Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Food in the News – High fructose corn syrup- 90 (HFCS) Now in a product near you

Smorgasbord Health 2017

I do try to bring balance to my work as nutritional therapist but sometimes I feel that we take two steps forward and three steps back.

I love food and certainly I buy certain products that are not all natural from time to time but increasingly it has become difficult at times to identify what is toxic and what is not. Especially when allegedly trusted names in the food industry are using ingredients that have been shown to be harmful.

If you read my health posts you will know that I am not keen on anything that has been industrically produced, especially as for most of us, the shelves are filled with fresh and natural produce that we can cook from scratch.

However, big food manufacturers persist in adding harmful ingredients into our food chain for the sake of profits, and when they find one avenue blocked they invent another name for the ingredient to by-pass the so called guardians of our health such as the FDA.

As an adult I am careful about what food I put in my mouth, but what is criminal is the brazen lack lof concern for the children of our nations. From chocolate flavoured breakfast cereal to addictive snacks, food manufacturers blatently put profits over health.

It is not my intention to be a scaremonger about all foods, but a multi-billion pound food industry is playing fast and loose with our health, and with obesity rates rising dramatically across our western nations, it is time that we think more carefully about what we eat.

High fructose corn syrup is an additive which the body reacts to in the same way that it would several spoonfuls of sugar. It does not distinguish between sugar that is naturally in foods and artificial sweeteners and this results in more and more fat being stored. Particularly when it is touted as ‘diet’ food and ‘sugar free’. Frankly you would be better off putting a teaspoon of real sugar or a spoon of honey on your natural cereal, than eating this industrialised rubbish.

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Instead of removing this cheap, harmful ingredient, US manufacturers have just changed its name on packaging to conceal it within their products.

They succeeded in changing the name of a form of HFCS called HFCS-90 to fructose or fructose syrup.

The toxic ingredient now called fructose, or fructose syrup, contains even higher concentrations of harmful HFCS, making it more of a health risk than regular HFCS. Regular HFCS (HFCS-42 or HFCS-55) contains either 42 or 55 percent fructose, while HFCS-90 contains 90 percent.


And here is another post on the subject.

Packaging may “legally” say “no high fructose corn syrup” but HFCS will be hidden in the ingredients list under the name fructose.

Over the past 30 years high fructose corn syrup has replaced sugar as the sweetener in soft drinks. In Japan it represents approx 25% of the sweeteners and in the EU it is hardly used at all. Because of subsidies and tariffs it is approx half the price of sugar in the USA, though the real cost of producing it is probably similar to sugar.

It was once thought of as been a better alternative to sugar. Recent studies, however, have shown it to be far more detrimental to health than ordinary sugar. In fact HFCS has now become somewhat of a dirty word, and it is likely that it will be gradually phased out as consumer resistance becomes greater. (Similar to hydrogenated fats and trans fats)

It is a syrup and consequently no use as a table top sweetener. However in the food industry it has a multitude of uses and advantages over other sweeteners.
1. It is a very economic sweetener, about half the price of sugar.
2. It tastes just like sugar.
3. It browns when heated and can provide color in baked foods.
4. It feeds yeast and assists with baking and rising of bread.
5. It thickens and stabilizes processed food.
6. It prolongs shelf life.


For the consumer, none. For the producer of sodas, processed foods etc it is cheaper than sugar.


If you have any of these products in your storecupboard and your family eat every day rather than just occasionally, you are consuming a cheap and nasty sweetener that is not supposed to be there.. but instead it has been re-christened.

Any fruit juice that is not made from 100% concentrate. This includes some top brands such as Capri-sun and Tropicana. This includes fruity sodas.

Buy 100% concentrate and dilute with water if you would like to have a lighter mix. Add sparkling water to the concentrate to make a soda.

Breakfast cereals that are touted as healthy such as Special K and Kellogs Raisin Bran contain this sweetener.

Buy cereal from health food shops and check the labels.. If in doubt ask an assistant.

Other everyday foods that we are told are healthy – ‘fruit’ yogurt, jams, nutritional power bars, bread, cakes and biscuits.

Check the labels even though you need a magnifying glass for some of them and try to eat sparingly rather than daily. Or make from scratch.

Thanks for stopping by and please feel free to comment and to share. Sally


Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Top to Toe – The Skin – Eczema -Genetics or Lifestyle

Smorgasbord Health 2017

In the last post I covered a general overview of the role of our skin and also the nutrients it requires to be healthy.  I wanted to expand on that with a couple of specific posts from 2014 on eczema and other common skin conditions.

Today I will look at the itchy and very debilitating eczema since this condition can be complex to get rid of. There are many different causes but usually there is a link to a family associated tendency towards Asthma, Hay fever and allergies. As you will see as we move through the post this genetic link goes back more than just a couple of generations.

For example in our recent history in my family there is a link to asthma. My grandmother died of the disease at only 52 in 1945 before there were effective treatments. My mother suffered from hay fever and was allergic to penicillin, aspirin and tetanus. I have those same allergies and also have suffered from skin problems from time to time. One of my sisters also suffered badly from asthma as a child and teenager although grew out of it unless exposed to certain contaminants. However, it is interesting and often useful to go back further and I am talking about 20,000 years!

In an earlier post on the blog I introduced my great, great grandmother many times removed called Helena – a fictional name for the bones of a woman discovered in a cave in Southern Europe who had lived approximately 20,000 years ago.

I submitted my DNA in 2001 to Oxford Ancestors after reading the fascinating book The Seven Daughters of Eve by Professor Bryan Sykes a human geneticist. Latest research more or less concludes that Helena (from Haplogroup H mitochondrial sequence) came from a people who had travelled from West Asia around 25,000 years ago and then moved through Europe as the ice age receded. It is estimated that 46% of all Europeans share this DNA sequencing and is therefore the most common.  Since we submitted our DNA there have been several advances in technology and other connections discovered and the story has become even more fascinating.

I have mentioned this to illustrate that we are not just at risk from our toxic modern environment or our diet and lifestyle choices. There are elements associated with many of our illnesses that have a genetic component and later I will follow this link to skin problems.

The most common form of eczema is atopic dermatitis which results in a very dry, itchy red rash. Scratching it may cause some relief but leaves scars and thickening of the skin. It is more common in babies but they usually grow out of it by about 5 years old. Their immune systems are immature and may find it difficult to digest cow’s milk or eggs but of course may also be affected by a genetic link to asthma and allergies. This is also the case when skin problems continue into adulthood when exposed to an environmental allergen such as dust mites, pollen and animal dander.

Our bodies are programmed to handle toxins when we encounter them on an infrequent basis but when exposed daily or even a few times a week our liver and waste disposal system goes into overwhelm. Our skin is actually our largest waste organ not the liver. It is porous with a two way filtering system. Touch a contaminant and it will be absorbed instantly. Usually just to the first layer or two but if the toxin is strong enough then it will leach into your blood stream and create more difficulties for organs such as the liver which has the job of neutralizing and preparing contaminants for excretion.

However, when you regularly eat a food that you are genetically not designed to eat all the time, then you will begin to experience various symptoms, stomach upsets, vomiting and skin problems as the body uses its natural defence systems to get rid of it. Histamines are released and these will result in a streaming eyes and nose, hives or rashes. This is an intolerance but of course if it is a full blown allergy to the food, such as peanuts, it can cause a life threatening anaphylactic reaction.

