Smorgasbord Health Column – Acidity in mineral water and tooth enamel erosion – Update by Sally Cronin

Last year I posted on the risk to your teeth enamel by drinking mineral water that is too acidic, and I have now found another interesting post that takes this assertion further, to include a risk to the entire body.

Here is that post with the addition of an extract from the article which you will find interesting and will persuade you to review your intakes of mineral water vs. filtered tap water.

I rarely have any fizzy drinks and I am pretty careful about fruit juices too and I decided to explore my acid erosion a little further. I tend to drink bottled water and filtered tap water in tea and coffee, and since the majority of the fluid I drink is water, I decided to check out the pH value which determines if a substance is acidic or alkaline.

What is pH balance?

Health and energy and long life all begin with a correct pH balance. The pH balance refers to the acidity or alkalinity of every living organism. The scale for measuring this balance is called Potential for Hydrogen or pH balance and each system or organ has its optimum balance for health. The scale goes from 0 to 14 with 7.0 being neutral with anything above 7 as alkaline and anything below 7 being acidic. Each step up or down is ten times the previous which means that even a change of .1 will have an effect on your body.

For example human blood stays in a very narrow pH range between 7.35 and 7.45. If the balance goes either side of this there will be varying symptoms of disease. In fact if the pH level drops too much below 6.8 or above 7.8 the heart can stop.

This illustrates how critical this level of acidity and alkalinity is for our health.

If you have a health problem you are very likely to be acidic. Some of the early symptoms are acid after eating, acne, panic attacks, cold hands and feet, food allergies, bloating, mild headaches and fatigue. Sound familiar?

More acute symptoms are cold sores, depression, migraines, asthma, hives, and urinary infections (urine pH should be between 7.0 and 7.2. Under 5.3 you cannot absorb vitamins and minerals), hair loss, fungal infections and numbness and tingling.

Advanced symptoms are the diseases such as Crohn’s disease, MS, Leukaemia, Peptic ulcers, Cancer (thrives in a balance of 4.5 to 5.0), Hodgkin’s Disease, Tuberculosis, Lupus and Rheumatoid arthritis and Osteoporosis.

Every food and fluid has its own pH value and when we consume and process that food it adds to the general acidity or alkalinity of our body.

What is the pH value of plain water.

Even water has a pH value and can vary according to the chemical make-up of minerals that have been leached from the source of the water before we drink from the tap or bottle. For example we live in hard or soft water areas and that is down to the amount of certain minerals present.

The pH of water is between 6.5 and 8.5 and the lower the pH the more acidic it is. At the lower end it is likely to have more metals such as copper, iron, lead and zinc and it is soft water that can leave a metallic taste in the mouth.The more metallic and acidic the water the more toxic it becomes.

The harder waters will be closer to the 8.5 pH value and will have more calcium deposits which results in an alkaline balance but also can block your pipes.

What about mineral water that millions drink every day?

It just so happens there was an article this week that caught my eye and will encourage me to change the bottled water I currently drink to another brand.

Tests have been done on some of the leading brands of mineral water to identify their pH value, and I was interested to see how, some of these often expensive brands, have an acidic pH value as low as 4.

Acid erosion of our enamel occurs when we constantly wash them with acidic foods and drinks below a value of 5.5.

If you are drinking every day and believe that you have chosen the healthy option, you might like to get your dentist to check for enamel erosion on your next visit. If like me you do not drink fizzy soda or a lot of fruit juices, you should perhaps check out your mineral water.

This new article takes us through the process of turning ground water, which is mineral dense into bottled water, which may have been stripped of these minerals and made more acidic by the need to extend its shelf life.

To put things in perspective… fizzy drinks such as Coco Cola have a pH balance of around 2.3.

Here is the article I am referring to and it is important to read if you are relying solely on bottled mineral water for your daily fluid intake. This is particularly important if your children are also relying on bottled mineral water as their teeth are not yet fully developed and it may impact their second teeth before they have erupted.

We have now moved to filtered tap water to remove the chlorine, and use a reusable water bottle which is not plastic.

Unhealthy PH of Most Bottled Water

Acidity is a major concern associated with bottled water. Anyone eating or drinking an average American diet needs more alkalinity from their water, because they’re already inundated with too many acids in their diets. Our bodies need balance to be healthy. Much of this page is devoted to exposing the acidity of many of the most popular brands of bottled water.

Why are Most of the Bottled Water Brands So Acidic?

One reason why so many brands of bottled water are acidic is that most methods of purifying water used by the bottling companies use extreme filtration and ozonation to treat the water before bottling it. Neither of these processes make the water healthier, and they are NOT better than what your local water company does. Extreme measures of filtration make the water acidic. Take a minute to follow this link if you’re not sure why drinking alkaline water is far more healthy for people.The consensus among water quality regulating groups and health researchers is that bottled water is inferior to one’s health than our average-quality US tap water. Here are explanations of methods used by bottling companies along with 1) why the companies use these methods and 2) why they are unhealthy:

Extreme Filtration: The majority of the bottled water companies use extreme filtration [ion-exchange, demineralization, reverse osmosis, distillation, deionization or any combination of these]. Regardless of the source, wells, springs, rivers, lakes, and municipal water supplies, when you use extreme filtration you create dead-water. Dead water is void of all healthy minerals, similar to acid rain. It’s called dead water because of the death of tissues, cells and life caused by this type of water. Part of the water cycle and cycle of life is for rain-water (which is acidic) to soak into the ground, trickle through layers of calcium and other rock and in the process it becomes alkalized by the healthy alkaline minerals in the soil and bedrock. Defying nature, and with one foul swoop, bottling companies “treat” the water by removing everything from it, including all of the healthy minerals. This is the cheapest way to go, because with this type of filtration they can use any water; they don’t have to use expensive specialty filters; and they can locate themselves anywhere.

Some water bottling companies tap into the source water of a particular area that has already good ground water (not needing extreme filtration), but even if they don’t kill it with extreme filtration the popular measures used by bottling companies is to ozonate the water to sanitize it. This is necessary because the water will sit on a shelf for a very long time and will grow algae and other gross things if it isn’t sanitized. Ozonation puts acidity into the water though. Basically the rule is: to KILL LIFE & KEEP IT FROM GROWING — MAKE THE WATER ACIDIC. But if you follow that logic further you can see that acidic water (which kills living things) is going to kill our cells too!

In all cases bottling the water negates the benefits of the good ground water. As explained in #2, above, you just can’t do it any other way.

In addition to acidifying the water, ozonation also adds harmful free-radicals to it. The process of ozonation is basically infusing the water with oxygen free radicals. Our bodies need balance and too many free-radicals can be unhealthy for the body.

Electrolytes: Extreme filtration also removes healthy electrolytes from the water. We need these electrolytes for our cells to function properly, and they are often hard to come by. It’s far better to consume the electrolytes naturally dissolved in water than to add some in later on with some man-made formula.

There are many trace minerals found in water that are removed with extreme filtration. Without enough minerals as water passes through the body’s tissues and joints it absorbs minerals from them like a vacuum or sponge. Your bones, joints and muscles need the dissolved minerals from the water, and they certainly do not need to lose their minerals to the water passing through. It’s a process we all learned in high school, called diffusion. in order to fill the void created by stripping the water of its minerals it will act as a vacuum cleaner for minerals in your body. This probably won’t do much if you consume just a little bottled water, but if you drink a lot of extremely purified water it will rob your body of significant amounts of its healthy, essential minerals that it needs.

Bottled water is likely to be more acidic by the time it reaches you than the bottling company reports it was at the factory. In a recent research study, most of the bottled water tested by the Dental Hygienists’ Association had an even more acidic pH when tested in the lab than the value listed in the bottling companies’ water quality reports. Dental health relies on a balanced pH diet. It is well known to hygienists that dental erosion and tooth decay is often caused by over consumption of acidic foods and beverages.

