the severity of the problem.

  •  Generally people will begin to feel very tired. As we have said the body is being deprived of one of its main energy sources – oxygen.
  •  Some may experience rapid heartbeats – perhaps find themselves getting breathless when they have not really over exerted themselves.
  • There might be some chest pain associated with the symptoms – headaches or dizziness.
  • Hands and feet can become numb and very cold.
  • Nausea, causing loss of appetite and weight loss.
  • Bleeding gums and a yellowish tinge to the skin and around the eyes.

What should you do if you feel that you might be anaemic?

If anyone is suffering from any of the symptoms above and is worried they should go and see their doctor and ask them to do a blood test. It would certainly either put their mind at rest or establish that there is a problem which can be easily treated – if necessary with a short term course of iron supplements or, if the problem is more serious, with injections. For dietary based anaemia or where it is only a temporary problem with absorption of B12 – diet and supplementation might be appropriate.

If the problem is a long term issue, as with pernicious anaemia, then the treatment usually consists of injections – daily to begin with, for a week or so, until the condition as stabilised and then as required, which might be monthly or three-monthly. If B12 is given orally it requires much higher dosages to ensure absorption but there is currently experimentation with sublingual supplementation.

Both these types of anaemia can be supported with a healthy diet and next time a look at the nutrients that are needed to support the health of the red blood cells and the foods you need to obtain them.

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

My nutritional background

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. 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, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

You can find all my books here with links to Amazon:

Thank you for reading the post and your feedback is always welcome. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Health Column – Nutrients the Body Needs – Zinc – The Immune System, acne, infertility, prostate

Welcome to this week’s look at essential nutrients that our bodies need to be healthy. We tend to regard food as something that looks pretty on a plate, smells and tastes good. Often the cost factor comes in because when you have several mouths to feed that is important. We don’t walk around a market looking for a bunch of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and a bag of zinc but we do need to ensure that we have a wide enough variety of fresh produce in our diet.

When I look at the food diaries for my clients for two weeks of meals, it is often evident that they have settled into a routine.. Fish on Friday, shepherd’s pie on Tuesday, chicken casserole on Thursday. There might be the occasional variation but usually it is the same shopping list week after week.

You might find it useful to check this post out which is the basic shopping list for health and also to make a calendar up for your local area to remind you to buy seasonal produce as that has not only traveled a lot less than most fresh food but supports your local economy.

Now to this week’s mineral….Zinc

I have featured a number of posts in the health column on various diseases resulting from compromised immune systems. From the threat of a common cold to cancer, the immune system is on alert and then in action all our lives.

Zinc has been called ‘the healing mineral’. There is evidence to suggest that wounds heal faster when the body has sufficient zinc in reserve and a patient who has a healthy diet including foods containing zinc may find that recovery from operations is speeded up. In some cases additional supplementation is recommended, particularly in a person who has not got a healthy diet.

Zinc is also plays a major role in respiratory infections, burns and skin conditions and certainly has shown that if used in the form of lozenges at the start of a cold, it can alleviate some of the symptoms.

Like Vitamin C, Zinc is a component of more than 300 enzymes needed to repair wounds, maintain fertility in adults and growth in children. It helps synthesise protein, helps cells reproduce, protects vision, boosts immunity and acts as an antioxidant, protecting us from free radical damage.

Main areas of health that require Zinc

The primary areas of health that the mineral is most effectively used are for acne, the common cold, infertility, night blindness and wound healing. It is also used therapeutically in certain cases of anaemia, anorexia nervosa, birth defect prevention, coeliac disease, cold sores, Crohn’s disease, Diabetes, mouth and gum disorders, liver disease, and peptic ulcers. This list is only a partial representation of the areas of health that Zinc is involved in and including it in your daily diet is very important.

One of the areas that I have used zinc as part of a diet programme is for men in their mid 40’s onwards. Prostate problems such as enlargement or even cancer are quite common in that age group and zinc is one of the minerals that may help prevent future problems. In this case a handful of pumpkinseeds twice a day provides a healthy dose of zinc as well as other nutrients.

How do you know you might be deficient in zinc?

A major deficiency is unlikely in the western world. In under developed countries children who are deficient suffer from stunted growth, weight loss, gastrointestinal problems and pneumonia.

