Smorgasbord Health Column – Guest D. G. Kaye – Dietary Restrictions, Consequences and the Eye-Rollers

My guest today writing for the health column is D.G. Kaye… Debby Gies. Debby has suffered from chronic intestinal disease for many years and has researched and devised a way to keep herself healthy without medication. It is all about the diet….

Dietary Restrictions, Consequences and the Eye-Rollers by D.G. Kaye

Thanks for inviting me here today Sally to share my own experience with dietary restrictions and the symptoms I experience when not paying heed to my body’s warnings.

There are so many of us who suffer with digestive issues. Some of us take preventative measures to avoid having to endure unpleasant symptoms, some don’t pay any mind, while others may have no idea, thinking that many symptoms they live with on a daily basis are just part of the aging process. But listening to our bodies is essential to better health and avoiding worse complications down the road.

I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease twenty years ago. I can certainly speak from experience about what straying from my gluten-free, and dairy-free diet entails. It took me a few years to find healthy and tasty substitutions for my diet while in the process of eliminating the foods I knew were aggravating my symptoms, despite my then doctor telling me that there was no special diet for Crohn’s, Colitis, and other forms of IBS.

Many people who are blessed enough not to have to suffer from these diseases, often don’t understand the connection with foods and intolerances that so many others deal with on a daily basis. Whether these are intolerances or allergies, eating culprit foods can exasperate symptoms from feeling discomfort to possible life- threatening situations if one ingests what doesn’t agree with their systems.

When I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s, it took several months and a few ambulance trips to the hospital and several experimental drugs and tests before they figured out what was wrong with me. A few decades ago there weren’t as many drugs available for my disease, and the ones I was on had left me with terrible side-effects – some worse than the initial ones I was taking the medication for. One of the prescriptions I was on began eating away at my muscles in a short time and had me taking a few tumbles down the staircase. That was when I knew I had to seek my own information on the disease and search for something better to help me live better with the disease.

It was the late 90’s, just before computers were becoming household necessities, so I had my brother’s secretary at the time do some computer research for me and I visited my local bookstore to read up on it. I learned about other people who had suffered the disease and what worked and didn’t work for them. I learned a lot from Dr. Jordan Rubin’s book – Patient Heal Thyself, how the disease worked and how the body attacks itself when it no longer recognizes enzymes and natural functions within and how the body sees them as foreign invaders wreaking havoc on the intestines. And I learned how wrong my doctor was – diet absolutely was a factor in controlling my disease. Even though there is still no cure for Crohn’s and Colitis, there are quite a few things I found helpful in bringing myself back to better health.

I went through a lot of trial and error with new supplements and buying and tossing new foods that were recommended as substitutes. I learned that dairy products from the cow were no longer my friend, but goat milk products were fine because the proteins in goats are most similar to those in human breast milk. I couldn’t tolerate the taste of goat milk but finally found a soy milk I loved which I found tasted most like real milk. And years later with the new hype of every coconut product I found coconut products were not only healthy but also made great substitutes for dairy, including delicious ice-cream.

Within six months of changing my dietary lifestyle and getting on Dr. Rubin’s program of supplementation, I got off all drugs and I remain drug-free twenty years later.

I wanted to share a little backstory here, but the point of this article I want to make is that many people aren’t aware that when they have digestive ailments, ignoring the symptoms and continuing to eat whatever they want despite the repercussions, only exacerbates and aggravates the intestines further.

I have a friend who suffers from colitis and any time we’ve gone out to eat together she’d always order a salad. Raw salads are on both of our ‘do not eat’ list, and they affect us both differently. For me, if I were to eat a raw salad, my insides have a problem digesting most raw vegetables, I’d be rolling on the floor, doubled up in pain feeling as though a burning inferno was going through my intestines as my stomach expands like a balloon. For my friend, she’d spend the better part of our lunch date and the rest of the day in the bathroom. The difference is that I choose not to suffer intently. When I razz her for her relentlessness to keep eating salads she makes it clear that she couldn’t care less about diet and has no intention of giving up her beloved salads.

Besides salads, I have discovered several foods that cause problems for me if ingested, symptoms ranging from severe heartburn to great stomach pain, and one commonality that always happens within moments of my eating the wrong things – my stomach blows up to the point where I look and feel 7 months pregnant. It’s like a freak show where magically I’m a size 8, and a few moments later, my pants feel like they’ve been taken over by the Incredible Hulk, busting out at the seams.