Non-food related eczema
Before I look at the food related eczema I will just cover a likely genetic link to skin conditions. Research has found that some people have a lack of a particular protein in their skin called Filaggrin and this helps form and maintain the protective outer layer. If this outer layer is thinner than it should be, it will not provide adequate protection from external contaminants. For example detergents, dust mites, animal dander, and certain cloth types such as natural wools or synthetics that are rough to the touch. Dyes in clothing, labels that rub the skin, tight fitting garments, soaps and other cleansers, make-up, nickel in jewellery etc.

Unfortunately with that type of genetic skin formation there is little you can do but use avoidance tactics.

  • This means using fragrance free and pH neutral washing powders, soap, shower gels, cosmetics and anything that is going to come into contact with your skin.
  • Not wearing tight fitting undergarments and clothes.
  • Ensuring that you keep your bed clothes and furniture well aired and washed frequently on a hot wash to eliminate dander and mites.

There is a great deal of information on the web if you do have this form of touch related eczema and it is well worth making some changes to relieve the symptoms. Also, if you are suffering from this form of skin condition with its genetic link it is likely that any children that you have may also have the problem so making the changes will benefit the whole family.

  • Make sure that when handling any form of chemical cleaner or personal products such as hair dye that you wear non-latex gloves and always wash any exposed skin immediately with running water.
  • Severe cold can trigger an increase in reactions and although sunlight with its vitamin D can benefit certain skin conditions you will find that hot, humid weather that causes sweat glands to work overtime can increase the severity of eczema and hives.
  • If you smoke you are massively increasing the work load of your skin barrier as thousands of chemicals attack and infiltrate through to the bloodstream.
  • If you suffer from any skin condition it is likely to be worsened by stress of any kind. The body is on alert in fight or flight mode and particularly when the stress is chronic or long term the continual release of hormones and chemicals into your bloodstream can increase reactions to both food and external toxins.

Back to food.
If you are prone to food related eczema then you should be looking at the nightshade family (Solanaceae). There are actually over 2000 species of plant that are used as food and also in some of the medicines we ingest which does not make it easier to pinpoint as a culprit for reactions such as eczema. If you have a sensitivity to nightshade you will be unable to digest them completely and this leads to a long list of symptoms including stomach upsets, constant bloating, painful joints and even depression.

Nightshade foods and eggs that might be the cause of eczema.

white potatoes

Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers of any kind, aubergine or eggplant, and certain berries such as Goji or cape gooseberries are high up on the suspect list as are eggs. The egg white more so than the yolk and whilst they are an amazing form of protein and nutrients, some people have to avoid all together or only eat once or twice a week.

The reason that I mention that you might be able to tolerate limited exposure to these foods is that your liver usually can clear down toxins within five days. It becomes overwhelmed however when you are eating some of these suspect foods every day. My two key supects are green peppers (they are not fully ripe) and aubergines. Tomatoes and potatoes do not cause me problems. Everyone has a unique chemical make up and genetic background so you may find you can tolerate different nightshades to other people.

Before you make a connection with your skin problems and stop eating these excellent sources of nutrients for ever, it is a good idea to keep a food diary for a week – eat normally and make a note of any skin changes that occur in that time. Two weeks is even better.

If you suffer from eczema or hives ring the foods that I mentioned above with a red pen and see how many times a week you are eating them. The culprit foods or food is going to be the one which you eat daily or more than three or four times a week. They will be easy to spot. See how many of the foods fall into the nightshade family or eggs. This does not just include boiled, scrambled or fried etc. but also dishes containing eggs. If eating cakes, biscuits or other processed baked goods double check the ingredients.

A final note on the genetic link to food intolerances.

Our DNA does not mutate quickly. 20,000 years is a mere drop in the ocean in DNA terms and if our ancestors were not exposed to certain foods such as wheat, nightshade family or dairy then our bodies may not be equipped to digest them efficiently and may even react to them as toxins.

Our diets have changed radically in the last 300 years since the introduction of refined sugars which is tough enough on our bodies, but we have also now have access to foods from around the world that our long line of grandparents would never have consumed. Most are easy to digest and offer wonderful health benefits but occasionally you will find one that your body, in its wisdom, considers to be poison and will let you know very quickly.

With the addition of refined sugars and the additives in industrially prepared foods our body is under increasing stress as it tries to deal with foods with even the slightest toxicity. I have found with clients over the years that when they go almost sugar free and only cook from scratch many of their intolerances and reactions, such as skin conditions clear up.

We usually say that mother knows best but in fact our bodies have that one nailed!

Sally Cronin – Just Food for Health 1998 – 2017

Please feel free to share the post and would love your feedback.. thanks for dropping by Sally

Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Top to Toe – The Skeleton -The progresson of Osteoporosis over 50.

Smorgasbord Health 2017

As we get into our middle years and with a reduction in protective hormones a lifetime of inadequate nutrition and weight bearing exercise can lead to a weakened skeleton.  As our bones become less dense we are at risk of fractures and loss of joint flexibility.

This post was part of Women’s Health in 2016…but I hope the message is worth repeating..

Osteoporosis is more prevalent in women than men but affects both.  Last time I covered some of the nutrients needed to ensure dense bones and a strong skeletal structure throughout our lifetime.  I am repeating the nutritional information at the bottom of this post.

Statistics for Osteoporosis

Worldwide, osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually, resulting in an osteoporotic fracture every 3 seconds.

Osteoporosis is estimated to affect 200 million women worldwide – approximately one-tenth of women aged 60, one-fifth of women aged 70, two-fifths of women aged 80 and two-thirds of women aged 90.

Osteoporosis affects an estimated 75 million people in Europe, USA and Japan

For the year 2000, there were an estimated 9 million new osteoporotic fractures, of which 1.6 million were at the hip, 1.7 million were at the forearm and 1.4 million were clinical vertebral fractures. Europe and the Americas accounted for 51% of all these fractures, while most of the remainder occurred in the Western Pacific region and Southeast Asia.

Worldwide, 1 in 3 women over age 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures, as will 1 in 5 men aged over 50.

80%, 75%, 70% and 58% of forearm, humerus, hip and spine fractures, respectively, occur in women. Overall, 61% of osteoporotic fractures occur in women, with a female-to-male ratio of 1.6.

Nearly 75% of hip, spine and distal forearm fractures occur among patients 65 years old or over

A 10% loss of bone mass in the vertebrae can double the risk of vertebral fractures, and similarly, a 10% loss of bone mass in the hip can result in a 2.5 times greater risk of hip fracture

By 2050, the worldwide incidence of hip fracture in men is projected to increase by 310% and 240% in women.

The combined lifetime risk for hip, forearm and vertebral fractures coming to clinical attention is around 40%, equivalent to the risk for cardiovascular disease.

Osteoporosis takes a huge personal and economic toll. In Europe, the disability due to osteoporosis is greater than that caused by cancers (with the exception of lung cancer) and is comparable or greater than that lost to a variety of chronic non-communicable diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and high blood pressure related heart disease

  progression-of-osteoporosisThe progression of osteoporosis.

Unfortunately, as we approach middle age it is not just a few wrinkles and dodgy arteries we have to worry about.  Osteoporosis can develop in both women and men but women are at a higher risk over 50 and are four times more likely to suffer from the disease than men.

Osteoporosis is when the bones in the body thin and begin to develop small holes reducing the density. The bones also become brittle, leading to fractures. Some of these may go undetected as they can be very small. For example, if you suffer from consistent back pain, do not dismiss out of hand, as you could be experiencing very small hairline fractures in your spine. If the condition is not treated or diagnosed, these small compression fractures can cause a vertebra to collapse, a condition that is extremely painful and difficult to treat.