In our environment there is some evidence that if there is a poor diet prior to and during pregnancy that zinc will be deficient that could lead to birth defects and illness in the mother. Drinking alcohol to excess can result in liver damage, particularly liver cirrhosis and there appears to be a link to zinc deficiency.

An interesting line of research is in the management of Down’s syndrome. Children born with this syndrome are commonly deficient in Zinc and are treated with a supplement and diet and this helps boost their immunity and thyroid function, which is suppressed due to the condition.

The most common age group for deficiency is the elderly whose digestive systems, along with many other operational activities has slowed down and is complicated by a decrease in appetite and the resultant lack of food and nourishment. If kidney disease is also present the effects the deficiency could be worsened.

Are there any dangers to including zinc in your diet?

Including zinc in your everyday diet is unlikely to cause problems. If you are deficient a supplement containing 15mg per day is sufficient unless your doctor advises higher doses for certain illnesses.

There is evidence to suggest that once you start taking in excess of 300mg per day in supplements you could impair immune system function rather than boosting it.

Some people find that zinc lozenges that are taken at the start of a cold leave a metallic taste in them mouth and some experience gastrointestinal problems but it is usually due to taking more than the recommended dosage, in excess of 150mg. This is one of those cases where less may be more.

The best food sources for zinc are: seafood particularly oysters, pumpkinseeds, sesame seeds, wheatgerm, egg yolks, black-eyed peas and tofu.

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

My nutritional background

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. 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, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

You can find all my books here with links to Amazon:

Thank you for dropping by as always and look forward to your feedback.  Please feel free to share.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – A Summer Party, Music, Myths, Food, Great Books and Laughter…You are invited.

I never thought that I would say that I was grateful for some rain this last week.. but I am. Hopefully not too little, too late for farmers whose crops have stalled. It is a lovely afternoon and have been enjoying some sunshine.. so have my feather family who bring me constant amusement.

My best buy this summer was a metre square three inch seed tray that has become the swimming pool for a wide variety of birds. The bird bath and seed tree we bought last Christmas has also been inundated and preparing meals has never been so much fun. Sally’s Cafe and Bird Spa….

At times there are at least 50 or more birds on the feeder and in the baths with everyone joining in together. The starlings are very keen and spend ages in there splashing around, but until recently I had only seen the sparrows taking dust baths. Until this week when they have clearly picked up a few tricks from the starlings, and today there were little birds having a high old time since early morning and they are still at it now.

Normally when the crows come down the other birds scatter. The crows are not acrobatic enough to use the seeders as intended, so they have worked out another method. One stands on the metal ring and bangs his head on the seeders so that they scatter the seed on the ground below for his mates. However, like elegant pole dancers they can be found hanging upside down on the fat ball holder rocking back and forth as they try to get a morsel. They usually come in a group of rowdy teenagers, but we have got a crow who is rather bedraggled and skinny who started coming down on his own. Much to our surprise the starlings, sparrows and tits ignore him and hang around, and I even saw him in the pool with three starlings this morning.

The only bird who is not welcome is the sparrow hawk who sits on branches in the hedge and pounces on my babies… They are protected in Ireland, but there is nothing to say that I cannot come out and shout at him and wave my arms around like a mad woman. It seems to have discouraged him but my neighbour tells me it spends a lot of time in her garden.. ah well…

The Smorgasbord End of Summer Party Weekend 25th – 26th August

Thank you for such an amazing response.  There are four posts over the weekend with the themes Brunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner on the Saturday and Sunday Lunch. I am delighted to say that 3 spaces left for Brunch, 1 space in the afternoon tea,  and 2 for Sunday Lunch. The details are in the post and if you would like to be promoted then please do so quickly…

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – update and new promotional opportunities.

I have updated the directory with the blogger daily and other opportunities to promote authors in the cafe so please take a read.  Also in the second post.. how to put your books on the shelves for the first time.

Anyway on with the posts that you might have missed this week and as always a huge thank you for William Price King and Carol Taylor for supplying the music and the food this week, and to you for dropping by.

The Music Column with William Price King – Summer Jazz with Diana Krall

Writer in Residence rewind – Ionia by Paul Andruss.

I thought you might enjoy revisiting some of Paul’s ealier posts from the beginning of 2017 as he is on his extended break.. This week Ionia – Gods and Myths.