The intestines are a huge part of the digestive system. When we ingest allergens, the intestines will surely retaliate. Did you know that the human intestines can be as long as anywhere from 17 to 25 feet long? Imagine each body, large or small with that length of intestines coiled up tightly within us and suddenly expanding due to inflammation. It’s no wonder when I eat wrong I blow up like a baby whale! It’s just not worth it for me to stray, especially with all I’ve learned about my disease. I have zero interest in straying from my healthy lifestyle of eating in exchange for cheating on myself for a few meager bites and paying for it for days feeling like a beached whale and running to bathrooms. We all must decide how worth it is to suffer for our cheats and I’d just rather not ride that hamster wheel if I can avoid it.

In my earlier years of getting acquainted with my disease there wasn’t a wide variety of food substitutes for gluten-free or dairy-free options in stores or restaurants. Even with my own extended family it took a few years to drill in the fact that I couldn’t eat certain things. When I went to a party gathering and couldn’t find one thing I could eat without problem, I just made a conscious decision not to eat at all. Eventually, family gatherings became a lot more food friendly for me. Both mine and my husband’s family took awhile until they could understand, accept and stop questioning me about my diet and some to stop teasing me about what a fussy eater I was.

Note: Nobody appreciates being chided about their special diet or being told life without pharmaceuticals is hocus pocus. And it took quite a few years to earn respect in my circles for the fact that foods could actually attack us.

Going out to eat was more of a challenge during my earlier days living with Crohn’s, but I usually had an old standby I could find on most menus when choices were limited – chicken and rice. Fast food outlets offered no options in the beginning of my elimination journey, but so many now also include dairy and gluten-free options. I don’t have to visually see the food culprits that do me harm, my stomach is a great detective, never failing to alert me that there was something unagreeable in something I just ingested.

Many restaurants nowadays are quite conscious about not wanting to make their patrons sick and besides offering alternative food options on the menu, they will often send out a manager or the chef after informing your server of any dietary issues.

Although I have my lifestyle down pat and although my friends and family are aware of my issues, it sometimes doesn’t prevent some from commenting or displaying a few eye-rolls when it comes my turn to place my order when dining out with others. I make it a point to ask questions about dishes I’m interested in and how they are prepared. I’ve locked horns with a few at the occasional dinner table. Apparently, the questions I ask usually take up approximately 5 minutes of the server’s time, causing some impatience, making me feel as though I’m being petty and wasting precious moments before others can place their orders. And I can tell you, those incidents light a flame under me every time and usually ruin the mood for a get together as I feel insulted by their lack of compassion or understanding.

Being sick is not fun. And if people are lucky enough to be able to eat whatever they want without consequences they should count their blessings. I would also advise people to learn a little about dietary issues when inviting friends or family to your home. Digestive issues are a big concern for many. A little education on a guest’s dietary requirements is greatly appreciated by those of us who no longer have the luxury to eat anything our heart desires. Thankfully, after so many years passed, my family understand my illness, but there are still others who could use some training.

~ ~ ~

Do you suffer from food allergies or intolerances?

If so, I highly recommend doing some research on your ailments and begin a food elimination test to search for the culprits that don’t agree with your body. To do this, keep a food diary for a few weeks and keep track of symptoms and what you have eaten prior to stomach upsets. Then begin systematically eliminating the suspect foods one at a time for a week and keep check on how you are feeling without those foods.

Don’t be afraid to let people know that there are foods you cannot eat when being invited to their homes. Don’t wait until you arrive and have to tell them you can’t eat anything they’ve prepared. That will leave both yourself and your host feeling uncomfortable.
Any time I invite guests for dinner, I always asks if there’s anything in their diets they’re allergic or intolerant to then I prepare food accordingly.

Pay attention to warning signs from your body. If you’ve eaten something that doesn’t agree with you and you exhibit symptoms of pain and discomfort, make note of what you ate and become suspicious of that food if it happens again. Then stay away from that food and begin to experiment with substitutes to fill the vacancy for that food in your diet.

Lastly, don’t always take your doctor’s word for the gospel. Do your homework when prescribed new medications. Google medical journals and websites pertaining to the prescribed drug. Visit platforms on the web about the drug where people share their experiences on effects and side-effects. Get educated on your disease and read books on the topic. Inform your friends and family about what you can’t ingest in your diet so you won’t be left out at the dinner table when you’re invited to their homes.