Further on down this page you can find many charts and videos showing the pH of dozens of brands of bottled water. As you can see the majority are acidic. If you insist on getting bottled water or have to for the lack of a healthy water source, I highly recommend that you alkalize it minimally with the PH Pitcher.

I do suggest that you read the article in its entirety and it also has charts indentifying the acidity and alkalinity of the most popular brands of mineral water in the USA and UK. Remember that the lower the number the more acidic the mineral water.

Check out your mineral water:

I hope that you have found this of interest and your feedback is always appreciated.. thanks Sally.

©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.

If you would like to browse by health books and fiction you can find them here:

Thanks for dropping in and please feel free to spread the message as far and wide as possible. thanks Sally




Smorgasbord Health Column – Over the counter eye drops and side-effects by Sally Cronin

There are several reason why someone might suddenly feel dizzy and it is important to have it checked out if it goes on for more than a day or two. It could be an inner ear problem, low blood pressure or something very simple, such as over use of eye drops.

Many of us use eye drops that can be bought over the counter or have been prescribed for us by a doctor to treat an infection or following eye surgery.

They are kept in the medicine cabinet and some people use every morning to treat red or tired eyes or to add some extra blue or sparkle. However, as with any product we put into our bodies there can be side effects. And although we think we are just bathing our eyes, the chemicals in the eye drops are entering our bloodstream.

A couple of years ago, I was asked to film a segment for a television programme, and I noticed that I looked a bit bleary-eyed (too much blogging no doubt). So I bought some eye-drops over the counter and used for the next week and then once or twice a week after that. My eyes were certainly bluer and had an extra sparkle!

After about a week, I noticed that I was getting dizzy spells, and they would last most of the morning. It was almost like vertigo and I became concerned that something was wrong. It take supplements such as Vitamin D and the herb Echinacea daily at this time of the year and also B-Complex occasionally. I had not reacted to those before and thought perhaps it might be because I needed to have my eyes tested.

This I did immediately, and my eyes were absolutely fine, and after a thorough examination I knew that there was nothing sinister happening behind the eyes too.

I then kept a full diary of what I was taking or using for a week and I identified that the days I was using the eye drops first thing in the morning where the days that I felt dizzy by mid-morning for several hours.

I stopped using the drops and have not had a problem since. This led me to take a look at some of the more common eye drops sold over the counter for cosmetic and allergy relief, and also those that are prescribed for conditions such as glaucoma.

Whilst there are some eye conditions that require the use of drops for their treatment and should not be stopped without consulting your doctor, the over the counter variety do need to be carefully monitored for side effects.

Whilst mild dizziness might be an inconvenience it can also be dangerous if you are driving or working with dangerous machinery. Vertigo is also very unpleasant and when it becomes persistent is also dangerous in certain circumstances.

If you have been using eye drops cosmetically or for allergies and have been experiencing either reaction, then I suggest you discuss the matter with a pharmacist, to find an alternative or you take other measures to keep your eyes clear of allergens and sparkling.

Here is a couple of remedies that I have used for many years for me and pets (when not taking the short cut to buying drops)

Some remedies for tired or irritated eyes.

  • Heat 8 oz of distilled water with a teaspoon of salt until the salt dissolves, and then cool to lukewarm. Gently wash the eyes with a cotton wool ball soaked in the solution and repeat two or three times a day. The salt is anti-bacterial and is great for use as a therapy for other parts of the body too..
  • To relax and freshen tired eyes pour boiling water over chamomile or green tea bags and when cool place over the eyelids for ten minutes and repeat twice a day.
  • You can add three or four drops of rosewater to a cup of water and use this to wash over and around the eyes and some people do use rosewater drops as an alternative to over the counter products.
  • Then there is the old sliced cucumber remedy.. placed over your eyelids and lying down for ten minutes to relax does help but I usually drop off…

Allergens and our eyes.

I a number of posts on  hay fever and other allergic reactions in the Health Column but with seasonal allergies it can be difficult to pinpoint the culprit.

Part of the problem is that pollens and other allergens, such as cat dander, are attracted to us like magnets and we carry them around on our clothing, hands and particularly in our hair.

When it comes to the eyes one of the common contact area is our pillows. Overnight our head and more importantly our hair moves around over the surface of the pillow and then we bury our faces in it.

It is a pain to wash your hair every night especially if it is on the long side… but you can brush it thoroughly and also wear an eye mask. Changing your pillow case every day and the towels you use to wipe your face is also a good idea.

Foods that can cause an allergic reaction that results in eye irritations.

The most common suspects are dairy, eggs, nuts, soy and shellfish but milder reactions can also come from consuming certain meats such as pork, spices such as garlic and mustard and products used in industrial foods such as gelatine and MSG (monosodium glutamate)

It is a complicated business trying to find out which particular food is the culprit and the only way that I have found that is effective is to keep a food diary for two weeks.. Note the days that you have a reaction in the form of sneezing, eye irritation and possibly stomach upsets and isolate the food from that day.

Stop eating those particular foods for a week and if you are clear of reactions then re-introduce them one a time and a week apart.

One of the other issues is the accumulation of an allergen in your system. For example I can eat strawberries everyday when they are in season and on the fifth or sixth day I begin to sneeze and my eyes become itchy.. Eat once a week and I don’t have a problem.

Usually the food or fluid culprit is the one you are eating everyday or at least three times a week. Keeping the food diary will help identify that ingredient.

Foods that provide the nutrients for healthy eyes.

There are a number of nutrients that are essential for eye health and include Vitamins A, C and E, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Zinc, Lutein and Zeaxanthin.

Best foods to provide these are salmon and other cold water fish, Turkey, seeds and nuts, Carrots and Sweet Potatoes, Strawberries and blueberries, dark green vegetables such as kale, spinach and Brussel sprouts.

All these foods are easy to incorporate regularly into your diet and in the long term will help protect your eyesight.

I will be going into more detail about specific allergies and other conditions where food can be a trigger as we move through the new series.

Here is a link to some of the reported side effects of eye drops.. Always read the small print on the product or ask your doctor when he prescribes the medicated variety what you can expect. Potential risk of Over the Counter Eye Drops

©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:

You can find all the posts on health in this directory:


Smorgasbord Health Column- The Female Reproductive System – Endocrine System and Hormones.

In the last post Part One  I looked at the major organs and systems that make up the female reproductive system. In this post I am going to cover the endocrine system that manages our reproductive function throughout our lives.

Baby girls are born with over 400,000 eggs in their ovaries and over the next 10 to 12 years their endocrine system will mature and various physical, mental and emotional changes will take place. Before I cover some of the health issues later in the series, I want to cover the system that manages our reproductive system and hormones. Hormones are vital not just to an efficient reproductive system but to our health in general.. Their protection is essential and maintaining adequate levels throughout our lifetime can be a challenge. And it is not helped by pronouncements by ‘experts’ on the food we eat and the medication that they prescribe to reduce one of the key elements of our hormone production which is cholesterol.

The Endocrine system not only produces the sex hormones but also the other hormones necessary for the healthy growth and development of every cell, organ and function within our bodies. Usually responsible for the slower processes such as cell growth the endocrine glands and hormones will also work with other systems such as the nervous system to ensure the smooth running of processes like breathing and movement.


A gland is a group of cells that produce and secretes chemicals from materials that it has selected from the blood stream. It processes these raw materials and either secretes the end product in specific areas, such as the salivary glands or sweat glands in the case of the exocrine glands, or directly back into the bloodstream from the endocrine system.

The main glands that make up the endocrine system are the hypothalamus, pituitary (master gland), thyroid, parathyroids, adrenals, pineal, ovaries and testes.

The pancreas is also part of the endocrine system but is associated more with the digestive system and digestive enzymes and I covered this gland earlier.

A healthy reproductive system for men or women begins in the brain.


The Hypothalamus

The other name of the hypothalamus is actually the word homeostasis, which means balance, which is very appropriate. It is located in the middle of the base of the brain and is connected to the pituitary lobes, which form the most important gland in the body and is often referred to as the Master Gland.