The Food and Cookery Column with Carol Taylor.

This week Carol makes good use of the spices she mixed last week to create some show stopping meals for the family.

Getting to Know You.

Delighted to welcome children’s author, poet and master confectioner Robbie Cheadle as guest on the Getting to Know You interview. A very busy mum who works full-time but still finds time to write, blog, and support so many of us here.

Personal Stuff

Beatrix is about to end her very long and successful theatre career but what lies beneath the mask?

From early man through to the current day, the birthright of one particular family is carried from generation to generation.

Letters from America – 1985-1987 – My parent’s visit – Anniversary party and nearly lights out.

Sally’s Drive Time Playlist – 1982 – Dionne Warwick and Survivor

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves.

Author Updates #reviews

Blogger Daily

Health Column

The components of our blood and Anaemia.


There has been a dramatic increase in cases of measles in some of the countries in Europe and there is a spike in the UK too. The most at risk are those with compromised immune systems and mothers-to-be and infants who have not been vaccinated.

Nutrients the body needs – Phosphorus and bone health

Humour and Afternoon Videos

More weird facts and trivia

The last part of the weird facts and trivia

Thank you very much for spending time here today and for your support.. enjoy the week .. thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name? – Brian – The Birthright by Sally Cronin

In the Cafe and Bookstore summer sale, I gave away several copies of my short story collection free… as an indie author, and not tied to Kindle publishing, I can share my stories freely here on the blog.. Over the last few months I have been working my way through my books, and now I would like to share the 16 stories in this first volume of What’s in a Name.

There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

Brian – The Birthright

The firelight from the hearth flickered across the stampeding beasts on the wall of the cave. The clan leader Brynyar lay on the animal pelts and tried to gather his thoughts through the pain. He was old at over forty winters and his bones ached with arthritis.

The gash in his side from the bison during the final hunt of the summer had not healed well, and despite the wound being packed with herbs by the medicine woman, it hurt like hell.

His time was near and he was afraid. Not for what was to come as that was part of the cycle of life. What really worried him was the future of his clan in the changing world around them. Even in his lifetime, he had witnessed the gradual warming of the sun and the melting of ice caps to the north, and this had resulted in massive migrations of the animals they relied on for their food and so much of their daily needs.

The clan would have to move from their ancestral winter caves here in the fertile valley and move with the herds to find a new home. He knew that he would be unable to travel with them, and although he trusted his eldest son of his hearth, he knew what a huge undertaking it would be.

Brynyar rubbed the back of his hand where a birthmark in the form of an arrow darkened its weathered skin. Each one of his sons carried the same blemish and it was right that they do so. They were the fleetest and most successful of the clans, and had a reputation as the finest hunters in the valley. Athletic and fearless they dared to go where others feared to tread, often resulting in injuries and even death. They were also accomplished craftsmen working with flint and bone to produce their much admired weapons. The women were also experts at foraging for the plants, fruits and seeds, needed to sustain them through these long dark winter months.

If they had to follow the herds north, there would be no guarantee that those plants they were familiar with would be available. Nobody knew what the earth so recently released from its icy prison would yield, or if the new rivers would yet be stocked with fish.

The future was uncertain and Brynyar fell into a fitful and painful sleep as the fire in the hearth died down for the last time in his life.

The small clan led by the eldest son of Brynyar’s hearth, packed up their belongings as soon as spring warmed the air in the valley. There were twenty five men, women and children all carrying heavy fur wrapped loads on their backs. With the women in the centre, the men and boys formed a protective perimeter, and as the days warmed they made slow but steady progress. Food was scarce in the beginning, but once they caught up with the herds, they replenished their stocks and set up their summer camp near a river. They were delighted to find that there were indeed fish in the fast flowing icy water from the north, and that the glacier melt had also nourished the surrounding land with its rich silt.

Scouting parties travelled north following the river to find a suitable winter cave, and after two months they came across another clan on the same mission. They combined forces and discovered a series of large caves above the river valley about fifty miles from the summer camp.

With their wind dried meat, rendered fat, constant supply of fresh fish, foraged plants and seeds the two clans settled into their new homes. Over the years more strong and healthy boys with the arrow birthmark were born. As the community grew, from time to time small groups split from the clan and would move on. These bands bearing the mark of the arrow travelled to all parts of the emerging continent; including across stormy seas to Britain and Ireland.