My thanks to Debby for sharing her experience gained from all her years of researching this disease, and how she has implemented a dietary plan that works. I am sure she would be delighted to receive both your comments and questions.

About D.G. Kaye

Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.

When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.

“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

                 “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.

Books by D.G. Kaye

About Twenty Years: After “I Do”.

May/December memoirs.

In this personal accounting, D.G. Kaye shares the insights and wisdom she has accrued through twenty years of keeping her marriage strong and thriving despite the everyday changes and challenges of aging. Kaye reveals how a little creative planning, acceptance, and unconditional love can create a bond no obstacle will break. Kaye’s stories are informative, inspiring, and a testament to love eclipsing all when two people understand, respect, and honor their vows. She adds that a daily sprinkling of laughter is a staple in nourishing a healthy marriage.

Twenty years began with a promise. As Kaye recounts what transpired within that time, she shows that true love has no limits, even when one spouse ages ahead of the other.

One of the recent reviews for the book

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, Twenty Years: After “I Do”. It was a heartfelt journey through the author’s life with her devoted and loving husband who is much older than she. I laughed along with her and shed tears of sorrow when she did.

D.G. Kaye expressed herself in endearing terms when she spoke of her husband and their wonderful life together. She wrote with deep expressions of angst over serious health issues they both experienced and then joy over happy times with much shared laughter.

Marriage is a difficult union as anyone who has been married knows. This book takes the reader down this path to discover the true meaning of soul mates and undying love from one another. D.G. shares the beauty of each day that she and her husband, Gordon, have had together and continue to have even in adversity. She displays a remarkable wit in tough times and a brilliant resilience to go on no matter what she must face.

This book is a must read for all who have been married whether for a short time or a longer time. All couples face similar situations and must make tough decisions in their lives together. The author has shown how she has had to deal with serious health issues and come out stronger and more persistent to make the best of every day she and her husband have left together. For isn’t that part of our marriage vows – to love each other in sickness and health till death do us part?

Read the other reviews and buy the book:

and Amazon UK:

Other books by D.G. Kaye


Read all the reviews and buy the books:

and Amazon UK:

More reviews and follow Debby on Goodreads:

Connect to Debby Gies

Come and visit me at our Literary Diva’s Library group on Facebook

About me:
Twitter: (yes there’s a story)

Thank you for dropping in today and as always your comments and questions are very welcome.. Thanks Sally


Smorgasbord Health Column – Female Reproductive System – Breast Cancer and Research Update by Sally Cronin

Unfortunately cancer is a common condition and there will be over 14 million new cases this coming year and over 8 million deaths world wide. In many developing countries that do not have screening programmes to detect the disease early, the diagnosis of cancer is a death sentence. Most of us live in countries where cancer research, early detection and personalised treatments are now available, and if you look at the survival rates of ten years and over, the news is encouraging.

In the UK according to overall cancer statistics from Cancer Research UK there were 359,960 new cases in 2015, and 163,444 deaths in 2016. There is now a 50% survival rate over 10 years but, 38% of cancers are preventable.

If that is the case then it would result in 136,785 fewer cases per year and 62,000 less deaths a year.

With regard to Breast Cancer, there were 55,122 new cases in the UK in 2015, 11,563 deaths in 2016, with an estimated 23% of cases being preventable. What does look more promising is that the survival rate for women for 10 years of more is 78%.

The US statistics can be found on this website Susan G. Komen In 2018, it’s estimated among U.S. women there will be:

  • 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer (This includes new cases of primary breast cancer, but not recurrences of original breast cancers.)
  • 63,960 new cases of in situ breast cancer – find out more about this in the statistics
  • 40,920 breast cancer deaths

Although the survival rate in the UK and US is improving, the aim of course, is to ensure as near 100% survival rate for all those diagnosed with breast cancer. To that end, research has now become even more focused on identifying every factor involved in its development, from risk factors to individual tumour cell variations. There are some exciting new studies which you will find out about later in the post

The diagnosis of Breast Cancer strikes fear into the heart of us all. Not that the disease is exclusive and men too can develop this disease. But there are risk factors that are not down to genetic causes, but are a result of our lifestyle. The fact that it is estimated that 38% of cancers are preventable, should inspire us to look closely at our diet, exercise and lifestyle choices.

Risk Factors

Most of us in developed countries are living longer due to better diet and medical care. Recent research does support the fact that we all have rogue cells that might at some stage develop into cancer, particularly if we live into our eighties and nineties. If we have a poor diet full of sugars and have worked in a hazardous environment our immune systems may not function efficiently allowing for diseases such as cancer to move from harmless to dangerous.