The hypothalamus regulates body temperature, blood sugar, water balance, fat metabolism, appetite, body weight, sensory input like taste and smell and sight, sleep, sexual behaviour, emotions, hormone productions, menstrual cycle regulation and the automatic nervous system that controls automatic functions such as breathing and the heart muscle.

The Pituitary gland

The pituitary gland has an anterior and posterior lobe. The anterior lobe regulates the activity of the thyroid, adrenals and the reproductive glands producing a number of hormones.

  • Growth hormone stimulates the growth of bone and body tissues and plays a part in the metabolism of nutrients and minerals.
  • Prolactin, which activates milk production in mothers who are breast-feeding.
  • Thyrotropin which stimulates the thyroid to produce hormones.
  • Corticotrophin which stimulates the adrenal glands to produce its hormones.
  • Gonadotrophs are cells that secret the two hormones that stimulate hormone production in the ovaries and testes. These are called luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and whilst not essential to life are essential to reproduction.

The pituitary gland also secretes endorphins, which act as natural pain relief within the nervous system. It is also the gland that releases hormones that signal the ovaries and testes to make the sex hormones and controls the ovulation and menstrual cycle.

The posterior lobe of the pituitary has two main functions one of which is the release of a hormone to control water balance through its effect on the kidneys and urine output. The second is the release of oxytocin the trigger for contractions of the womb during labour.

The Thyroid

The thyroid is located in the front of the lower neck and is shaped like a bow tie. It produces the hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine which are responsible for the speed with which cells burn fuel to provide energy. This is our metabolism or the speed at which we operate. The production and release of these two hormones is controlled by Thyrotropin, which is secreted by the pituitary gland.

The thyroid needs iodine and selenium to produce an enzyme, which converts the amino acid tyrosine into thyroxine. If thyroxine is at a less than optimum level there will be weight gain, fatigue, intestinal problems and thickening skin.

The Parathyroids

Attached to the thyroid are four tiny glands that release parathyroid hormone that is responsible with calcitonin also produced in the thyroid for calcium balance between blood and bones. If this is not working then too much calcium is leached from the bones leaving them vulnerable to osteoporosis

The Adrenal glands

The Adrenal glands are actually situated on top of each kidney and comprise two parts. The first is the cortex, which produces hormones called corticosteroids, which determine male characteristics, sex drive, stress response, metabolism and the excretion of sodium and potassium from the kidneys.

The second part of the gland is the medulla, which produces catecholamines such as epinephrine (adrenaline) to increase blood pressure and heart rate in times of danger or stress.

If your stress levels remain high for long periods of time there will be an effect on the rest of your body. The body slows down digestion, maintenance and repair so that it is ready to run at any moment. It definitely speeds up the ageing process because like anything that is not maintained it slowly deteriorates. It will have a very big impact on all the rest of the hormones in the body including your sex drive, which is why stress plays a very important role in problems such as impotence and infertility.

The Pineal gland

This gland is located in the middle of the brain and secretes melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep cycles. Being tired all the time will certainly not help maintain a healthy hormone balance.

Ovaries and Testes

These two glands are known as the gonads and are the main source for the sexual hormones. In the female these are the ovaries which I described in the previous post. They secrete oestrogen and progesterone as needed, particularly in girls who have reached puberty and are developing breasts and layers of fat around the hips and thighs that would be used primarily to nourish a foetus during pregnancy. Both hormones regulate the menstrual cycle, which is why an imbalance can cause irregular periods or infertility.

Oestrogen hormones include estradiol, estrone and estriol and as well as their role in the developing female they also have important effects on organs outside of the reproductive system. In fact they have an effect on over 300 different tissues throughout a woman’s body including in the central nervous system, liver and the urinary tract. One of their functions is in maintaining bone mass as a woman ages, particularly after the menopause. They also have a positive effect on blood fat and therefore help prevent atherosclerosis and possible heart disease. As we age our skin tends to thicken and oestrogen hormones help preserve the elasticity of the skin as well as promote a sense of general wellbeing.

Progesterone also has duties outside of its reproductive remit and that is its influence on body temperature. This is why taking your temperature every morning during the month can help you pinpoint when you might be ovulating.

As these hormones diminish so does the activity within the ovaries. They become smaller and lighter and the blood vessels that supply them atrophy. The follicles decrease in number and fewer and fewer eggs are produced sometimes skipping several months at a time resulting in irregular periods. Eventually egg production ceases completely, as does menstruation, and after twelve months you are usually unlikely to conceive but it is recommended that you still practice birth control for up to two years after completely finishing your periods.

More about Hormones

Hormones are some of the most powerful chemical messengers found in the body and are secreted by glands that transfer information and instructions from one set of cells to another. They circulate throughout the body but will only affect those cells that have been programmed to respond to their specific message. All hormone levels can be influenced by our general health, stress levels and the balance of fluid and minerals such as salt in the blood stream. This is the reason that it is necessary to have a healthy and balanced lifestyle and diet to ensure the reproductive system is functioning, as it should.

Most of us, when we talk about hormones, are usually referring to the reproductive ones such as testosterone, progesterone and oestrogen. We all know that as we get older our reproductive hormones decrease and both men and women go through a menopause. Women are more affected by this obviously, but men too experience a decrease in testosterone levels and the changes that this brings about.

However, our sex hormones are just three of the many hormones that are produced in our bodies and even though our reproductive abilities may decrease as we get older, the hormones involved are still active within our body. If they and our other hormones are looked after they will contribute to a healthy, energetic and youthful appearance. Sex does not stop when we get middle aged and maintaining a good diet and active lifestyle influence a healthy and functioning reproductive system.

Each gland within the endocrine system may produce one or more different hormone to affect a process in the body. For example the pancreas secretes Insulin, glucagon and Stomostatin. Insulin and glucagon are secreted according to the level of blood sugar and Stomostatin is the referee to ensure that not too much of either is secreted and therefore blood sugar levels remain balanced.

Hormones are manufactured from components of food, which means that the type of diet you follow has a major impact on keeping hormone levels in balance. Hormones are either protein-like as in insulin, or fat like as in steroid hormones.

An important element of hormone production is cholesterol. Yes that demon that in the 80s and 90s was banished from our diet in the form of healthy fats and foods such as eggs! We were all recommended to follow a high carbohydrate, low fat diet and of course now we have done a complete U-turn. Not surprisingly this has had a huge impact on our health including increasing rates of obesity, cancer and dementia. Healthy fats and all cholesterol are essential for healthy hormone production, brain and heart health. It is only when the Low Density cholesterol or LDL is oxidised by poor diet, including too many sugars that it can become a health issue.

You will find myth busting facts about cholesterol in this Cholesterol and it is important to include sufficient amounts in your diet to keep the stores adequate for your hormone production.

Whatever the level of hormones produced by particular glands, if they are not communicating when they get to their destination – such as the thyroid gland, kidneys or ovaries – they will not be effective and the ongoing functions they are supposed to stimulate will not be completed. This includes the reproductive process which requires the balance of all most of the hormones for successful production, fertilisation and then development of the egg by a sperm.

How do we create the perfect environment to produce and maintain our hormones.

You cannot go far wrong by eating an 80% natural diet with a wide variety of fresh vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, wholegrain carbohydrates and fruits. Having healthy hormones is more about what you don’t eat, and the one food that it is a good idea to cut right back is sugars. This is not to say that you should go sugar free especially when the sugar comes from natural sources such as fruits. I do mean the chemically engineered additives in most industrial foods (ie. If it comes in a packet, can or jar). There are certain health benefits to be found in dark chocolate over 52% for example but eating 100gms at a time will just make you fat! A couple of squares a day should do the trick.

What is very important in your diet.