Present Day.

Brian Monaghan looked down at the sleeping child in his arms. His first great-grandchild, and the first to be named Brian in the family for thirty years. He lifted the delicate right hand of the baby and smiled as he saw the familiar arrow birthmark. He and his sons all had this distinctive characteristic. The tales of why they carried this reminder of their ancestry had been passed down through the countless generations by mother to daughter and father to son.

No longer hunters, the clan had dispersed to the four winds and set up homes in villages and cities. However Brian’s ancestors had remained nomadic, travelling through Europe entertaining all that they met with their acrobatic and dangerous performances. With skills honed over many generations, they became the most respected circus family of the present day.

At the end of the summer, the group of families always returned to their winter camp in the southwest of Ireland. Here they would gather their strength, enjoy family life and prepare new and even more daring acts for the next season of performances on the continent.

It was also a time of celebration and new life, and Brian held his great-grandson in both of his hands above his head and turned slowly in the sawdust covered ring.

‘Today we welcome the latest Brian Monaghan to the clan, and this fine strong and sturdy lad will one day take his place amongst you high above the ground.’

The baby’s parents looked on proudly as their son chortled and waved his hands around as if reaching for the trapeze bars in the roof of the tent.

Another generation of the famous Monaghan Circus had made his debut, carrying the mark of his birthright.

©Sally Cronin – What’s in a Name 2015

I hope that you have enjoyed this story and as always look forward to your feedback. Thanks Sally

You can find details of all my books in this directory:

Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name – Beatrix – Behind the Mask by Sally Cronin

In the Cafe and Bookstore summer sale, I gave away several copies of my short story collection free… as an indie author, and not tied to Kindle publishing, I can share my stories freely here on the blog.. Over the last few months I have been working my way through my books, and now I would like to share the 16 stories in this first volume of What’s in a Name.

There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

Beatrix – Behind the Mask

Beatrix De Carlo took her final bow before the audience that filled the theatre to capacity. There had been four curtain calls, as those who had watched her last performance of this critically acclaimed production, showed their appreciation and adoration.

Beatrix remained in character, gently smiling and waving her arm regally at both cast members and audience in turn. Her silver hair shone in the stage lighting and the fake diamonds around her neck sparkled as if to deny their false nature.

Finally, the curtain came down for the last time and members of the cast rushed forward to clasp her hands and utter niceties to her. One after another they politely offered their thanks before heading off to embrace their fellow actors.

Beatrix could hear them making arrangements to meet up for drinks in the pub around the corner.

‘So privileged to have worked with you Miss De Carlo,’ whispered the leading man whose breath smelt of mints. She smiled graciously and disengaged herself from his sweaty hands.

‘You too Gerald and please give my regards to your lovely wife.’ Discouraged, the elderly actor turned and sauntered across the stage intent on joining the younger generation for last orders.

She glided away through the stage crew as they cleared the set, and made her way to her dressing room.

She closed the door behind her and looked at the cluttered space. Two costume changes lay untidily across the sofa and armchair, and instead of the usual welcoming tray of sparkling mineral water and chocolate digestive biscuits, there was a dirty coffee mug containing bitter dregs. She leaned back against the door and closed her eyes wearily. How she missed Mabel.

The theatre management had offered the services of one of their experienced dressers for this last performance, but that would have been unacceptable. Mabel was the only person who knew exactly what Beatrix needed, and had been by her side for the last fifteen years without missing a single performance. She moved towards the dressing table and sat on the worn velour stool and looked at herself in the mirror.

Removing her bouffant silver wig, she placed it carefully on the foam model head beside her. She then began the painstaking task of removing the make-up that had transformed her into a seventy year old dowager queen. Finally she was bare faced and viewed her reflection. Having removed one face she must now apply another.

As she slipped her arms into her leather coat and patted her platinum blonde hair into place there was a knock on the door.

‘Miss De Carlo, it’s Jack Smith, can I come in for a moment?’

Beatrix went across and opened the door for the theatre director and smiled at him.
‘Hello Jack,’ she laid a hand on his arm. ‘I hope you were happy with the final performance this evening?’

He stepped into the dressing room and took in its untidy appearance.