The progress of the disease is subtle. You reach maximum bone density in your 30’s and then your bone strength will slowly decrease naturally. Then add into the mix the reduction of both oestrogen hormones in women over 50 and the decrease in testosterone in men of a similar age, and you have a further loss of density.

Normal bone



Osteoporosis affected bone.

osteoporotic-bone-micrographThere are other risk factors to taken into account.

For both men and women, having a slight body frame and being very slim means that there is less bone to begin with.

Smoking from an early age for a lifetime will put you at higher risk.

Those suffering from certain eating disorders can show decreased bone density in their teens and 20’s due to vitamin and mineral deficiency. (I have seen a 16 year old girl’s x-ray showing the bone density of an 80 year old woman)!

There can be a family history of osteoporosis, if not mother then look to grandmothers.

If you have a history of repeated fractures then it may be that you have brittle bones and you will need to be additionally careful and under medical supervision as you move into middle age.

If you already suffer from rheumatoid arthritis you could be at a higher risk of osteoporosis.

Heavy alcohol consumption can lead to thinning of the bones.

If you have stopped exercising – especially weight bearing exercise that strengthens the bones such as walking regularly.

Last but not least is eating too restricted diet.  As we get older our appetites decrease naturally, we tend to reduce our weight bearing exercise, do not spend time outside in the sun obtaining Vitamin D, and we listen to nutritional advice which tells us to drop full fat dairy, cheese and butter from our diets!!

Diagnosis of Osteoporosis.

I believe that every woman over 55 and men over 65 should have a bone density test to discover where their bone health actually is following the reduction of the two hormones involved. The doctor will also take into account your medical history – particularly if you have had a number of fractures in the past. You should also have a urine and blood test to rule out any other reasons for bone loss and the blood test will show the levels of both oestrogen and testosterone.

A reminder of the nutrients needed to build and maintain healthy bone if you missed the first post.

As I have already mentioned in a previous blog there are certain nutrients that are essential for bone health and I gave brief notes about them. Today I am going to go into one of the most important vitamins for bone health and that is vitamin D. Also, a vitamin that gets little press but that also plays an important role in our bone health and that is Vitamin K.

There is increasing concern that vitamin D (that incidentally thinks it is a hormone) is becoming deficient, particularly in children as we see a rise in the cases of rickets.

Once you have read the notes on this vital nutrient, you can identify if perhaps you are missing it in your diet or lifestyle, and if your family might be at risk.

Vitamin D

If ever there was a reason to get out and lie or walk in the sun for 40 minutes in the mornings, getting your daily recommended dose of Vitamin D is it. In fact, 3 hours in sunlight, spread over a week, in moderate climates, without using any sunblock is sufficient to boost your levels of what is known as the sunshine vitamin. However, you may need less, or more, depending on latitude, time of day and air pollution.

It is not advisable to lie out in the heat of summer in Spain, for example, for 3 hours without protection but you will still receive beneficial amounts through sunblock of under factor-8. Most of what we require on a daily basis is produced in the skin by the action of sunlight and many of us who suffer from depression through the dark winter months are actually missing around 75% of our required daily dose of 1000 IU.

There are a number of diseases that result from a deficiency of Vitamin D and over the years, since it was identified in cod liver oil, there has been increasing research into its role in the body.

In Victorian times children with rickets or bow-legs were a common sight. You rarely see this in developed countries today, although in Southern Asia there is still a problem. In adults the condition is called osteomalacia (soft bones) and it is estimated that millions of people who suffer from unexplained bone and muscle pain actually have this condition. There has been an increase in recent years in the incidence of rickets in the western world and some of this is down to the decrease in outside activity for our children.

More of them are kept inside for safety reasons, many no longer walk to school, go outside at playtime, have football or other team sports encouraged. They sit in front of the television or computer instead of playing in the street and when they do go in the sun they are plastered in factor 30 and above.

They also have too much fizzy pop in their diets and the chemicals in these are not bone friendly. We have gone away from the free school milk and there is too much sugar in our diets which is acidic and leeches mineral from the bones.

How is Vitamin D involved in our bones?

Our bones are living tissue that grows and regenerates throughout our lifetime. It is not static and old bone is removed and replaced with new bone continuously, a process that requires that the essential elements of bone to be available from our diet and from chemical reactions in the body.

There are four main components in bone that are needed to ensure it is strong and able to repair itself on a daily basis.

  • Minerals – Calcium, Magnesium and Phosphorus.
  • Matrix – Collagen fibres (gristle)
  • Osteoclasts – Bone removing cells
  • Osteoblasts – Bone producing cells.

If you ever made papier-mâché sculptures at school you will have used a chicken-wire framework, first of all, to establish the shape that you wanted. Over this you would have laid your strips of wet paper and allowed them to harden. The bone making process is very similar.

A network of collagen fibres forms the base and they are then overlaid with minerals. The strength of the finished bone is dependent on the amount of mineralisation that takes place. Osteoclasts will remove old bone when needed and this results in a need to produce new collagen matrix to attract new minerals for the repair process.

Vitamin D is essential to ensure that sufficient calcium and phosphorus is attracted to the new matrix and that strong new bone is produced. It begins its work in the intestines where your food is processed and assists in the absorption of calcium. If you are deficient in Vitamin D the bone becomes calcium depleted (osteomalacia) increasing your risk of fractures.

Unfortunately, if you are deficient in this vitamin more bone is discarded than replaced leading to soft and malformed bones.

Rickets, for example, is the result of soft and insufficient bone material in the legs allowing them to bend and stunting their growth. In adults the disease is called osteomalacia and because the symptoms are usually related to unspecific muscle and bone pain it can remain undiagnosed for years. This leads to chronic pain and the truth is that therapeutic doses of vitamin D may be the only treatment necessary.

Food Sources and supplementation.

vit d 2

Apart from sunshine, vitamin D can be obtained from a small range of foods including egg yolk, fish oil and liver. A glass of milk contains only 100 IU of the vitamin. It can be tough from just food sources to reach 1000 IU per day of the vitamin so getting out into the daylight on a daily basis is important. Certainly, I have found that taking good quality fish oil capsules over the years has been of benefit to me. There are supplements that you can take and if this is recommended it is usually in the form of calcium and D3 together to aid absorption. There is a new D3 spray for children, but I do advise that you ask a qualified practitioner or your doctor before you use.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is of particular interest to women in relation to osteoporosis risk because one of the causes of heavy periods is a deficiency of this vitamin. And if this has been a regular occurrence during fertile years, this deficiency could lead to early thinning of the bones.

There are two forms of the vitamin that the body can utilise. The first is K1 (phylloquinone), which is from plant sources and the other is K2 (menaquinone) which is produced by bacteria in our own intestines. This is where many of us get into trouble because we are not eating sufficient raw and unprocessed foods for health and additionally many of us suffer from bacterial imbalances in the gut so do not produce sufficient from that source either.

The vitamin is fat-soluble and is stored in the liver. Studies indicate that approximately 50% of the stores come from our diet and the balance from bacteria in the intestines. We need healthy bile production for efficient absorption of Vitamin K and our lymphatic system circulates it throughout the body.

Apart from helping reduce excessive bleeding during menstruation it is also used therapeutically for the prevention of internal bleeding and haemorrhages, including emergency treatment for overdoses of blood thinners such as Warfarin.