There are a number of risk factors that have been identified, but apart from a clear genetic link to mutated genes such as BRCA1, BRCA2 and p53, there is only firm but not definitive links to other triggers. These include prolonged exposure to hormones such as oestrogen because of an early start to puberty before the age of 12 years old or a late menopause after 55 years old.

Lifestyle and diet are likely to play a role as a nutritionally poor diet is likely to result in poor immune system function allowing all pathogens to flourish.

There have been studies which indicate that exposure to hormone replacement therapy and birth control might raise the risk factor as will being exposed to chemicals within the work place.

Lifestyle choices such as smoking, recreational drugs and drinking excessive alcohol can be increased risk factors as they will undermine the body’s own defense system as well as introducing carcinogens into the body. In the case of smoking, each cigarette has over 4,000 chemical components, many of which are toxic.

You might also be at risk if you are severely overweight and take little exercise.

More details can be found at the following links.

Early Detection

If you notice any changes in your breasts that are not associated with your normal monthly cycle or pregnancy then contact your GP or health provider.

Here is an excellent article on self-examination that you should complete at least once every month:

In certain countries there are various health checks that are available to screen for specific cancers between certain ages and it is important that every woman take advantage of these.

The Good News.

If breast cancer is detected early and treated there is between an 88% and 93% survival rate. This drops to between 74% for stage two and 49% for stage three.

In the latest research it has been identified that there are at least 10 different variants of the disease (instead of the three already identified), and that tumours themselves may have variations in types of cancerous cells inside them and also when they spread to other parts of the body. This raises more challenges as it increases the need for very personalised treatment plans for patients.

Here is an extract from a very interesting article that I suggest you do read from Cancer Research UKIncreasing the resolution on breast cancer – The Metabric Study

Their study group, METABRIC (Molecular Taxonomy of Breast Cancer International Consortium), looked at the patterns of molecules inside tumours from nearly two thousand women, for whom information about the tumour characteristics had been meticulously recorded.

They compared this with the women’s survival, and other information, like their age at diagnosis.

While many other studies have highlighted differences between cancers, the METABRIC study looked at so many tumours that they could spot new patterns and ‘clusters’ in the data.

Their conclusion is that what we call ‘breast cancer’ is in fact at least ten different diseases, each with its own molecular fingerprint, and each with different weak spots.

This is simultaneously daunting and heartening – daunting because each of these diseases will likely need a different strategy to overcome it; and heartening because it opens up multiple new fronts in our efforts to beat breast cancer.

and from the same article –

Genetic insights

Modern genetic technology is increasing our understanding of cancer

All of the tests described above measure the levels of proteins inside tumours. Recently, research has focused on testing which genes are switched on or off inside the cancer cells.

This has led to tests, not yet widely used in the NHS, such as ‘PAM50’. This examines 50 separate genes inside a woman’s tumour, and uses the resulting ‘fingerprint’ to group cancers into four subtypes’:

Luminal A cancers, which are usually ER+ and/or PR+ – and make up about half of all cases. They tend to have low amounts of Her2. Women with these tumours tend to have the best outlook.

There is a great deal of focus on breast cancer research and hopefully in the near future, the ‘PAM 50’ test will become routine in the NHS. That will provide even more data for these studies and identify more treatment options to save more lives.

I hope that you will read more on Breast Cancer at the links I have shared. Being informed is the first step in prevention, as is understanding how your body works, how it feels and how it might be changing.

©Sally Cronin – Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

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

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:

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 – Carbon Monoxide – A Silent Killer by Sally Cronin

I thought it was worth repeating this post on Carbon Monoxide dangers in light of the recent reports from the luxury hotel in Egypt that it may have been the cause behind the deaths of two tourists. And resulted in the evactuation of 300 British tourists. The final cause of their deaths is likely to take some time to be revealed, but whilst you cannot control the enviroment when staying in public buildings, you can take precautions to protect yourself and your family from this silent killer.  Unexplained deaths in luxury hotel – Daily Mail

In 2009 I was living with my mother full time and whilst I would spend time with her during the day for the odd hour of two when she was awake, I would spend most of my time in the kitchen diner working on my laptop and within earshot if there was a problem.