‘Sorry to hear about Mabel,’ he perched on the back of the armchair. ‘Spraining her ankle like that was a great shame, but I’m sure she will be back on her feet again very soon.’

Seeing that Beatrix was ready to leave, Jack escorted her to the stage door where she signed out for the last time. She slipped Tony the porter an envelope and he winked back at her in thanks. Leaving the two men behind she walked into the cold night air and slipped into the back seat of the waiting taxi.

For a moment Jack stood with his hands in his trouser pockets before turning to Tony. ‘She really is an amazing woman isn’t she,’ He paused for a moment and shook his head. ‘It is hard to believe that she has stayed at the top of her game for the last forty years.’ Tony nodded his head in silent agreement as he slipped the envelope into his pocket.

The taxi driver opened the back door of his cab and assisted the elegant middle aged woman onto the slick pavement. She paid the fare and tipped him generously with a gracious smile. She let herself into the luxury mews cottage where she had lived for the last seventeen years. Carefully she closed the door behind her and let out a sigh of relief.

She could see that there was a light still on in the living-room and she popped her head in and viewed the occupant.

Hi mum,’ she smiled at the woman with her foot up on a stool in front of her armchair. ‘Can I get you anything before I get out of this clobber?

‘No Brenda love, clean that muck off your face and get into your PJs,’ she smiled at her daughter mischievously. ‘I want to hear all about the last night, I was so gutted to have missed it.’

Ten minutes later her daughter sat on the sofa with her bare feet up on the coffee table… Her auburn hair in a short bob framed her youthful face and she held the cup of hot chocolate between her clasped fingers.

The two generations of the acting legend known as Beatrix De Carlo then shared the glory of their latest triumphant performance.

©Sally Cronin – What’s in a Name 2015

I hope that you have enjoyed this story and as always look forward to your feedback. Thanks Sally

You can find details of all my books in this directory:

Smorgasbord Health Column – #Measles Alert for mothers-to-be – Infants #Outbreak Europe by Sally Cronin

If you are pregnant and are likely to be traveling in Europe during the rest of the summer then you should consult your doctor about being vaccinated against measles if you have not already had the disease.(If you have had measles you have a lifelong immunity).

You should also check that members of your family who have not already had measles are up to date on their vaccinations.

There were nearly 800 cases in the first three weeks of the year compared to only 274 in the whole of 2017 in the UK. Outbreaks in certain European countries continue to cause concern and the cause is a lack of consistency in the percentage of the population being vaccinated.

There is a term ‘herd immunity’ which is the percentage at which optimum immunity is achieved. In the case of measles it is when 95% of the population has been vaccinated with the second dose of vaccine.

Most of those getting measles are over 15, however babies up to a year old cannot be vaccinated, and are therefore reliant on the herd immunity to protect them from coming into contact with someone with the disease.

As you will see from the report there are certain countries where 87% of the population is unvaccinated

What is Measles

Although we associate measles with a rash, it is in fact a viral respiratory disease also known as rubeola. Extremely contagious, it is spread through contact with a person’s infected saliva or mucus through coughing or by touching surfaces they have contaminated where the virus can live for several hours.

Within a close knit unit such as a family or classroom it is very difficult to not come into contact with the infected person, or their immediate surroundings which are contaminated. This is how it spreads so quickly, especially if everyone is unvaccinated.

A rash does appear within three to five days of exposure to the virus, usually the first sign is an itchy scalp as the rash usually spreads downwards from the head. It is important to consult a doctor immediately especially if you are pregnant or you have an infant under a year old and unvaccinated.

Anyone with a compromised immune system is also at risk and needs to ensure that they are vaccinated.

Other symptoms of measles usually appear within 14 days of exposure.

  • Cough and cold symptoms such as a runny nose and sore throat
  • High fever
  • Red eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Muscle aches
  • White spots that appear inside the mouth

If you think that you have been in contact with someone with measles and your vaccinations are not up to date, go to your doctor immediately for a booster as this should prevent you developing the disease.