Blood clotting is a critical function in the body that solidifies blood to prevent us from bleeding to death from external or internal injuries. Vitamin K is essential for the production of a protein called prothrombin and other factors involved in the blood-clotting function and is therefore necessary to prevent haemorrhages.

Also, interestingly, Vitamin K activates other enzymes that decrease the clotting ability so it assumes the role of regulator within the blood stream. An example of this might occur if a clot forms within a blood vessel that could block the flow, and needs to be dispersed.

As the vitamin works within the body it changes from function to function according to the various interactions with enzymes and at one stage it acts as an antioxidant preventing oxidative damage to cells. There may also be a role for the vitamin in cancer prevention as it is believed it may stimulate rogue cells to self-destruct.

Bone Health and Vitamin K

The vitamin has also been the subject of a great deal of research in recent years as scientists discovered that it played a significant role in liver function, energy production in the nervous system, and in preventing bone loss as we age by assisting the absorption of calcium.

Vitamin K is needed to activate osteocalcin, the protein that anchors calcium into the bone, building and repairing the structure. A deficiency in the vitamin can therefore lead to brittle bones and osteoporosis.

Food sources for Vitamin K

vitamin K

It is very easy to obtain sufficient Vitamin K through diet and you will find that good sources are: Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli and cabbage, asparagus, Avocado, Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, Green beans, Green Tea, Carrots, Eggs, Liver, Potatoes and Tomatoes.

Although the vitamin is fairly resilient it is better to eat plant sources either raw or lightly steamed to obtain the maximum benefits. Freezing reduces the amount of the vitamin so you need to eat a little extra of frozen vegetables than fresh.

Final note is on exercise. Whilst it is preferable that your exercise is taken outside in the fresh air and sunshine, it is obvious that during the winter months this is not always a pleasurable option. Dancing, yoga, aerobics, jogging, walking and light weight training are all good forms of inside activity. Find the combination that works for you. There is also a plus to even 30 minutes exercise per day. It will keep your weight down and also stimulate your appetite. This will enable you to continue to consume sufficient foods containing the essential nutrients you need for bone health.


Please feel free to comment or share.. Thanks for dropping by Sally


Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up… Music, Poetry, Book Promotions, Health and Humour

Welcome to the weekly round up with the posts from the week that you might have missed.

We had a glorious run of good weather for about 6 days that came to a halt on Thursday with some rain (good for ducks and the garden). We managed to get lots done in the jungle and we now have much more light in the back of the house which is fantastic.

This next week I will be around but I have two books to finish and so have loaded the posts up in advance and will be in later in the day to check on them and to also visit the blogs that I follow. There is a slight change to the line-up with the Blogger Daily on hold until 22nd May.

I would like to remind you that there are two new ways you can get involved with the blog and promote your own posts or your books at the same time.

Cook from scratch

Darlene Foster provided a wonderful cake recipe this week and you will find the post below. It will show you what the finished post will look like and Darlene received 100 views so far  and so it is also a great way to promote your work.

I am looking for a recipe that uses mainly fresh ingredients and you cook from scratch. It can be an old family recipe or one you have used for years and is a favourite. If you have a picture of it that is great but I will find something to illustrate the post.  If we have not met before I will need your links to your work and social media and a photo of your would be good. If I have promoted your before I will have your links.  All I need is the recipe to

Smorgasbord Poetry

If you would like to share your poetry then please send with your links etc if we have not already been in touch to Perhaps one from your archives on your blog or a new one you would like to share here first.

Thank you for all the wonderful support this week and I hope you will pop in next week to see what I have prepared for you.

William Price King

On this coming Wednesday we begin a brand new series with the star being Mr. Stevie Wonder. This week I reblogged William Price King’s last interview in the Creative Artist series along with the links to all his previous posts for Jazz and classical artists. I hope you will pop in and check those out if you are new to the blog.

Writer in Residence – Paul Andruss

This week Paul revealed the story behind the poet William Blake.. An extraordinary man born before his time. Another fascinating look at the legends of the past.

The Colour of Life

Two more chapters from my father-in-law’s memoir The Colour of Life. This week his musical career and a fisherman’s tale.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Promotions

I have a number of recommendations for you form proofreading to full book design and if you are just finishing writing your book you might like to take a look at some options to take through to publication.

Cafe and Bookstore Book Reading and Interview

This series features authors already in the Cafe and Bookstore and I am just about to send another phase of interviews out for June and July. If you are interested please let me know

Cafe and Bookstore Author update

New books, reviews or offers for authors in the bookstore. If you have news to share please send to me so that I can include in the Monday or Friday update.

Cafe and Bookstore New on the Shelves

If you are not in the bookstore then this is how you get your book or books on the shelves and please check out Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore in the menu to find out what I need.

Air Your Reviews

Book Marketing and Promotion

When you have written ‘The End’ and your story is over… what follows that in your book.. are you using it to promote your past work or what is coming next. With Ebooks you can link directly to your sales page. If readers have enjoyed this book they may be very willing to buy another.

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily

Smorgasbord Poetry

Smorgasbord Short Stories

Part one of my novella – The Sewing Circle from my collection Flights of Fancy. Parts two and three next week.


Let’s Walk a Marathon

Cook From Scratch

Top to Toe

Our skeleton is a complex, flexible scaffolding that keeps us upright and mobile. It needs a lot of nutritional support and care to enable it to last a lifetime. More on bone health next week.


Thank you for dropping in and if you are new to the blog you will find the details of FREE book and blog promotions in this link.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Health – Let’s Walk a Marathon.. Walking offers hope in fight against Alzheimer’s Disease

Part of my job as a nutritional counsellor is to keep up to date with the latest research in a number of areas including how exercise impacts the body. It has long established that regular exercise is healthy for the brain and this study supports that.

Could the initiation of a simple walking exercise program help older adults to reverse declines in key brain regions? A new study led by University of Maryland School of Public Health researchers adds more information about how physical activity impacts brain physiology and offers hope that it may be possible to reestablish some protective neuronal connections. Dr. J. Carson Smith, associate professor of kinesiology, and colleagues explored how a 12-week walking intervention with older adults, ages 60-88, affected functionality of a brain region known to show declines in people suffering from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer’s disease.

An extract from the article.

Dr. Smith’s research team recruited two groups — one with 16 healthy elders and another with 16 elders diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment to participate in an exercise intervention that included walking for 30 minutes, four times a week (at 50-60 % of heart rate reserve) for three months.

Before and after the exercise intervention, participants in both groups underwent fMRI brain scans to assess functional connectivity between multiple brain regions and the PCC/precuneus. After completing the intervention, both groups showed improved ability to remember a list of words; however only the MCI group showed increased connectivity to the PCC/precuneus hub, which was evident in 10 regions spanning the frontal, parietal, temporal and insular lobes, and the cerebellum.

“These findings suggest that the protective effects of exercise training on cognition may be realized by the brain re-establishing communication and connections among the brain’s so-called default mode network, which may possibly increase the capacity to compensate for the neural pathology associated with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Smith.

Source of the article:  University of Maryland. “Exercise study offers hope in fight against Alzheimer’s: Walking intervention improved neural connectivity in older adults with MCI.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 May 2017.

You will find all the other posts on the Marathon challenge in this directory covering preparation, breathing exercises and foods to support you:.

New Series Cook From Scratch – Continental Breakfast the Spanish Way.

A couple of years ago I ran a guest post series called Cook from Scratch with wonderful healthy recipes from around the world that not only included fresh ingredients but were flavour packed. I would love to invite any of you who have favourite recipes that you would like to share to get in touch at the email at the bottom of the post. And of course another chance to promote your work.