Omega 3s

One of the most important food sources is essential fatty acids which are Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids (polyunsaturated fatty acids). The body must have these essential fatty acids, yet cannot make them itself. One of the main functions of essential fatty acids is the production of prostaglandins, which are hormone-like substances that regulate many body functions. They basically control every cell of the body on a second-by-second basis by acting as interpreters between the hormones and the cells they are being delivered too. They are required for energy production, increasing oxidation in the body and metabolic rates. Omega 3 in particular is considered to provide protection against certain cancers including breast cancer.

They are particularly important in balancing all hormones, including the reproductive ones, and the brain does not function without essential fatty acids.

Monounsaturated fats are also important as both these types of fats protect brain cells and the membranes and ensure effective passing of nutrients within the brain. This is particularly important with regard to the health of the hypothalamus which is our master controller.

What part do amino acids play in hormone production?

Amino acids are the building blocks that make up protein, which of course is what we are made of. Vitamins and minerals can’t perform their specific functions effectively if the necessary amino acids are not present. Amino acids are either classified as essential or non-essential. The “non-essential” ones can be manufactured in our bodies but the “essential” amino acids have to be obtained from food.

All hormones require amino acids for their production. For example L-Arginine encourages growth hormones and constitutes 80% of semen, which is why a deficiency causes sterility, and having sufficient of this amino acid can help with prostate problems. L-Tryptophan helps in the production of serotonin and melatonin and assists in the balance of our emotional behaviour. L-Glutamine is helpful for thyroid gland function. Taurine is used for hyperactivity and poor brain function.

What about the health of the other hormone producing glands?

Most of the above applies throughout the body. A diet rich in antioxidants such as Vitamin A, C and E and essential fatty acids and amino acids will promote health everywhere.

Having created a near perfect working environment for the bosses (the Hypothalamus and the Pituitary), we can turn our attention to the health of the others:

  • Thyroid (metabolism, energy and growth)
  • Adrenal Gland (sex drive, stress response and metabolism) and
  • Pancreas (Blood sugar levels).

If these organs are producing the hormones they are supposed to, in the right quantities, many of problems we associate with old age would be much more manageable. Including energy and the ability to process our nutrients efficiently keeping us away from degenerative disease such as arthritis.

Thyroid image

Thank you for reading and please feel free to comment or share. best wishes Sally

You can find all the 2018 health related posts in this directory:




Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Music, Books, Food and End of Summer Party with amazing Guests,

Welcome to the weekly round up and the last day of the End of Summer Party. I have so enjoyed seeing so many of you over the weekend and have put on several pounds eating the left overs from the various meals… If you missed the posts at the time, no worries the food is still fresh and you can still meet the guests and enjoy the banter.

Thanks for all the support to get the posts noticed and I am very appreciative. I love this community and it is a lot of fun being part of it.

I was not able to play all the music requests but will share the ones not played in the Blogger Daily this coming week.

Paul Andruss did a fabulous post to kick off last year’s end of summer party over the same weekend and as he is busy at the moment with other projects, I asked if he minded me using again to kick this one off…

The great new is that Paul has taken the time out to write a brand new post for the end of the week…when the last of the music has been played and we head into September.. Look out for it Friday.

The End of Summer Party – Brunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner and Sunday Lunch with 35 guests. There is still time to pop into all the meals and to leave your links in the comments. It is a place to meet great writers and supporters of others. Don’t be shy.

And here are the other posts from the week that you might have missed.

The start of a new series with William Price King for The Music Column – The Jazz Instrumentalists. Richard Galliano – Accordion

The Cookery Column with Carol Taylor – Carol had technical problems this week so I shared our nutritional guide to Salmon and recipes from last year.

Getting to Know You Sunday Interview with author Patty Fletcher.

Personal Stuff – Short stories – What’s in a Name – David – In Remembrance

Letters from America – My parents last week and visit to Sam Houston Museum and Galveston.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New books on the shelves.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Author Update and Reviews.

The Blogger Daily – Blog posts that are worth sharing.

Tofino Photography, Dan Alatorre, Adele Marie Park and Judy E. Martin.

Karen Ingalls, Lifelong Metamorphoses and Cynthia Reyes.

Vashti Quiroz-Vega, Nicholas Rossis and Stevie Turner

Lizzie Chantree, R.K Brainerd, The Book People.

Cathy Ryan, Janet Gogerty, Judith Barrow and the Narbeth Book Fair.

The Health Column

Foods to boost your blood health.

Part one of the female reproductive system.

Nutrients the body needs – Choline, B8, Inositol, Bioflavonoids, Co-Enzyme Q10, Trace Elements.

Humour and the Afternoon Video

Thank you again for dropping in and for all your help in promoting the posts. Have a great week.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Nutrients the Body Needs – Choline, B8- Inositol, Bioflavonoids, Co-Enzyme Q10, Trace Elements

In previous posts I have featured the most essential of the nutrients our body needs to be healthy..there are a few more that need to be added to the list including Choline that was only added to the list for daily health in the late 1990s. To obtain such a wide spread of nutrients it is very important that you make sure your diet is as varied as possible.

It is easy to believe that if you are having a glass of orange juice a day that is all the fruit you need. However, as you will see fruits contain different nutrients in varying quantities, and to get sufficient of each of the nutrients required you need a cocktail of fruits.

You can find the other posts in this directory:

Choline: Officially this is usually grouped with the B Vitamins but because it has a very clear role of its own to perform it is worth showcasing separately.

Choline is of the few substances that can penetrate the brain membranes, raising levels of acetylcholine a neurotransmitter that may improve focus and memory. Acetylcholine is also necessary for stimulating the contraction of all muscles including the facial muscles. This may help maintain a youthful appearance. Choline also seems to help with controlling cholesterol, keeping arteries clear.

It is found in egg yolks, liver, whole grains, green leafy vegetables such as spinach and fish.

B8 -Inositol: Another nutrient that is grouped with the B-Vitamins.  It is usually not listed as essential for diet but as most vitamins, particularly within a group are synergistic it would make commonsense to include regularly to provide its benefits. Inositol is required for proper formation of cell membranes. It affects nerve transmission and helps in transporting fats within the body. It is also necessary for the normal metabolism of insulin and calcium.

It is found in nuts, beans, milk, whole grains, lecithin, wheat and wheat bran, cantaloupe melon, egg yolks, liver, fish and oranges.

Bioflavonoids, sometimes known as Vitamin P; There are over 500 different types of Bioflavonoids with some of the more common ones being hesperidin, myrecetin, nobilitin, rutin, tangeritin and quercitin. They maintain the health of cell membranes and collagen and they increase the effectiveness of antioxidants, most notably Vitamin C, which is the vitamin that they are found alongside with in food.

It is water-soluble and the best sources are apricots, cherries, cantaloupe melon, papaya and the skin and pith of citrus fruit.

Co- Enzyme Q 10 – Ubiquinone: Q10 has a widespread distribution throughout the body and is used by the body to metabolise food into the fuel ATP (adenosine triphosphate) that the body needs for energy. It is a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from free radicals and also acts as a bodyguard for Vitamin E, which is vital for cell membranes and keeping blood cholesterol at a healthy balance. Some research has indicated it might help increase sperm count in men and it has been shown to help in the healing process, particularly in the mouth and gums. It is essential for the immune system and heart function.

Best sources: Fish,Meat particularly the heart and organ meats, egg yolk, milk fat, wheat germ and wholegrains, but usually needed in supplementation form.


Boron: Found in trace amounts in food and the human body and there is some debate as to its usefulness as a nutrient. However, there may be a link to bone health and density but there does seem to be some merit in its ability to reduce the loss of calcium in urine. This might lead to a lower risk of osteoporosis.

Best sources Raisins, Prunes, Nuts. Non citrus fruit,Vegetables and legumes.

Iodine is a trace mineral that is needed to make thyroid hormones that maintain metabolism in all the cells of the body. It is one of those trace elements that seems to be prevalent in soil around the world and is therefore present in a wide variety of foods including vegetables and fruit. Most of us will obtain enough from our diet but there were parts of the world in both the US and UK for example where local produce was being grown in earth that was deficient and this resulted in an increase in thyroid related diseases. Goitre

Best sources for iodine – Eggs, Dairy, Live yoghurt, Seafood, Iodised salt, Sea vegetables such as kelp, Cod, Mackerel, Haddock, Strawberries, Bananas, Nuts

©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 – Eating Bacon and Cancer – Both sides to the story!