Here are a couple of reports .. one from the Daily Mail and one from the ECDPC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Measles warning to pregnant women: Midwives urge mothers-to-be to make sure they are vaccinated as a deadly outbreak spreads through Europe

  • Some 781 cases occurred between the start of the year and January 22
  • Compared to just 274 throughout 2017, according to Public Health England
  • Outbreaks are occurring in Italy, Germany, Greece, France and Romania
  • To prevent an outbreak, 95% of the population should be immunised
  • Only 91.9% of children were vaccinated against measles between 2015 and 16

Pregnant women have been urged to ensure that they are protected against measles as cases of the infection continue to rise.

Midwives from Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust are encouraging expectant mothers to get up-to-date on their jabs, with previous research linking measles to stillbirths, miscarriages and premature labours.

Janet Cairns, head of midwifery at the Trust, said: ‘Now is the time to check if you are vaccinated against measles.

‘If you are pregnant and have been in contact with someone with measles, please contact your GP or midwife’.

This comes just weeks after the Royal College of Nursing urged European holidaymakers to ensure they are up-to-date before their travels, with Greece, Italy, Romania, Germany, France and Serbia all experiencing unusually high measles rates.

You can read the rest of the article here:Measles outbreak – Daily Mail

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

Measles outbreaks continue to occur in a number of EU/EEA countries, and there is a risk of spread and sustained transmission in areas with susceptible populations.

Between 1 February 2017 and 31 January 2018, 14 732 cases of measles were reported to the European Surveillance System by 30 EU/EEA countries according to ECDC’s monthly measles and rubella monitoring report published today. Most cases were reported by Romania (5 224), Italy (4 978), Greece (1 398) and Germany (906), accounting for 35%, 34%, 9% and 6%, respectively, of all cases reported by EU/EEA countries.

Fifteen EU/EEA countries reported 1 073 cases of measles in January 2018 (Source: TESSy). Greece and France in particular reported an increased number of cases.

According to more recent data published in ECDC’s Communicable Disease Threat Report (CDTR), obtained through epidemic intelligence, the highest number of measles cases in the EU since 1 January 2018 were in Greece (1 008), Romania (757), France (429) and Italy (164). Seven deaths have been reported from these 4 countries – Romania (3), Italy (2), Greece (1) and France (1).

Measles is a severe disease and since the beginning of 2016, 57 deaths due to the disease have been reported in the EU.

Measles affects all age groups across Europe, and according to the data up to 31 January 2018 in the monthly measles and rubella monitoring report, 45% of measles cases with known age were aged 15 years or older – highlighting gaps in cohorts of individuals that missed-out vaccination. However, the highest incidence of cases was reported in infants below one year of age, being those most at risk of severe complications and deaths– and too young to have received the first dose of the vaccine. Such infants are best protected by herd immunity, which is achieved when population coverage for the second dose of a measles-containing vaccine is at least 95%.

The continued spread of measles across Europe is due to suboptimal vaccination coverage in many EU/EEA countries: of all measles cases reported with known vaccination status, 87% were in unvaccinated individuals.

Read the rest of the report: Outbreak 2018 ongoing and fatalities four countries

Boosts to the outbreak.

  1. Families going on holiday to countries where there is a low vaccination rate and a high number of reported cases. For mothers-to-be and also infants. And the risk of bringing back the infection to pass onto others at risk.
  2. In September when school starts, if not all children have been fully vaccinated they run the risk of catching measles and passing it on to younger members of the family or if their mother is pregnant.
  3. Holiday makers coming into the country from areas of Europe where there is a vaccinations shortfalls.
  4. Travel on planes that are on routes to those countries with high infection rates and where the virus has contaminated seats, tray tables and surroundings. Since the virus is live for several hours there is a risk of passing on that virus every time new passengers board.

Avoiding the virus

It is tough, especially when moving out of your home environment which you can control by ensuring surfaces are wiped down with hot water and soap and that bed linens and towels are washed frequently. But even then, people sneeze or touch their noses and then furniture, crockery, cutlery etc. Others come along and touch the surface and then their nose and mouth.

Washing hands regularly is key and teaching even young children to do this simple routine is very important.

It is also important to ensure that your vaccinations are up to date if you have not already had measles. Vaccinations for measles was only introduced in 1963 so that means that there is a large sector of the population who was not vaccinated as a child and who has not had the virus. It was a common disease when I was a child and I had measles at age three which gave me immunity. But there are people approaching their 70s and 80 who should also consider themselves at risk, especially around younger members of the family who contract the disease.