Most of us associate a  breakfast with cereals, breads, butter and jams, a fry up, boiled eggs or perhaps sliced meats and cheese. However, when living in Spain we adopted a different and delicious alternative which is toasted fresh baked bread with olive oil and a spread made from tomatoes.


It is something we would eat frequently when we were out for coffee instead of something sweet and because I tend to eat between 12.00 and 8.00pm each day as a form of intermittent fasting, it is my first meal of the day. (See yesterdays post on Intermittent Fasting).

Over the years I have developed various recipes for this simple dish and it is so easy to whip up and so delicious that I thought you might like to find out more about it.

Although the dish is really easy to make and serve, it is absolutely packed with nutrients that work on so many levels in your body and benefit virtually every major organ, your skeleton and your immune system.

Whilst it makes this post a little longer than a simple recipe I wanted to illustrate how nutritionally important this dish is for our health by giving you a brief overview of the ingredients too.

But first the recipe.

You can make several days’ worth and store in an airtight container in the fridge. As there are no artificial additives and refined sugars it is a great alternative to other spreads and you can enjoy any time of the day. We have eaten in the evening for a supper from time to time. When we have guests we might also add some lean chicken or a piece of roast beef to the top.

The Bread

I tend to use my own homemade Irish Soda bread which is yeast and sugar free. It can be a little crumbly but delicious with the tomatoes. (recipe coming next week).

Or you can buy a  wholegrain baguette from a bakery where it has been made on the premises (no additives)


Basic Tomato recipe.

You will need one tomato per serving. Using up tomatoes that have gone a little soft is great and just wash and take out the central stem. This recipe is based on four tomatoes cut into cubes and put into a blender. Add 1 dessert spoon of Extra Virgin Olive oil and a pinch of salt. Blend until a puree. The skin of the tomatoes will solidify the mix so scrape into a dish or a storage container to serve as soon as blended. If you would like to add some more depth to the spread you can add 1/2 teaspoon of Pimiento Dulce which is lovely and smokey.


Red pepper addition with onion and garlic.

To make the tomato spread especially rich and also even more nutritionally dense, chop up half a red pepper, half an onion and a clove of garlic and cook off with a little coconut oil or olive oil in a pan; or in a microwave without oil with a little water for 10 minutes. Add to your tomatoes and blitz it all up together.

Take a fairly thick slice of bread and toast both sides, or split a small sized wholegrain baquette and then drizzle a little olive oil over while hot. Use a spoon and add a good amount of the tomato spread making sure that it covers the surface of the toast.


Here is a brief look at the health benefits and the nutrients that are packed into this easy to make and healthy alternative to a sugar laden breakfast. Although it contains fats they are healthy fats and if you need to lose weight just use less on your toast as there is plenty of flavour in the spread already.

olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil which is from the first pressing of the olives is the best oil to use as it contains higher levels of nutrients, particularly Vitamin E and Essential Fatty Acids.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are necessary fats that humans cannot synthesise and must be obtained through diet.

Omega-3 (Linolenic Acid) is the principal Omega-3 fatty acid and is used in the formation of cell walls, improving circulation and oxygen. A deficiency can lead to decreased immune system function; elevated levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat.

Omega-6 (Linoleic Acid) is the primary Omega-6 fatty acid. Omega-6 can improve rheumatoid arthritis, PMS, skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis.

In a human trial it was found that polyphenol rich olive oil included in the diet improved the health of blood vessels which was not the case for another group of volunteers that included oil in their diet with the phenols removed. Obviously the healthier the blood vessels the more effective the entire circulatory system


Tomatoes are another very nutritious food that tends to be taken for granted. We expect to see in the summer with salads but raw or cooked the tomato is a powerhouse of health benefits.

Tomatoes contain Vitamins A, C, and K. Folate and Potassium and provide good quantities of B Vitamins Thiamin, Niacin, B6 as well as the minerals magnesium, phosphorus and copper. With the addition of fibre, regular inclusion of tomatoes in your diet helps protect you against high blood pressure, too much oxidised low density lipoprotein cholesterol (the unhealthy kind) and heart disease.

Combine this with beta-carotene which is found in brightly coloured foods such as carrots, eating tomatoes offers some protection against sun damage. The lycopene content also has been show to make the skin less sensitive to UV light damage helping keep your skin looking younger.

As we age we also lose bone density and the Vitamin K, calcium and lycopene are essential in the production of new bone.

Red Peppers

Red peppers are packed with vitamin C, in fact more than most citrus fruits, and they have a high anti-oxidant level including Vitamin A, adding to that already present in the tomatoes. They also add more B vitamins into the recipe including B6 which makes neurotransmitters that might help inhibit the development of breast cancer.

As well as the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc, red peppers have a good amount of manganese, needed for bone density and tendons and cartilage.

Onions and Garlic
 onionsOnions and garlic fit well into the category of ‘Superfood’ as they are both nutritional and can influence health in a very positive way.

The onion has a powerful sulphur-containing compound, which is responsible for the pungent odour and for the health benefits. Onions contain allyl propyl disulphide, chromium, Vitamin C and flavonoids, the most beneficial being Quercitin.

Allyl propyl disulphide lowers blood sugar levels by competing with insulin, which is also a disulphide for space in the liver where insulin is normally deactivated. This results in an increase in the amount of insulin available to move glucose into cells causing a lowering of blood sugar. Chromium is a mineral that also helps cells respond efficiently to insulin, which in turn decreases blood sugar levels. These two properties in the onion make it a vegetable worth including in our daily diet as we get older to help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Chromium has also been shown to improve glucose tolerance, lower insulin levels, and decrease total cholesterol levels whilst increasing levels of the healthy cholesterol (HDL).

Garlic contains many helpful compounds including thiosulfinates such as allicin, sulphates including alliin and dithins the most researched being ajoene.
(Just a quick note on the addition of garlic you might want to time this ingredient so that it does not clash with a business meeting or a romantic date….)

Research has identified that garlic lowers blood pressure, decreases the ability of platelets to clump together forming clots, reduces blood levels of lousy cholesterol (LDL) whilst increasing levels of healthy cholesterol (HDL). It also helps our blood vessels relax which prevents atherosclerosis, heart disease and the risks of heart attacks and strokes.


Garlic, like the onion is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. With the current concerns that we have about potential ‘Super bugs’ it is interesting that garlic appears to be an effective antibiotic, even against some of these resistant strains.

Cancer protection is essential for all of us. The compound ajoene might be effective in the treatment of skin cancer and eating two or more servings a week of garlic may help prevent colon cancer.

To find a list of all the major nutrients that the body needs to be healthy and the foods that provide them click on this link.

Photo Tomato y Pan – Flickr

I would love to have your recipes that are cook from scratch and made with healthy ingredients. I will add your links and that includes to your books and blog so an excellent way to showcase your work.. Contact me

Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Nutrients in the News – Can take Calcium supplements damage your heart?

Smorgasbord Health 2017

My stance on taking supplements has always been simple. With a healthy balanced diet the body should receive adequate amounts of nutrients. However, circumstances are not always ideal and there are times throughout our life when taking additional vitamins and minerals is advisable.

For example women can build up an accumulative iron deficiency over a lifetime of menstruation.  Taking supplemental B vitamins and liquid iron for a week a month may possibly help avoid this as well as improve symptoms of PMS.

During pregnancy the body is under stress from the demands of the growing fetus and taking a specific vitamin and mineral supplement including folic acid is important.