I posted on this topic three years ago and it seems that the scare stories are doing the rounds again about eating bacon and other cured meats and cancer.

There is no doubt in my mind that if your diet consisted solely of bacon, sausages and ham that you would suffer from some form of health crisis. But for curing meat to preserve it is something our ancestors have been doing for thousands of years. Admittedly, not with some of the modern day chemicals, but if you buy smartly that should not be an issue.

Time to revisit this and look at two sides of the reseach and to make and informed decision.

Personally we have a three rashers each a week, usually chopped up in meals or with some poached eggs. We also eat ham from time to time and I buy organic sausages which we have at least once a week.

Since our very origins; before we began walking on two legs, we have eaten meat. As we evolved we also preserved the meat that we hunted by wind-drying and salting. Some cultures still do this. This means that since the origins of man we have eaten naturally cured flesh.

So why is the consumption of cured bacons and hams and red meat causing headlines such as ‘Eating Bacon causes Cancer’?

Nothing pokes my inner bear than to see headlines that cause panic in people and disperse misinformation like confetti at a wedding.

If you ate nothing but red meat, bacon and sausages your body would not be able to function efficiently, and this includes maintaining an immune system to prevent the development of cancer cells. We are omnivores and so not totally carniverous, and need a balanced diet. Plus in cured meats there is a high percentage of nitrates that disrupt your chemical balance.

However, if you are having a couple of rashers of bacon, a steak and sausages once a week combined with a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains and other proteins such as fish and chicken, you should not be in that high risk category.

It will also depend on many other factors including how much sugar you have in your diet, have you ever smoked, what is your genetic make up, exercise levels and weight.

Here is what I consider to be a very well balanced response to the recent headlines.

And here are some that are not as balanced as they should be.

This from the Physicians Committee for responsible medicine.

Bacon and other processed meats can cause cancer, experts say

Here is an excerpt from the report on Colorectal cancer from World Cancer Research fund. This cancer is the third most common in the world so a good example to use.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the world, with nearly 1.4 million new cases diagnosed in 2012.
 Approximately 95 per cent of colorectal cancers are adenocarcinomas. Other types of cancer that can occur here include mucinous carcinomas and adenosquamous carcinomas.

The Continuous Update Project Panel judged that there was convincing evidence that consuming red meat, processed meat and alcoholic drinks (men); body fatness, abdominal fatness and adult attained height increase the risk of colorectal cancer. There was also convincing evidence that physical activity and consuming foods high in dietary fibre protect against this cancer. Garlic, milk and calcium probably protect and consuming alcoholic drinks (women) probably increase the risk of this cancer.

Preventability estimates using the new findings from the Continuous Update Project show that about 47% of cases of colorectal cancer in the UK can be prevented by eating and drinking healthily, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight.

The statistics charts show the top 20 countries in the world for diagnosis of colorectal cancer. The UK is not on that list. Nor strangely is the USA.

Factors that need to be taken into consideration with research studies.

The problem with studies carried out on humans in developed countries is the number of factors involved that could contribute to the development of cancer.  Humans are now not good test subjects as we are in the main already contaminated.

Even long term studies have results that are dubious because unless you eliminate all the pollutants, chemicals, genetic factors, personal environmental contaminants, stress, previous diseases, use of prescription drugs, over the counter medication, recreational drugs, smoking etc… you are not going to get a clean and definitive result.

As to animal studies regarding food consumption and cancers…..force-feeding a rat only one specific food it would not eat naturally is both futile and unacceptable.

The modern diet.

Our modern diet of high sugars and industrially manufactured and tampered with foods, are not in the form that the body recognises. It expects sugars to come from fruit and certain vegetable carbohydrates or honey. It can only process nutrients if it comes in a form that the body is programmed to extract them from.

All our systems including the digestive, reproductive, immune and nervous system rely heavily on natural foods to provide those nutrients. But instead it is given industrially produced, chemically enhanced alternatives.

With all its systems running at below optimum levels the risk of developing cancer is high.

The Vitamin D factor.

Although Spain, where we lived for 17 years, is on the list of the top twenty countries where the highest concentrations of this type of cancer are diagnosed, it is strange that other countries who enjoy eating, not only red meat, but also cured hams, bacons, sausages etc such as Italy and France are not on the list.

Perhaps that is because they also eat a great deal more vegetables and fruit, moderate whole grains and less sugar. They like Spain also get extended seasons of sunshine and therefore more Vitamin D.

This for me is reinforced by the prominence of countries such as Norway, Denmark and The Netherlands at the top of the list, where Vitamin D is tough to come by due to reduced sunlight.

Here are some reports that you might find interesting, simply because a deficiency of a nutrient is far more conclusive to me at a fundamental level, than blaming cancer on rashers of bacon.

If you have a balanced unprocessed diet 80% of the time, it is unlikely that having a couple of rashers of bacon two or three times a week is going to undo all your hard work.

If you do develop cancer it will be a combination of many factors but if you have a strong immune system and healthy diet you have a great chance of beating the disease. Especially with early detection.

I recommend as always a varied diet with all the food groups included and in moderation. Buy top of the range organic bacon, ham and sausages and regard them as a luxury item. Once or twice a week as part of a healthy balanced diet is unlikely to be harmful, but do take into account the other factors that I mentioned.

If you are deficient in Vitamin D and other immune boosting nutrients, rarely eat fresh fruit and vegetables, eat too much fat, drink to much alcohol, take little exercise and smoke, you are at risk of developing health issues.

You can find a link to my posts on the immune system and cancers in the health 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 – Nutrients the Body Needs – Potassium – High Blood Pressure, Adrenal Glands.

Potassium (K) is the most essential cation (positively charged electrolyte.) It reacts with sodium and chloride to maintain a perfect working environment in and around each cell.

It is necessary for normal kidney function and it also plays a part in heart and bone health with a particular role in smooth muscle contraction. The heart muscle must maintain a smooth and regular heartbeat and correct levels of potassium in the body will help regulate this.

Some studies are indicating that low dietary potassium intake is linked to high blood pressure and that combined with calcium and magnesium rich foods can go a long way to preventing this condition from developing.

A balance of potassium, calcium and magnesium is essential to maintain bone mass and a deficiency is linked to osteoporosis.

Who might be deficient in Potassium?

With a normal healthy and balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables there should be no reason for a person to be deficient in potassium.

  • The elderly are more at risk, as total body potassium levels deplete with age.
  • Also anyone who is taking certain prescribed medication may find their potassium levels dropping, particularly if they are taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) or ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure.
  • There may be a deficit of potassium in people who store iron in excess amounts such as in the disease hemochromatosis (iron is stored in the liver and builds up causing a number of serious health conditions.
  • Taking over the counter medication such as antacids or laxatives can also cause a loss of too much potassium.
  • Insulin is another drug that can cause a decrease in potassium and therefore diabetics must watch their diet carefully to ensure that they are receiving sufficient.
  • There are occasional problems that might deplete the mineral’s stores such as a stomach upsets with diarrhoea and vomiting, excessive exercise resulting in heavy sweating, crash dieting and taking diuretics.
  • Drinking lots of tea and coffee can also increase the amount of potassium excreted in the urine.
  • It is also important that you take in sufficient amounts of magnesium rich foods to balance the levels of potassium in the body.

What happens when levels of Potassium are out of balance in the body.

If you have too much potassium in your blood it is called hyperkalemia and too little is called hypokalemia.

Hyperkalemia might be caused by a number of factors including suffering severe burns, undergoing chemotherapy or severe muscle loss through illness. There are a number of conditions that inhibit the normal excretion of potassium in the urine and these include kidney failure and a problem with the adrenal glands.