We had settled into a routine and most days followed the same pattern. Suddenly I began to experience mild headaches on a regular basis. I put it down to stress and would go out for a walk along the seafront and the headache would subside. Then we hit a spell of very wet weather, and I was confined to the house unless I was out doing the shopping or doing my radio shows.

The headaches got worse and after about four weeks I was in constant pain despite taking painkillers. I went to the walk-in medical centre and they said it was probably a migraine and related to stress. They suggested that I take ibruprofen and try to relax!

I then went to a chiropractor, to find out if perhaps I had somehow pinched a nerve in my neck that was causing the problem. He did some work on my neck and shoulders but could not find any knots. There was no improvement after the session and I was becoming desperate.

I was also becoming very tired as sleeping was virtually impossible and eventually one night about, I felt my head was about to explode. The pain was excrutiating, and finally I telephoned my sister to come around and she called an ambulance. When the paramedics arrived they took my blood pressure and it was through the roof. and combined with head pain, they rushed me to hospital as they thought I was about to have a stroke.

When I arrived at A&E the doctor examined me and immediately put me on very strong painkillers and because my saturation levels were low he also gave me oxygen. As the meds and oxygen took effect my blood pressure dropped and after a few hours it was down to a bearable level. He too thought it might be migraines or cluster headaches or an underlying condition and told me to go to a doctor to be referred for further investigation.

I went home at about 5am and slept through to lunchtime. I sat in the lounge with my mother and had an early night still with the niggling pain hovering in my head.

The next day I was sitting in the dining area of the kitchen when the pain began again and Iooked over at my mother’s gas cooker and suddenly the penny dropped.

As it was an emergency, the gas board sent a technician immediately and he found that there were low to moderate concentrations of carbon monoxide in the kitchen and dining-room. A place that I used for several hours a day, but my mother rarely entered anymore. I used to close the door to the hall to shut out the noise of her television so effectively sealing me in with the gas.

Additionally, the previous owners of the house had built a sunroom across the back of the kitchen which meant there were no windows to the outside and therefore little ventilation. With the onset of winter the windows of the sunroom were not opened either allowing a build up of carbon monoxide.

My mother’s gas oven was also an older model she had brought from her flat across the road, and although it had been serviced since her arrival at the house, it had not been checked for a number of years.It was the first thing to go. The gas board capped off the gas line and I bought an electric cooker.

It took several weeks before I felt normal, and after I investigated the often fatal effects of carbon monoxide poisoning, I was very thankful that I had identified the cause when I did and did not suffer long term health problems.

More about Carbon Monoxide.

  • The build up of carbon monoxide in the home is particularly dangerous for those who tend to be at home all day or housebound. This is particularly so for the elderly who might also not been able to afford proper maintenance for their aging appliances.
  • Carbon monoxide can accumulate to dangerous levels as a result of faulty or damaged heating appliances using gas, oil, kerosene or wood that have not been serviced regularly.
  • Poor ventilation in rooms where you have gas appliances for cooking or heating. Especially after home renovations that block internal windows. This is often the case with conservatories that are added to the back of houses.
  • Blocked flues and chimneys of heating appliances.
  • Garage or shed doors being shut when cars or petrol driven lawnmowers are operating without ventilation.
  • Sitting in idling cars in a garage even with the doors open.
  • Using cooking appliances with the doors open to the rest of the house as a form of heating. (As in the case of some elderly people without central heating in their homes)
  • Using cooking appliances such as BBQs inside the house or garage.
  • Because carbon monoxide is invisible, you cannot smell or taste it, over time it can build to dangerous levels.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

  • At the outset you may feel that you are coming down with a cold or the flu. This will usually include a headache that persists.
  • You might also experience chest pains, dizziness, stomach upset, vomiting and general fatigue.
  • Another key indicator is that other people that you live and work with are experiencing similar symptoms.
  • The effects are dependent on a number of factors. The age of the person, activity levels outside the home, daily rate of exposure and poor health.
  • More severe effects may result in confusion, seizures and unconsciousness

What causes carbon monoxide poisoning?

When you breathe in carbon monoxide it replaces the oxygen in your blood. This means that your cells throughout your body die and your organs fail.

Urgent steps to take.