Following illness when the body’s immune system is compromised it may speed up the recovery process to take anti-oxidants such as Vitamin A,C and E with additional Vitamin D to rebuild the defences. But the body is more likely to absorb these more efficiently from foods that are rich in these vitamins and some sunshine.

It is also an issue as we get into our 60s and 70s and no longer enjoy quite the same level of hormones to protect us. But here is where we can run into problems. Especially if you are eating industrially produced foods that have been vitamin enriched.  How many of us reach automatically for the bread, cereal, milk, fruit juice and other products that announce they have added vitamins and minerals that are a percentage of your Recommended Dietary Allowance.

If  we have a healthy diet already there is a possibility that we are in fact ingesting nutrients in an inaccessible format, too much of one or more, and may assume that if we are getting from these products we do not need to include foods that are naturally rich in them.

This brings me to the subject of the most recent research into calcium supplements.

Here is an extract for an interesting study from John Hopkins that is backed up by several others that are ongoing.  The figure for Americans who take calcium supplements is quoted at 43% but that is mirrored across the western world and doctors are even prescribing to elderly patients for bone health in conjunction with Vitamin D. Great for the bones.. but what about the heart?

Calcium Supplements May Damage the Heart – Experts recommend caution before taking calcium supplements

After analyzing 10 years of medical tests on more than 2,700 people in a federally funded heart disease study, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine and elsewhere conclude that taking calcium in the form of supplements may raise the risk of plaque buildup in arteries and heart damage, although a diet high in calcium-rich foods appears be protective.

In a report on the research, published Oct. 10 in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the researchers caution that their work only documents an association between calcium supplements and atherosclerosis, and does not prove cause and effect.

But they say the results add to growing scientific concerns about the potential harms of supplements, and they urge a consultation with a knowledgeable physician before using calcium supplements. An estimated 43 percent of American adult men and women take a supplement that includes calcium, according the National Institutes of Health.

“When it comes to using vitamin and mineral supplements, particularly calcium supplements being taken for bone health, many Americans think that more is always better,” says Erin Michos, M.D., M.H.S., associate director of preventive cardiology and associate professor of medicine at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “But our study adds to the body of evidence that excess calcium in the form of supplements may harm the heart and vascular system.”

Read the study:

There is no doubt that it is critical that bone health in the elderly is an area of huge concern.. and it is made even more essential when taking into account reduced appetite and therefore consumption of calcium from food sources.

However, we should not be waiting until our 70s and 80s to be looking after our bone health and rather than automatically reach for a bottle of calcium tablets we should be including calcium rich foods in our diet.

If your calcium has been prescribed by a doctor then do consult him before you stop taking but if you are buying over the counter you might first review your daily diet and make sure that you are including the following foods instead.

CALCIUM: The most abundant and essential mineral in the body. There are approximately two to three pounds mainly found in the teeth and bones. Apart from its role in the formation of teeth and bones it is also required for blood clotting, transmission of signals in nerve cells and muscle contractions. There is some indication that higher dietary calcium intake protects against cardiovascular disease particularly in women.

If you are at risk of kidney stones consult your doctor before taking in additional calcium supplements. This also applies if you are suffering from prostate cancer where there may be a link between increased levels of dietary calcium in dairy products and this form of cancer. It is thought it is thought that excess calcium causes lower levels of Vitamin D, which helps protect against prostate cancer.

Calcium requires a specific balance with magnesium and Vitamin D for optimal absorption.

The best dietary sources are dairy (moderate intake) sardines, canned salmon (the bones), milk, yogurt, cheese and green leafy vegetables such as watercress, broccoli, kale and spinach; soy products such as tofu and nuts such as almonds.

To make sure that your dietary calcium is absorbed efficiently you also need to include foods that contain magnesium some of which are complex meaning they contain both calcium and magnesium such as dark green vegetables.

MAGNESIUM: It is essential mineral needed for bone, protein and fatty acid formation, forming new cells, activating the B vitamins, relaxing muscles, clotting blood and forming ATP the fuel the body runs on. The secretion and action of insulin also needs magnesium. It is needed to balance calcium in the body and too much can result in very low levels of calcium. The best food sources are whole grains, beans, seeds, wheat germ, dried apricots, dark green vegetables, soybeans and fish.

You also need adequate amounts of Vitaman D so that the balance of all three nutrients is effective.

VITAMIN D: CHOLECALCIFEROL; Essential for maintaining blood levels of calcium by increasing absorption from food and decreasing loss from urine. This maintains a balance preventing calcium from being removed from the stores in the bones. It also plays a role in maintaining a healthy immune system and blood cell formation. It may protect against prostate cancer. It is needed for adequate levels of insulin and may protect the body from Multiple Sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile diabetes. It is a fat-soluble vitamin and is mainly synthesised by the body during exposure to sunlight although it is also found in Cod liver oil, oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna and free-range eggs.

I hope you have found useful but if you do have any questions about any of my posts on health you can contact me on

Let’s Walk a Marathon – Intermittent Fasting and new series of Cook from Scratch

I hope that those of you who are now measuring your exericise in terms of marathons are doing well. I continue to walk every day and I am also helping my fat burning (she says hopefully) by eating a moderate amount of protein with each meal and also continuing to practice Intermittent Fasting which is something I began in 2013 after reading the Fast Diet book by Dr. Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer.

To be honest I am not an advocate for complete fasting over extended periods. Even under medical supervision I always feel that unless it is a method of eating that the body has developed over time, it can add more stress to the organs and our emotional response to food. Additionally those who embark on a fast unsupervised may have an underlying health problem that can cause serious issues. For very young people particularly teenagers this can be a very dangerous and complicated process that can result in not just physical damage but emotionally and mentally too. So first and foremost, do seek advice before contemplating any form of radical dieting.

Intermittent Fasting advocates claim that there are a number of health benefits outside of steady weight-loss. These include reversal of Type II diabetes.  Here is a summary.

  1. Blood levels of insulin drop which leads to more efficient fat burning
  2. Your body has downtime when it can initiate vital cellular repair.
  3. Blood levels of human growth hormone increase dramatically which also encourages fat burning.
  4. It is claimed that intermittent fasting increases your metabolic rate encouraging weight loss and reduction in fat in stubborn places such as the belly.
  5. Type II diabetes has responded well to intermittent fasting with a significant drop in fasting blood sugar levels and fasting insulin levels.
  6. Some research is indicating that intermittent fasting can benefit oxidative stress on cells and reduce inflammation.
  7. There are many studies into the benefits currently and new evidence is being published frequently and is worth keeping an eye open for.

For people who embark on Intermittent Fasting or IF – there are a number of programmes to choose from and because this is now the new dieting Buzz Word – or Words – I wanted to write about its application in this marathon challenge.

However, I am also keen to do so with not just the facts and figures gleaned from the various research I have undertaken in the last three years but with my own experience under my belt so to speak.

On the plane home from the UK in 2013 I read the Fast Diet which advocates the 5:2 approach where you eat sensibly but normally for five days a week. Then only 500 calories for a woman or 600 calories for a man for the other two days a week.

My willpower is pretty good when I make my mind up but certainly when I began this programme in the cold and wet months on our return to Madrid, eating a quarter of my calories two days in a row was not appealing, however I settled on Monday’s and Wednesdays for the next six weeks. It did help that there were plenty of fresh salad and vegetables available in Spain year round.