The adrenal gland makes a hormone called aldosterone that signals the body to excrete or conserve potassium based on the bodies needs and in hyperkalemia there may be less hormone produced or excreted.

Symptoms of too much potassium in your blood might be tingling in fingers and toes, muscle weakness and numbness. It can lead to irregular heartbeats and further heart problems if not treated.

Hypokalemia is more common as this is often dietary related. It can also be a result of a problem in the adrenal glands but in this case it is when the hormone aldosterone is retained causing the kidneys to conserve the potassium instead of excreting it.

The symptoms of too little potassium would include muscle pain, irritability, weakness and possibly paralysis.

There are some studies that are linking deficiency of potassium to a number of medical conditions including increased risk of stroke. Certainly in patients who already have elevated blood pressure, including dietary potassium seems to reduce the risk of stroke, but not apparently if it is given in supplementation form.

Another condition, which can result in potassium deficiency, is Inflammatory Bowel disease such as colitis or Crohn’s disease. In this case it is usual to supplement with the mineral, but only under medical supervision. A diet high in potassium will help, as foods like bananas are also very soothing for intestinal problems.

Other studies show that children who suffer from asthma and therefore have poor lung function may have diets that are too low in potassium, and there may be an improvement by increasing the amounts of fresh fruit, vegetables and fish in their diet.

If you feel that you might be suffering from a potassium deficiency a simple blood test and examination will identify the problem. It is treated with a combination of diet and supplementation but these should only be taken under medical supervision to ensure the correct dosage is given and that there are no interactions with any medications.

If you are currently taking NSAIDs such as ibuprofen you should not take potassium supplements without medical advice. This applies to ACE inhibitors (elevated blood pressure), diuretics, Heparin (blood clots), Cyclosporine (anti-rejection drug) Trimethoprim (anti-biotic) and Beta Blockers (high blood pressure). All these drugs can increase the levels of potassium in your blood leading to potential health issues.

Dietary sources of Potassium

There are a wide variety of foods that you can include in your daily diet that will supply you with adequate amounts of potassium.

It is found in most fresh fruit and vegetables including:

  • apricots,
  • avocados,
  • bananas,
  • Brussel sprouts,
  • melon,
  • dates,
  • figs,
  • kiwi fruit,
  • milk,
  • nectarines,
  • oranges,
  • pears,
  • peanuts,
  • potatoes,
  • prune juice,
  • raisins,
  • Low salt alternatives
  • spinach,
  • tomato
  • yoghurt.

If you combine these foods with magnesium and calcium rich foods your body will adjust the balance of potassium it needs to keep your heart and kidneys healthy.

wholegrainsThese would include:

  • broccoli,
  • cheese,
  • milk,
  • salmon,
  • sardines,
  • beans,
  • halibut,
  • nuts,
  • oysters,
  • seeds
  • wholegrains.

I hope you have found this helpful and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask.. thanks Sally.

©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 – A Vegan Approach to Nutrition- An Informed Choice by Sally Cronin

A Vegan Approach to Nutrition- An Informed Choice

In the course of the last twenty years I have met and worked with a number of vegan clients. My role has been to ensure that whatever dietary choices a person makes, that they are getting adequate amounts of the essential nutrients to keep the body healthy. It is not my place to dictate to anyone about those choices, as I do understand the issues involved. However those choices should not be made without careful research and also informed decisions to ensure that health is not compromised.

Having followed a vegetarian lifestyle for a number of years, I do empathise with the moral issues that surround including animal products in your diet, but I feel that it is important to make sure that there is an understanding of the impact on your body of depriving it of one or other food group without adequate substitution.

There are varying degrees of veganism. At one end of the scale you can follow a diet that excludes any meat, fish, and poultry but does contain dairy and other products that have not been produced by causing the death of an animal including foods such as honey.
At the other end of the scale you would also exclude any processed foods that have included any animal product, by-product or derivative. This would include preservatives such as E120 Cochineal, E542 – Edible bone phosphate, E631 –Sodium 5-inosinate, E901 – Beeswax, E904 –Shellac. There are approximately 50 other preservatives that are animal product derived which can mean a very busy time in the supermarket checking labels.

I do of course have an opinion about diets in general and whilst I do try not to enforce this opinion on others I do like to offer a balanced approach to the subject.

This is my philosophy that I share with all my clients whatever their dietary preferences. It is quite simply that our bodies are over 100,000 years old and that genetic changes occur rarely, probably as far apart as 10,000 years. It is also my opinion that the last three hundred years of man’s evolution are the worst in the body’s history due to the inclusion of sugars, hydrogenated fats, industrially manufactured foods and my favourite, fad diets.

In addition to this, having worked with diverse nationalities during my work in nutrition, I have come to appreciate that there is an ancestral component to our diet. For example I worked with two sisters from South America who had lived in Ireland for over 25 years since their early 20’s. Both of them developed severe arthritis and came to me for weight loss to alleviate the strain on their joints. Both were on medication for the problem and were depressed and felt that they were far older than 45 and 47 years old.

When I interviewed them both, I asked about their diet before they came to Ireland and discovered that as they had lived in the country rather than city and that they had followed a very traditional diet for their region. Ground rooted vegetables, rice, wholegrain flour products, lots of vegetables, seasonal fruit and meat shot for the pot when available. There were also several varieties of fish in the river that was caught fresh and included regularly through the week and there was goat’s milk and cheese available all the time.

I am sure that you can guess the type of diet that I asked them to follow.

In fact after 6 weeks many of their arthritis symptoms disappeared and they lost weight and were able to come off their medication eventually. Their bodies were not 45 and 47 they were in fact 100,000 years old and they had been fed for thousands of years on the same foods found in their native environment. Their bodies were finely attuned to processing those foods and extracting the nutrients it needed to be healthy from this traditional diet. When they came to Ireland in their 20’s they suddenly switched fuel to a western and industrially manufactured diet. The result was poor health, weight gain, premature aging and eventually chronic disease.

I have encountered the same problem with children who have been adopted from abroad who develop health and behavioural problems that are often dietary related.

Certainly there are races of humans who because of environmental considerations have very different diets. The Inuit Indians for example used to obtain most of the nutrients they needed from eating blubber and seal meat without the benefit of any grains or fruit and vegetables. Since the introduction of a primarily western based diet early in the 20th century including alcohol, the Inuit people now suffer from all our western health problems, to a higher degree, because it has been a far greater shock to their systems.

In Japan it used to be that the traditional diet included a great deal of soy and menopause symptoms and breast cancer were extremely low. Now after 70 years of a western style diet, the rates of breast cancer amongst women and prostate cancer among men are up there with our own. They do however benefit from still using more natural food sources than we do such as rice, fish and of course my favourite green tea but even that is beginning to change with every new generation.

For me a decision to change to a vegan diet should be made with an understanding that diet still has to be a priority to maintain health. Simply because, some components that are excluded, have been part of modern man’s nutritional intake for many thousands of years depending on genetic background. Their removal from the diet can have serious health implications.

For example honey is one of those animal products that I find totally acceptable provided it comes from organic, free range bee sources. Man has been using honey not only for its incredible nutritional punch but also for its traditional healing powers since the earliest recorded times.

I like to think that there are synergistic foods that should be included in the diet. For example cows and goats that are cared for in adequate outside grazing and that have an abundance of milk, which is sufficient for both calf and human consumption, should be considered an acceptable food source, provided there is not an intolerance to lactose. As long as these animals have not been harmed or deprived in the sharing of their milk or wool, who are we to second guess the last 15,000 years or so that we have been farmers and cultivators?

Yes I agree that mass and forced farming methods and the killing and use of animals in testing human related products is unacceptable. This relates also to the majority of medications that we take that have all been tested on animals. It is our responsibility as the consumer to shop and eat responsibly and that applies to our diet too.

This is particularly important if young teenagers decide to remove all animal related products from their diets during their growth phase. Substitutions need to be included to ensure that their bodies continue to mature and develop as they should. For example those dietary decisions can impact fertility 10 or 15 years later.