In this post I looked at the Aussie Flu earlier in the year and I also looked at more ways to prevent infection and to boost the immune system with a specific focus on nutrient rich foods.

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

My nutritional background

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. 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, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

You can find all my books here with links to Amazon:

I hope that this has given you something to think about.. if you have any questions please fire away. thanks Sally



Smorgasbord Health Column – Nutrients the Body Needs – Phosphorus and Bone Health

This week I am showcasing Phosphorus. It is a mineral that you will not find in your multi-vitamin and mineral supplement because it is considered that we obtain sufficient through our diet.

Phosphorus and bone health

However there are some interesting facts about phosphorus that makes it worth taking a closer look at. Many women as they approach the menopause will begin to supplement with additional calcium to prevent bone loss and take up weight bearing exercise such as walking and yoga. However, very few women realise that phosphorus is also very important for bone health and without it calcium is less effective.

Clinical studies have shown that calcium supplementation without enough phosphorus may actually lead to bone mass reduction.   Although most calcium supplements are combined with Vitamin D to assist absorption, trials have shown that with the addition of phosphorus bone fractures in high-risk patients was reduced by 43% within 18 months.

What is phosphorus?

Phosphorus is an essential mineral usually combined with oxygen as a phosphate. Most phosphate in the body is found in our bones. But, phosphate containing molecules, (phospholipids) are also important components of cell membranes and lipoprotein particles such as HDL (healthy cholesterol) and LDL (lousy cholesterol). A small amount of phosphate plays a role in many of our biochemical reactions including the production of our essential fuel ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and the formation of red blood cells.

What are the signs of a phosphorus deficiency?

Deficiency is rare in a person with a normal diet. Alcoholics however are at risk as are people who are constantly taking antacids because of the aluminium content in some brands. Osteoporosis sufferers who are heavily supplementing with calcium are also at risk of deficiency and it is usually recommended that they take phosphorus at the same time.

The far bigger risk with phosphorus is the amount we are consuming in processed foods such as soft drinks. A diet high in phosphorus may decrease the absorption of other minerals such as iron, copper and zinc.

Phosphoric acid for example in soft drinks has been linked to kidney stones in some trials and certainly people with kidney disease should avoid taking in any food or drink that a

What are the best food sources of phosphorus?

Sufficient phosphorus is found in a diet that includes plenty of protein rich foods such as turkey and other poultry and meats.

Dairy products are rich in the mineral and eating beans regularly will also provide good amounts.

Vegetarians need to include plenty of whole grains and nuts in their diet to ensure that they obtain sufficient phosphorus.

You can find the posts on the other major nutrients we need in the Health Column Directory:

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

My nutritional background

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. 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, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

You can find all my books here with links to Amazon:

Thanks for dropping by and I hope it has given you something to think about..


Smorgasbord Health Column – The cardiovascular system and the components of Blood #Anaemia

Blood is an incredibly complex fluid that uses the network of blood vessels to take the essential supplies such as oxygen and nutrients around the body that we need every day.

Blood is one of the constituents of our bodies that we tend to take for granted. Unless we suffer a catastrophic accident, resulting in major injuries most of us just need a plaster from time to time to patch ourselves up. However, blood is alive with an amazing group of components, completing several vital roles every second of every day, to ensure that we survive.

If our blood is not healthy we can suffer from anaemia, inefficient immune systems, slow healing and frequent infections. Long term blood disorders lead to much more serious illnesses such as cancer and organ failure.

Without a microscope we are unable to see the enormity of the life that is contained in just one small drop of blood. Once you understand some of the properties and duties of your blood and appreciate how vital it is to maintain its integrity, it will be easy to make sure that you include foods in your diet that promote its health and therefore your own.

The Cardiovascular System

Our cardiovascular system’s function is to pump blood around the body. If this process stops for more than a few seconds we will lose consciousness. Every part of our body requires oxygen and nutrients on demand, including additional supplies when we are under pressure. Our cardiovascular system deals with this process without any thought or involvement from us and in addition it will remove any waste products from our systems at the same time. A healthy cardiovascular system is essential and the quality of our blood is vital to our survival.