That was four years ago and in that time I have adapted the diet to suit my own circumstances. I only eat within an 8 hour window every day, seven days a week rather than the original five days on and two days off.  When combined with exercise I found that I was getting very tired on the off food days and then was hungrier on the on food days. I began to eat more.

As I mentioned earlier this year my weight began creeping on again last year and that was because my schedule of exercise and eating to a normal pattern was disrupted by a number of factors involved in our move back from Spain to Ireland. Once off track I found myself staying there and getting back into bad habits. The excuses that I thought I had packed away in a trunk in my brain’s attic started to make an appearance again.

For example.. jeez I am 63 years old… what can you expect!  Why deny myself some treats from time to time.. I am good the rest of the week!! 

I am sure you have your own set of go to reasons why you should not work at keeping your body healthy.

Anyway from my birthday in February this year when I turned 64 years old, I gave myself a damn good talking to. We invested in a new treadmill so that I could not use the wet weather as an excuse… I began some light weight training and I also went back to eating within an 8 hour window.

Thankfully that is now making a difference and I am happily back on the right track.

I still cook from scratch, have modified by carbohydrate intake so that I have wholegrains in smaller amounts at main meals and I don’t snack between meals. I exercise for the first time in the day around 10.30 and we have coffee and our Spanish Tostada at 11.30/12.00.(Recipe in the post tomorrow)

We eat our main meal around 2.00/2.30 which is always lean protein and lots of vegetables. For example.. Red cabbage and beetroot, green cabbage, cauliflower and carrots today with pork fillet.  David likes a raw salad and apart from celery, carrot, beetroot, lettuce, spring onions he also has half an avocado with his pork.

If we have been active in the garden then we might have a piece of wholegrain toast around 5pm with some tea or some fruit..I do my second session on the treadmill around 6.30pm .. a mile usually and then we have supper around 7.30pm. which is usually a sandwich for David and eggs on toast for me.  It varies of course.

That is not to say that there are not days when we might fit in an ice-cream or a scone and jam.. but within the 8 hours window.

If you are interested in reading the Fast Diet it is available in print, Kindle and audio:

The new series of cook from scratch begins tomorrow and I will be starting with our Spanish mid-morning breakfast.

If you have an queries about this challenge or about your nutritional needs then please  contact me on

Let’s Walk a Marathon – How to burn more fat… and exercise equivalents!

First an update as of Sunday afternoon – and I am half way through my second marathon.. Training was interrupted this week because of work in the garden and I needed to give my knee a couple of light days but I am on target to beat my personal best of 10 hours in 14 days for my first marathon by 30 minutes.

If you would like to share your exercise this week towards your marathon challenge please do so in the comments.. or you can email me

Before I give you some exercise equivalents for miles completed towards a marathon, I wanted to give you some ways to make your food work for you. The object of this challenge is to shift internal fat which also means getting rid of that belly fat and spare tyre.

All foods have a thermogenic effect as it takes calories to process them. Some even take more calories to process than its calorie value. Vegetables with a high fibre content for example such as celery or grapefruit.  A diet in these two items alone would be very restrictive.

The food that takes the least calorie effort to process is dietary fat… tasty thought it might be and the body thinks so too.

The body needs the good fats for health and you will find more of that in this post :

However, we need a balanced diet and the most effective foods to achieve efficient fat burning is lean protein and you should have a portion with every meal.

For example – an egg on toast for breakfast, a chicken breast with a large spoon of brown rice and mixed vegetables for lunch and a prawn salad or tofu salad for supper.

You can include any lean poultry, eggs, fish or game..(venison etc) – if you are going to cook do so with a minimum of oil and use olive oil, coconut oil or butter. You don’t need much especially if you are grilling or cooking in a microwave or oven/

If you are vegetarian you can include Tofu or Tempeh made from soybeans (organic), chickpeas, lentils, peas, spirulina, quinoa or products made from soy milk.

There is one food that I do find useful but you still need to drink at least four cups of it a day and that is Green Tea.

In its own right Green Tea has some pretty useful health benefits and certainly drinking it when in training with hydrate you and possibly help shift some of the fat.

A little reminder of the benefits.

Green tea is the least processed of the three and therefore retains nearly all its nutritional content. One particular antioxidant which is called a Catechin (epigallocatechin-3-gallate EGCG for short) is believed to be responsible for the health benefits linked to the tea at this stage. Green tea is derived after the tea leaves have been gently steamed until they are soft, but have not fermented or changed colour. They are then rolled – spread out and fired which is either dried with hot air or fried in a wok until they are crisp. When you add boiling water to the leaves you get a pale yellowy green colour liquid.

Black tea on the other hand is first spread out on racks and withered with hot air – this removes about a third of their moisture and makes them soft. Then they are rolled which breaks the cell walls and releases juices. They are then laid out again in a high humidity environment to encourage the juice to ferment. The leaves turn a dark copper colour and they are then fired turning the leaves black. This gives your tea its dark brown colour when you add boiling water to it.

Oolong tea is partially fermented which means it comes half way between the green and the black.

What are its main health benefits?

As with any food or supplement it is important not too over emphasis the health properties but in this case there is some compelling evidence to suggest that Green Tea has many benefits that could be effective in many different areas.

I mentioned EGCG, the flavonoid antioxidant, which is left in the green tea, and this is what researchers believe may be the secret to its health benefits. Because green tea is so widely drunk, mainly in Asian countries where dairy products are not used to flavour the tea – most of the early research was carried out in China and Japan. One of the diseases that has been studied is coronary artery disease – there are indications that the antioxidant in green tea inhibits the enzymes that produce free radicals in the lining of the arteries. It has been shown to lower the LDL, smaller particle cholesterol which becomes dangerous when oxidised and improving the ratio to HDL (larger particle and healthy cholesterol).

Drinking green tea may help with stroke prevention because it thins the blood preventing blood clots from forming and travelling around the body. Eating a high trans fat diet can produce compounds in the blood that encourage platelets to clump together forming the clot. Not only that, it seems it may protect the cells in the heart muscle following damage so anyone recovering from a heart attack could find it a good tea to drink.

Researchers found that stroke victims who drank green tea were less likely to suffer any further damage and their brain cells were less likely to die off following an episode.

All of the above is linked to Green Tea’s ability to thin the blood, therefore the flow is unrestricted and people are less likely to suffer from high blood pressure.

One of the largest areas of research is in Green Tea’s possible protection against cancer. Obviously this is down to this incredible anti-oxidant EGCG but studies have also shown that apart from triggering cell suicide in cancer cells, apparently it might also inhibit the development of new blood vessels. Cancer like any parasite has an enormous appetite and the only way this can be catered for is for the body to produce new blood vessels in the form of a tumour. By inhibiting this, the green tea is effectively starving the cancer and it therefore dies.

What is even more interesting is that green tea has been shown to inhibit the growth of genetic cancerous cells such as those in breast cancer. Again it is this antioxidant’s way of working that is so effective – it simply damages the rogue cells so much that it triggers a self-destruct mechanism that kills the cancer. The cancers that they have studied include Prostate, Ovarian, Breast and brain tumours in children. Colon, lung cancers have responded well and Green tea has been shown to improve the efficiency of cancer drugs while at the same time lessening their side effects.

Obviously it is very important to note that this is not a recognised medical treatment for cancer and should never be considered as an alternative without consultation with your doctor.

Other diseases that have come under the microscope are diabetes, kidney disease, osteoporosis, gum disease, liver damage, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Epilepsy and green tea together are being researched because of the possible lessening effect of seizures in patients who drink it.