If you are Eastern in origin then traditionally your body may be more suited to following an extreme Vegan diet. If you are Western in origin then it is important to research the foods that provide you with those nutrients from established and informed websites.


My feeling is that if following a particular diet demands that you take man made supplements to support your health, you need to rethink your strategy. Your body requires a complex cocktail of nutrients to be healthy, energetic and vital. It has evolved processes to extract those nutrients from a very varied food source.

My basis for any healthy diet is to limit sugars by excluding any industrially produced foods and to ‘Cook from Scratch’. This does not mean excluding ‘processed’ foods such as milk, cheese and frozen or some canned fruits and vegetables. Most food has had some form of processing to get to our table for health reasons and it is important to distinguish between those products and those that have been severely chemically enhanced!

If your diet is rich in whole grains on a daily basis then you should be obtaining sufficient B vitamins. However, B12 is primarily found in animal products and should be taken in supplementation form if you are Vegan.

Buy high quality supplements and I recommend buying from a pharmacy or recognised health food group such as Holland & Barrett in the UK and also online at Higher Nature. You will find similar in your country of origin.

Most of our nutrients work together or stimulate the production of other important enzymes or chemical processes in the body. If you are removing the main source of protein from the diet then it is important to make sure that this is being supplied from another source. We are protein and require protein to repair and protect us.

The body needs approximately 1gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. Therefore a man who weighs 75 kilos would need a minimum 75 grams of protein per day depending on activity and lifestyle. We process animal and vegetable protein in a different way so I usually advise my clients to include an additional 25 grams per day.


For example for Breakfast – 1 cup of oats contains 6 gms of protein. 1 cup of soymilk 8 gms. Two slices of whole grain toast 5 gms . Two tbsp. Peanut Butter 8gms. Breakfast then will have supplied 26gms of your daily requirement.

Lunch Two slices of wholegrain toast 5gms. Tin of vegetarian baked beans 12gms. Total 17gms.

Dinner – 8 oz. tofu 16gms. Portion of broccoli 4gms along with other vegetables such as carrots and potatoes, 6oz cooked brown rice 5gms and 2 tbsp of chopped nuts 4gms. Total 29gms for the meal.

Snacks – Apart from fruit,nuts and seeds which should be eaten throughout the day. To obtain additional protein Glass of soy milk 7gms – wholegrain crackers 4 2gms and 2 tbsp peanut butter or soy cheese and yoghurts 8gms. Total 17- 25gms.

For the day this gives a total of 90 – 100gms – this can be adjusted for your body weight.

There are a number of Vegan foods that supply protein including the following which are in order of quantity of protein they contain.

Tempeh, Soybeans, Lentils, Black beans,
Kidney beans, Chickpeas, Pinto beans, Tofu,
Lima beans, Quinoa, Peas, Peanut butter,
Almonds, Soy Milk, Soy Yoghurt, Bulgur wheat,
Whole grain bread, Cashews, Brown rice, Spinach,
Broccoli, Potato.

Here are some links for easy to make Vegan meals that have a high nutritional content.

I hope that you have found the posts interesting and useful.. Please feel free to share.. thanks Sally.

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 you have found useful, as always I am happy to answer any questions. Sally

Smorgasbord Health Column – #Meningitis Alert- UK and US University and College students this Autumn.

There is a Meningitis alert out in the UK for students heading off to college or university in the autumn and I would imagine that this would apply in other countries too.

The daughter of a friend of ours contracted meningitis two weeks after arriving at university and was ill for some time. It is important that you make sure that your son or daughter have been vaccinated before they go. They will be coming into contact with hundreds of strangers, and are vulnerable to the wider variety of bacterial and viral infections they will come across. Very similar to children starting school for the first time!

What is Meningitis?

Meningitis is the inflammation of the thin tissue that surrounds the brain and the spinal cord, the meninges. There are a number of different strains both bacterial and viral. The most common form of the disease is viral and is contracted when the virus is inhaled either into the nose or mouth and then travels to the brain.

What are the symptoms

  • Can initially present as a cold.
  • The cold symptoms persist
  • A very high fever develops
  • Severe headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Possible nausea
  • sensitivity to loud noises and light
  • confusion.
  • Not everyone with meningitis will get a rash.

If left untreated it can lead to a stroke, hearing loss and result in pneumonia.

Bacterial meningitis is the more dangerous form of the disease and the bacteria reproduce in the bloodstream and release toxins resulting in septicemia. As this worsens, blood vessels are damaged and a rash appears that looks like pinpricks. The colour of the spots varies through pink, red to purple.

You might have a blotch appear anywhere on your body and sometimes out of sight.

Without treatment the rash will get worse and blotches become large purple patches that look like bad bruising. If you are tanned or have a darker skin you might not notice so if you present with the other symptoms above check for lighter areas of skin on the palms of your hands or inside your mouth.

The glass test in a very quick and dirty check to use but if you have a high fever, headache and stiff neck and you think you might have a rash I do suggest that you seek medical help quickly.

The glass test.

One of the indications that you have meningococcal septicemia is that the rash does not fade when you apply pressure to the skin with a clear drinking glass. If you can see spots clearly through the glass and have the other symptoms… get medical help immediately.

Here is an article that brings this message home – Risks to hundreds of thousands of students who unprotected against meningitis.

The grieving mother of an 18-year-old student who died within weeks of starting university says hundreds of thousands of students are unprotected against meningitis because of the ‘complete failure’ of a government vaccination programme.

Lauren Sandell was struck down by the illness shortly after beginning a course at Bournemouth University in October 2016. She returned home and died in front of her mother and younger brother.

Read the full article: Meningitis risk to college students.

Here is what the CDC is saying for students and their vaccination protocols should be followed in the UK too…

Infectious diseases tend to spread wherever large groups of people gather together. Recent data show that the risk for meningococcal disease in college students is slightly higher than the risk in other teens and young adults who are not attending college. Many states require colleges to provide information on risks of meningococcal disease to incoming students or students residing on campus. Some states require vaccination for certain students, unless the students provide a vaccination waiver.

CDC recommends meningococcal conjugate vaccines for first-year college students living in residence halls. If they received it before their 16th birthday, they need a booster dose for maximum protection before going to college. Colleges who require vaccination of incoming students should consider a vaccine received within 5 years before school enrollment as valid. However, the vaccine is safe and effective and therefore doctors can also give it to non-first-year college students.

College campuses have reported outbreaks of serogroup B meningococcal disease during the last several years. Meningococcal conjugate vaccines do not include protection against serogroup B meningococcal disease. CDC recommends the use of a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine for people identified to be at increased risk because of a serogroup B meningococcal disease outbreak, including outbreaks on college campuses.


It is very important to ensure that diet is not going to fall by the wayside as soon as your teenager is out of the house. This is particularly important when going off to live in shared student accommodation or bedsit and when there is also likely to be an increase in social activity.

Late nights, possibly a little more drinking and less focus on eating the right things, suppresses the immune system. Combined with the stress of learning the new routines, classes and being amongst strangers, it creates a perfect opportunity for pathogens.

As you have a few weeks before they head off perhaps you could give them a boost before they leave and a shopping list they need to buy and consume every week to stay healthy. You can but try!

Here is a shopping list that I compiled that contains most of the nutrients needed to support the immune system.

The alternative shopping list by nutrient

I also suggest that you share these articles I have featured with your teenager, not to scare them but to make sure that they are aware of the symptoms and do not dismiss as too many late nights, stress, being dehydrated etc.

If they need a booster vaccination then please get that done as soon as possible. Even if it does require some pressure applied to your GP.

©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 you have found useful, as always I am happy to answer any questions. Sally


Smorgasbord Health Column – The Immune System – Your role in protecting the body from a virus

I am continuing with the re-run of the Immune System series as it is a message that I believe is well worth repeating.