The circulatory system is made up of arteries, veins and capillaries. The arteries carry the oxygenated blood from the lungs into smaller arterioles, which connect to the veins via capillaries. Unlike the muscle-walled arteries, veins have thin, flexible walls that can expand to hold large volumes of blood. De-oxygenated blood returning to the heart in the veins is at a lower pressure than in the arteries and movement is assisted by a succession of one-way valves that prevent blood from flowing backwards.

The links between the arteries and the veins are the capillaries, which are tiny blood vessels with permeable walls, which allow the exchange of nutrients, oxygen and waste between blood and tissue cells.

Blood is a liquid tissue and your body contains around 8 to 12 pints depending on your age and if you are male or female. Without blood you would die. It performs a number of crucial functions within the body, including the transportation of oxygen and carbon dioxide, food molecules (glucose, fats and amino acids), ions, waste (such as urea), hormones and heat around the body. One of its major functions is the defence of the body against infections and other ingested toxins.

The components of Blood

Within blood is plasma, which is the pale yellow liquid that can easily be replaced by your body when it needs to. It is mainly water and proteins which assist your body in controlling bleeding and fighting infection. It is essential for the circulation of our red and white blood cells and platelets and also ensures that our natural, chemical communication system is operational. This communication system reaches every part of the body via the capillaries and is fuelled by minerals, vitamins, hormones and antibodies.

What are the different blood cell types?

White blood cells are called leukocytes and there are five types carrying out specific roles within the blood. Neutrophils, Eosinophils, Lymphocytes, Monocytes and Basophils.

Neutrophils are the most abundant of the white blood cells and are the first line of defence. They squeeze through the capillaries to infected areas in the body and consume and destroy invading bacteria and viruses. Even when we are healthy this process is essential as we are constantly ingesting, absorbing or inhaling harmful substances in our everyday environment. If our blood is healthy and well-populated with neutrophils we can prevent these invasions leading to illness and disease.

Picture1Eosinophils are not very abundant in the blood but they are on stand-by and can increase their numbers dramatically if the body comes under attack from certain types of parasites. The cell will rush to the infected area such as the intestines and release a toxic substance over the parasite to destroy it.

Picture2Red blood cells, or erythrocytes, are the most numerous type of blood cell. They are shaped specifically to ensure that they absorb as much oxygen from the lungs as possible. In just one minute 120 million of your red blood cells will die but in the same time frame exactly the same amount will be replaced from the bone marrow. The process actually starts in the kidneys, which release a hormone called erythropoietin, which travels to the bone marrow where it stimulates the production of erythrocytes. This is another reason why it is so vital to maintain the function of your kidneys with a natural, cook from scratch approach to your diet.

Other Cells in the blood.

  • B-Lymphocytes (B Cells)are responsible for making our antibodies in response to an infection.
  • T-Lymphocytes (T-Cells)are a family of cells including Inflammatory T-cells that rally Neutrophils and macrophages to the site of an infection quickly where they will consume bacteria.
  • Cytotoxic T-Lymphocytes that kill virus infected and possibly cancerous tumour cells.
  • Helper T-Cells that enhance the production of antibodies.
  • Monocytes leave the blood and become macrophages, which are large cells that ingest and destroy any invading antigens that enter the body and also any dead and dying cells from the body.
  • Basophils also increase production during an infection and will leave the blood stream via the capillaries and collect at the site of an infection where they will discharge granules that will stimulate the release of histamine, serotonin, prostaglandins and leukotrines. This increases the flow of blood to the infected site and results in an inflammatory reaction. An example of this might be a wasp sting or an allergic reaction to ingesting pollen resulting in a hay-fever attack.

What else is in the blood that is so vital for our health?

We have already established that without blood we die and we need a system in place that ensures that any break in the circulatory system is plugged and repaired as quickly as possible.

Picture3Platelets are fragments of cells and must be kept at sufficient density in the blood to ensure that when blood vessels are cut or damaged the loss of blood can be stopped before shock and possible death occurs. This is accomplished by a process called coagulation or clotting.

A clot is formed when platelets form a plug, which is enmeshed in a network of insoluble fibrin molecules. This forms over any break in the circulatory system preventing any further loss of blood.

Next time a closer look at oxygenated blood and Anaemia.

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

My nutritional background

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. 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, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

You can find all my books here with links to Amazon:

Thank you for dropping in and would love to receive your feedback and questions. Thanks Sally