It has been shown to be anti-inflammatory which means that diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis may benefit – either from severity of the symptoms or preventing all together. Bacterial infections from tooth decay to intestinal problems such as Candida – where green tea catechins have been shown to effect the metabolism of the fungus and reduce the overgrowth substantially.

Viruses do not seem to like green tea and apparently it stops the virus from replicating which might be interesting for some diseases such as HIV where inhibiting replication is critical to prevent the disease from developing.

For example Japan where there is virtually only green tea consumption, they have a very low incidence of Alzheimer’s, compared to western countries. However, Japanese living in the USA have 2.5 times the incidence of Alzheimer’s of those living in Japan – In Japan people sip green tea all day – not so in the western environment or for 2nd and 3rd generation Japanese living in the USA. This particular health benefit has a knock-on effect on ageing as the cells are protected throughout the body for much longer.

As I mentioned there is some reason to believe that drinking green tea (or taking the extract in capsule form) may help burn fat.. If you do drink four cups a day or take the capsules perhaps you might like to give your feedback in the comments section.

I know that some of you might walk from time to time but also attend  exercise classes during the week, or have some other form of activity that keeps you fit.  That is fine and I have a way so that you can complete a marathon in equivalent terms and join the rest of us.

For example here are some exercises and their calories per hour converted into miles.

These are based on someone who weighs 150lbs – you will use slightly more calories the heavier you are.  So if you cycle leisurely for an hour a day for ten days you will complete a marathon.. 26 miles.

This is an estimate based on the fact that the calorie value of a mile is 100 which is average for someone of a healthy weight. For those of you who cannot walk or run due to weight, injury or other physical reasons, you might like to note the value of swimming.

These are the mile values you can apply for an hour of activity.

  • Cycling leisurely 10mph = 2.6 miles
  • Cycling moderately 12-14mph = 4 miles
  • Stationary cycle in gym – moderate = 4.6 miles
  • Weight lifting – light weights = 2miles
  • Rowing machine – moderate = 4.6 miles
  • Aerobics – low impact = 3.3 miles
  • Aerobics – high impact = 4.6 miles
  • Hatha Yoga and stretching = 2.6 miles
  • Water aerobics = 2.6 miles
  • Ballroom dancing slow = 2 miles
  • Badminton = 3 miles
  • Bowling = 2 miles
  • Football – non-competitive = 4.5 miles
  • Golf carrying clubs = 3 miles
  • Golf with power cart = 2.3 miles
  • Tennis singles active = 5.3 miles
  • Walking the dog – leisurely = 2 miles
  • Swimming laps leisurely = 4 miles
  • Swimming breastroke active = 5 miles

Good luck with your marathon training what ever your chosen activity and look forward to hearing when you have completed your first and every future marathon.

If you have any questions about the challenge then please contact me on

All the posts so far are in this directory. Preparation, breathing exercises, food

Let’s Walk a Marathon – The internal fitness programme coming next week!

Right about now the women’s magazines will be starting with the headlines that drive up gym revenues and bikini sales.

‘Get a bikini body in six weeks’

‘ Get beach ready in just four weeks’

‘Drop two dress sizes in a month’

I look in the mirror, and if I put the right glasses on, it is clear that short of having extensive liposuction there is no way in the world that I will be displaying my body, in a bikini, on the beach in six weeks. And I have a sneaking suspicion that lying on the beach in four weeks in any form of swimming costume might result in a rescue effort to push me back into the ocean.

I can hear you now.

 “Oh Sally don’t say such dreadful things about your self.. Love the body you have and beauty is in the eye of the beholder”

That is lovely of you, but you have to understand that having been 24 stone (330lbs or 150kilos) 22 years ago, I am not very keen  to get to that weight again. This requires honesty and  being very overweight is not healthy, it is not attractive and it shortens your life.

Sorry to be so blunt, but not only was I morbidly obese, but I had all the lifestyle induced diseases to go with it.  I have worked hard to maintain both my weight and the key indicators of health such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels and fitness.

However, I realised a couple of months ago that I was slipping back into a sedentary lifestyle, weight was going on around more than just my middle, and I was getting out of breath climbing the stairs. So easy to slip into denial, and I realised that I was really missing the sunny days outside walking, swimming from May to October and daily workouts on my treadmill in the winter months.

The weather does have a lot to do with it, and whilst I love being back in Ireland, and in the past have walked our dog Sam in rain, hail and snow, I just could not work up the enthusiasm.  I was going to join the gym.. however I realised that like many before me, I would go for a month and then leave the balance of my membership in their bank account;  part  of their marketing mission!

So three weeks ago I made the decision and we bought a top of the range treadmill.  It is in the spare room downstairs… has a monitor on the wall connected to a playlist of videos and looks out over the garden. My playlist on my iPod is loaded with my favourite work out music and I also have a 4kilo kettle weight that I use after walking. (more about my progress during the challenge)

Get fit or die sooner than later.

The issue here is not what you look like on the outside and certainly you can carry a certain amount of extra weight and still be fit. However, the more important picture is the one we cannot see.

If we are carrying a lot of extra fat it is not just lying under our ever expanding skin… it is wrapped around our major organs, slowly sucking the life out of them by limiting their effectiveness.

You are not going to like these images.

Here is the link to the article that goes along with these images.

Confirmed: Belly Fat associated with visceral Fat is Far More Dangerous than Having a Total BMI

A study on belly fat presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress confirms that visceral fat – the type that gathers around your internal organs – is far more dangerous to your health than you might think.

The traditional index of obesity, BMI (body mass index), has been proven to be terribly flawed as having a normal overall BMI and high abdominal obesity was found to be more dangerous than having a total BMI in the obese range.

For example, cardiovascular deaths in the study were 2.75 times higher for those of normal weight who had big bellies compared to those with both a normal BMI and a normal waist-to-hip ratio. It also implies that monitoring one’s belly fat is more important than watching BMI.

Images and article courtesy of:

 Back to my view of my body.

I can live with being a bit chubby and certainly I have clothes in my wardrobe that expand over a number of sizes. But what I cannot live with is the build up of fat around my heart, liver, kidneys etc.

A note about that! A little fat around our kidney’s is there to act as a cushion to protect them in case of severe injury. But there is not supposed to be enough to strangle them.

Earlier in the year I serialised my weight loss programme that I have developed and introduced hundreds of clients too during my career as a nutritional therapist, and if you want and need to lose weight then I will give you the links to all the posts that you can read and adapt for your own requirements.

Smorgasbord Weight Reduction 2017

But whilst you are embarking on this safe and healthy weight loss programme you can be joining me in my own challenge which will help speed up the process, help lose the internal fat and get you fit.

The aim of the challenge:

Walk the equivalent of a 26 mile marathon in 6.5 hours over one week after 12 weeks of training.

Starting at midnight on Monday, I will be posting the preparations you need to make to walk safely and to set realistic targets.

For those of you who might just be starting out in getting fit then please join us and remain on the various training levels for longer until you are comfortable moving up to the next level. It is not about how long you take as you will still be getting the health benefits once you take that first step.

NB. If you are very overweight then it is important to begin to exercise slowly but surely to prevent injury or health problems. Do consult your doctor if you have concerns.

By the way – I have just completed my first marathon and I did it in 10 hours over 14 days. So I have a way to go too.

During this challenge please feel free to ask me any questions regarding the weight loss programme and I am very happy to help to design your eating programme to suit you shouuld you need that.

Ready, Steady Go  and see you on the start line Midnight UK time on Monday.