Most diseases today that are not genetically passed on to us are lifestyle induced. This means that as a rule we are masters of our own health outcomes and need to own the responsibility. I know that most of you that are reading this do just that and that I am only underlining the steps you have already taken. If you do know someone you feel does not share that healthy outlook on life, perhaps you might pass this on. I needed that nudge 25 years ago and it certainly set me on a different path.

I spent most of the first 40 years of my life in ignorance when it came to my body. I had studied biology at school and apart from a scary film on childbirth (meant to be the ultimate contraceptive), I knew more about the insides of a frog.

As a family we ate well… But it was not related to our health in any way. Certainly as I stuffed food in one end I gave little thought as to what happened to it on its journey to the other end. I was more concerned that my sugar craving was satisfied and I was then a happy bunny.

It took the short and very sharp shock of finding out that my ignorance had led me to a dark place physically with lifestyle related diseases associated with a woman in her 70s and 80s. Completely self-inflicted and I could not blame my genes, my family nor could I adopt a ‘poor me’ approach to blame.

It is not as though I was stupid. I was a senior manager in a large company with a stressful but very fulfilling job. But I had no control over my eating. I have always devoured books as well as food and now it was time to go into overdrive and learn how to take back control of my failing body.

As I studied medical textbooks and online research by leading nutritionists; a light went on. I had been dismissive for most of my life about my body and the functions it performed, mainly without my assistance 24 hours a day 7 days a week. My only contribution was to give it the nutritional and physical support to do its job; and I had been failing miserably.


We live in a world of quick fixes. For example, in supermarkets, pharmacies, in the press you find anti-oxidants advertised for your immune system –when do you think our 100,000 plus year old body decided that it was better to get its nutrients from a capsule or tablet?

And considering that it does take 10,000 to 12,000 years for a DNA mutation that might make a small change in the way the body processes nutrients for its needs, I think it is clear that we still need to ingest the good old fashioned food to give it a fighting chance.

I do advocate the occasional use of supplements, when needed, to additionally support the body. You must do your research however, and it is better to buy a reputable brand that gives you all the relevant information and has advice on hand if you have questions.  Many cheaper brands may be fine, but often the pills will just pass through you without your body receiving any benefits at all.

If you add up how much you are spending on keeping your immune system healthy with supplements, then I think you will find that you could be enjoying a fantastic diet, rich with more than enough fresh foods to do the job better.

The reason for somewhat long winded introduction, is that over the many years that I have worked with clients and written about food and nutrition, I have learned that if someone understands how their body works, and how truly amazing it is they will put everything into losing weight, improving their immune system function, working to improve conditions such as diabetes etc.

So, fasten your seat belt! Here we go with part three of the immune system -how it reacts to an infection like a cold, and some more foods to help support your defences in the massive task of keeping you alive.

If toxins and germs get past our first barriers such as the skin etc then the body needs to muster its troops very quickly to contain the situation. Apart from our blood stream we have a network throughout our bodies which is called the lymphatic system. It is a little like a railway network with stations along the route, which are called glands. You will often hear people say that the glands are up for example when they have an infection.

The most noticeable are usually the lymph nodes in your neck, under your armpits and in your groin. The lymph fluid, which is called plasma, travels along the network, reaches one of the stations and drops off any harmful bacteria in the node. The lymph system contains a number of cells that sound like something out of James Bond movies. B-cells, Killer T-cells – Helper T –Cells macrophages and lymphocytes and these and all other blood cells are produced in our bone marrow. (Which is why bone marrow transplants from healthy marrow can save the life of another person)

All these cells have specific roles to play (for example the macrophages swallow bacteria to kill it) and to give you an idea of the immune system at work this how the common cold virus is dealt with in the body.

A common cold is an illness caused by a virus infection located in the nose but which can also affect the sinuses, ears and the bronchial tubes. The symptoms include sneezing and sore throat for the first 24 to 36 hours followed by blocked nose, scratchy throat with possibly headaches, feverishness, chilliness and coughs.

It is not actually the virus that causes all the unpleasant symptoms of a cold. The virus attaches itself to a small proportion of the cells in the lining of the nose. It is in fact the body’s response to the invasion that causes all the symptoms. The immune system is activated and also some of the nervous system reflexes. A number of white cells from our defence system, including killer cells, are released into the blood stream such as histamine, interleukins and prostaglandins. When activated these cells cause a dilation and leakage of blood vessels and mucus gland secretion. They also activate sneezing and cough reflexes to expel infection from the nose and the lungs.

It is these reactions caused by our own killer cells that are treated by the over the counter medications, not the actual virus itself. By suppressing our bodies own reactions to the virus we can drive it further into the system causing more harmful infections, particularly if we have already got a weakened immune system.

After the killer cells have dealt with the initial infection, antibodies are released that help prevent re-infection by the same virus. This is why as we get older we should suffer from less cold infections.

Avoiding colds in the first place.

There are two main ways to protect yourself from catching a cold virus. One is to minimise the risk of infection through contact with people and objects that have been infected, and the other is to build your immune system to enable you to deal with viruses if they do attach themselves to you. It is almost impossible to avoid contact with people or with objects they have touched with their hands. Some of those people are going to have a cold or influenza and short of doing a ‘Howard Hughes’ and retreating into a sealed room you will have to make do with the main simple but effective precautions.

P.S – Shoppers.. Worth investing in some natural antiseptic wipes with peppermint, citronella, lemongrass,orange, patchouli oils etc and wiping down the handles of supermarket trollies. All these in laboratory tests were effective against 22 bacterial strains and fungi. Think about it!  And wash your hands before you touch any of the raw food you bring home with you.

Wash your hands frequently with ordinary soap and hot water to avoid passing the virus into your nose. For the elderly avoid shaking hands and kissing family and friends. If you have a baby ask kindly meaning admirers to not touch or kiss it.

Also you should exercise regularly in the fresh air and avoid over heated, unventilated living spaces. If your nasal passages dry out they are more likely to become infected and this applies to those of us who live in air-conditioned and centrally heated environments most of the year.

Some natural anti-virals.

Vitamin C and Zinc are great nutrients in the fight against the cold. Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid is water soluble and cannot be stored in the body and is the most powerful water-soluble anti-oxidant. Not only does it protect us from free-radical damage but it works to neutralise potentially harmful reactions in the water-based parts of our body such as in the bloodstream and in the fluid around each cell. In the immune system it works to increase the production of our white blood cells that make up our defences. It can also modulate the reaction to a cold for example by lowering the levels of histamine which is causing the runny nose.

The best source for Vitamin C is all fresh, raw fruit and vegetables – and the highest concentrations are in black currants, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cherries, grapefruits etc… A word of warning – if you buy already prepared and cut vegetables they will have lost varying percentages of their Vitamin C depending on how many days old they are. You may only be obtaining a third of the initial amount of the vitamin by day four or five. Frozen food on the other hand that is picked and frozen is a great option if you can only shop once a week.

If you are starting a cold; drink hot water with the juice of half a lemon and a teaspoon of honey. One of the herbs that I use during the winter months is Echinacea  and I will take from November through to January to help boost my immune system.  If you take as a cold begins, rather than supress the immune system it will support it. However, the old saying that a cold will be gone in ‘a week or seven days’ is usually accurate. The very young and the elderly are vulnerable to more serious respiratory complications and extra care should be taken.

pumpkin seedsZinc is often referred to as the healing mineral -there is evidence to suggest wounds heal faster and certainly it supports a healthy immune system. So foods to include are: – Seafood, pumpkinseeds, sesame seeds, wheatgerm, egg yolks and tofu. Sprinkle the seeds over your porridge in the morning – or make your own home-made muesli – enjoy an egg a day for breakfast.

Next time – How your immune system fights more serious disease, the use of anti-biotics and more tips on how to build your immune system and foods to include in your diet.

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

You can find all the other health column posts in this directory:

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:

And Amazon UK:

I would love to connect to you on social media.

Google + :

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have found of interest.. thanks Sally.