  • If you have any appliances that burn fuel for heating or cooking then make sure they are switched off until you have had them checked by a qualified inspector.
  • Open all your windows and air the house.. Pockets of gas can find their way throughout the house if doors have been left open.
  • If your symptoms are severe get outside into the fresh air. Get checked out as quickly as possible either at your doctor or the emergency room.
  • Installing a carbon monoxide alarm could save your life.
  • Regular inspection and maintenance of appliances, vents, flues and chimneys are the best ways to protect you and your family from the hidden danger of carbon monoxide. For added protection install an audible carbon monoxide alarm.
  • Carbon Monoxide alarms are available from many hardware and DIY stores.

Here is an article with a video that gives instructions on where to place detectors and also points to remember such as the fact that detectors have a relatively short lifespan and need to be replaced regularly.

If your fuel burning appliances have not been checked recently or you do not have a carbon monoxide detector then please do so now.. I would hate for you to go through the same experience as I did. Thanks Sally

©Sally Cronin 2016

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

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:


Smorgasbord Health Column – Nutrients the body needs – Amino Acids by Sally Cronin

There are two types of amino acid, essential and non-essential. There are approximately 80 amino acids found in nature but only 20 are necessary for healthy human growth and function. We are made up of protein and we require adequate amounts of amino acids if we are to maintain and repair the very substance that we are made from.

We need to obtain essential amino acids from our diet and our body will produce the nonessential variety on its own if our diet is lacking in the essential type.

Essential Amino Acids

These are Histidine (essential in infants can be made by the body in adults if needed), Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Cysteine (essential in infants, nonessential in adults), Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan and Valine.

Non-Essential Amino Acids

Alanine, Aspartic acid, Arginine, Carnitine, Glycine, Glutamine, Hydroxyproline, Norleucine, Proline, Serine and Tyrosine.

The Role of Amino Acids in the body

Amino acids help make neurotransmitters, the chemicals that convey messages in the brain and also hormones like insulin. They are needed for the production of enzymes that activate certain functions within the body and certain types of body fluid and they are essential for the repair and maintenance of organs, glands, muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, hair and nails.

An example of one of the essential amino acids – Tryptophan.

I have often written about tryptophan when featuring healing foods, and it is an excellent example of the role of amino acids within the body.

When we eat foods that contain tryptophan the body will use that to form the very important vitamin B3 or Niacin. Niacin is necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins to obtain the fuel we need (ATP) as well as helping to regulate cholesterol. It is necessary for the formation of red blood cells and hormones. Read more about B3 here.

When niacin is formed it continues to work with the tryptophan along with B6 to stimulate the production of the serotonin and melatonin transmitters within the brain that not only help regulate our mood but also our sleep patterns. Without tryptophan we would be more likely to suffer from insomnia and depression.

Some studies also show that tryptophan is also a natural painkiller and interestingly it may eventually be used to prevent tooth decay.

Tooth decay is usually the result of the action of our own saliva on carbohydrates that we eat. Those people whose saliva composition resulted in a rapid rate of starch decomposition in the mouth, were more likely to suffer from excessive cavities in their teeth. Those people whose saliva caused a slow decomposition of carbohydrates were found to suffer very few dental problems. Taking in dietary tryptophan has been shown to slow down this process and may well be included in toothpaste and chewing gum in the future.

Other studies indicate that autistic children suffer from a deficiency of tryptophan. Also that it might be useful as an appetite suppressant. In combination with with another amino acid, Tyrosine, it could help with drug addiction and is recommended to overcome jet lag.

Differences between babies and adults.

Due to the enormous growth rate of babies there is a difference in the essential or nonessential properties of amino acids.

An example of this is cysteine, which is considered to be essential in babies, which is why breast milk is very high in the amino acid and non-essential in adults. Due to its high antioxidant effects it may in part be responsible for the important boosting of the immune system in newborn babies that is supplied by breast milk.

When we are adults, we still require cysteine, but instead of obtaining it from our diet it is synthesised from another essential amino acid methionine.

Cysteine plays a role in our antioxidant processes protecting us from free radical damage and therefore chronic disease and ageing. It is currently being studied in relation to a number of medical conditions including peptic ulcers, liver health, the treatment of paracetamol overdose and metal toxicity.

It may also benefit respiratory disease due to its antioxidant properties but also its ability to help break up mucous. In the form of N-acetyl cysteine it may protect the body from cancer and there is a possibility that during treatment for cancer with chemotherapy or radiotherapy that it will protect the healthy cells but not the cancerous cells from any damage.

When I covered heart disease I looked at the role of homocysteine levels in the blood and how excess levels can lead to heart disease. Taking N-acetyl cysteine in supplement form may help reduce these levels as well as the LDL (lousy cholesterol levels) in the blood.

Brief description of some of the other amino acids and their role in the body.

There is not room to cover the roles within the body of all the amino acids but here is a brief look at the diverse roles of some of the individual amino acids within the body.

Alanine – a very simple amino acid involved in the energy producing breakdown of glucose and is used to build proteins, vital for the function of the central nervous system and helps form neurotransmitters. It is very important to promote proper blood glucose levels derived from dietary protein.

Arginine – plays an important role in healthy cell division, wound healing, removing ammonia from the body, boosting the immune system and in the production and release of hormones.

Carnitine – is produced in the liver, brain and kidneys from the essential amino acids methionine and lysine. It is the nutrient responsible for the transport of fatty acids into the energy producing centres of the cells, known as the mitochondria. It also helps promote healthy heart muscle.

Creatine – is synthesised in the liver, kidneys and pancreas from Arginine, Methionine and Glycine and functions to increase the availability of the fuel we need ATP (adenosine triphosphate). It is stored in muscle cells and is used to generate cellular energy for muscle contractions when effort is required. This is why many athletes will supplement with Creatine to increase stamina and performance.

Food sources for Amino Acids.

The best food sources of amino acids are dairy products, eggs, fish, meat, soybeans, quinoa, nuts and seeds.

©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 other post on thenutrients the body needs in the directory:

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


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 – Foods to boost your blood health #Anaemia #Fatigue

Following on from the previous posts on our blood and anaemia, here are some blood boosting foods and suggestions for menus to put them together for maximum effect.

As we get older, our bodies find it more difficult to metabolise the food that we eat in an efficient manner. Illness and stress can also cause deficiencies to occur. As I have covered in the last few blogs, one of the most common health problems we are likely to encounter is anaemia in varying degrees from mild to dangerous levels. The aim is to consume a diet rich in the specific nutrients needed to maintain healthy blood but it is difficult to visualise when someone simply tells you to eat B6, B12, Folate etc. So I have put together those nutrients with the foods that contain them so that you can just pop to the supermarket and fill your trolley.

I would suggest that anyone who like me is 60+ should include these foods on a regular basis in your daily diet.

This specific eating plan includes the foods that will provide you with the necessary nutrients for healthy blood but do remember that if you are exhibiting any symptoms that indicate you are anaemic you should go to your doctor and seek medical advice. You will find those in one of the previous posts which are linked to below.

As always I do stress that it is better to ‘cook from scratch’ but there are certain staples that you can include in your pantry. Many people prefer an easy start to the day with a bowl of cereal and perhaps a piece of toast. Cereals today are very different from our childhood when all you got was the grain. Today I am afraid you are likely to get a lot more sugar which somewhat negates the benefit of the wholegrain. If I have cereal I have porridge oats but for the sake of variety do check the labels and buy wholegrain varieties with as little sugar or even worse, artificial sweeteners as possible.

Picture3In recent months there has been a lot of speculation about whole grains in our diet in relation to what is referred to as our ‘gut brain’. I covered the topic in an earlier series on digestion but my opinion remains the same. Provided you are not celiac or have chronic intestinal problems, whole grains are essential in our diets to provide B vitamins, other nutrients and fibre. We certainly need less as we get older because our activity levels drop but carbohydrates from grains are needed to provide the fuel that we require for our energy levels. Drop those too low and your fatigue will be intensified. You can still eat carbohydrates from potatoes and other root vegetables and add in one or two portions of grains per day depending on your exercise levels.

Here are some suggestions for the main meals of the day plus snacks.

Breakfast choose one selection per day and rotate so that you are getting variety and different nutrients.

  • Most cereals have B12, B6, Folic Acid and Iron – check the labels to establish that. Some will be added as fortification but if it is a wheat cereal it will have natural nutrients.
  • Have cereal or porridge and a glass of orange juice to help the digestion of iron with Vitamin C. Have some soaked prunes on your porridge or chopped dry prunes or apricots on your cereal, as these are high in iron.
  • If you are not trying to lose weight then have a piece of wholemeal toast with butter and marmalade as well. Better to have small amount of good quality chunky marmalade than a watery processed diet version.
  • Sprinkle a dessertspoon of wheatgerm on the top of your cereal or your porridge as this has B6, iron and manganese together (B12, B6, Folic Acid, Iron, Manganese and Vitamin C)
  • Half a grapefruit with two pieces of wholemeal toast and marmalade. (Vitamin C –Manganese)
  • For a cooked breakfast you could have poached egg on two pieces of wholemeal toast with an orange juice. (Manganese, Vitamin C, B12 and B6)

(A tip here is to avoid wheat bran, as this can actually prevent absorption of iron. As unfortunately can too much tea, so do try and restrict your intake to no more than three cups a day of good quality leaf tea rather than the processed bags. Coffee has some health benefits too and a cup or two of fresh ground coffee with some hot milk is fine. If you have high blood pressure however you might have ground decaffeinated instead.


  • Have a mid-morning snack as part of your healthy eating plan. You could have a handful of the mixed seeds and nuts (B6, Manganese)
  • 2 mandarin oranges (Vitamin C again, to help the iron you have already ingested to be absorbed)
  • A banana (B6)
  • Slice of wholemeal toast with mashed banana (Manganese and B6)


Assuming this is your main meal of the day – choose from the following meats:

  • · Lamb
  • · Chicken
  • · Turkey
  • · Salmon
  • · Beef
  • · Lamb’s liver
    (try to have liver at least once a week) (folate, B6, B12 and iron)
  • · Potatoes
  • · Wholemeal rice or pasta (manganese – folate)

Lots of vegetables including every day a serving of a dark green leafy vegetable like spinach (Folate-Iron) Cauliflower (raw) (Vit K), Broccoli (calcium)

Use olive oil or good quality sunflower oil for cooking or as a dressing (Essential fatty acids and Vitamin E)


  • Nuts and seeds. For men pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of Zinc and helpful to keep the prostate healthy.
  • Slice of wholemeal toast with butter and a thin slice of mature cheddar.
  • Home-made wholemeal scone with butter and sugar free jam.
  • Fruit such as oranges.
  • Yoghurt live with no sugar but chop up some fruit such as berries into it.

If you are not going to hit the dance floor every evening, having a heavy meal at night can cause digestive problems and provides energy that you are not going to use up.. This will result in storage of the excess around your middle. If it is your main meal of the day keep your grain and other carbohydrates to your lunch and eat protein with lots of freshly prepared salads and vegetables. A smaller amount of carbohydrate up to 2 hours before going to sleep is fine. As you will see from the lists one piece of toast, one piece of Pitta bread, two tablespoons of whole grain pasta.


beansAssuming this is a lighter meal.

  • · Scrambled Eggs on toast (B6, B12, Folate, Manganese)
  • · Omelette and Green leafy mixed salad (B6, B12, Folate)
  • · Wholemeal Pitta bread with chicken or tuna and salad filling (B6, B12, Iron)
  • · Eggs Florentine – baked egg on spinach with some hollandaise sauce
  • · Homemade wholemeal pasta in tomato sauce on toast.
  • · Small tin of sugar free baked beans on wholemeal toast.
  • · Seafood cocktail on with clams – cockles – prawns. Serve on half an avocado Slice of bread and butter.



  • One of the snacks from above that you have not already had.
  • Cup of Cocoa (iron)
  • Cup of Ginger Tea and a wholemeal digestive biscuit (Manganese)
  • A banana (B6)

As you can see from the above eating plan, there are many foods that will help keep your blood healthy. Get creative in your own kitchen, using fresh unprocessed ingredients and you can’t go wrong.

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

My nutritional background

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

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

Thank you for reading the post and you will find all the other articles in this directory:

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

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

The oxygen carriers.

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

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

Other transportation duties

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Iron Deficiency Anaemia

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

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

What is pernicious anaemia?

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

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

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

Nutrition and blood diseases.

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

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

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

What symptoms would someone experience if they were anaemic?

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

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

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

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

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

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

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

My nutritional background

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

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

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

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

health column final

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

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

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

Now to this week’s mineral….Zinc

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

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

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

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

Main areas of health that require Zinc

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

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

How do you know you might be deficient in zinc?

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

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

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

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

Are there any dangers to including zinc in your diet?

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

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

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

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

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

My nutritional background

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer in Residence rewind – Ionia by Paul Andruss.

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


The Food and Cookery Column with Carol Taylor.

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

Getting to Know You.

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

Personal Stuff

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

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

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

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

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

Author Updates #reviews

Blogger Daily

Health Column

The components of our blood and Anaemia.


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

Nutrients the body needs – Phosphorus and bone health

Humour and Afternoon Videos

More weird facts and trivia

The last part of the weird facts and trivia

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