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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Avoiding colds in the first place.

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

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

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

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

Some natural anti-virals.

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

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

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

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

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

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

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

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook from:

And Amazon UK:

I would love to connect to you on social media.

Google + :

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



Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Summer Book #Sale, One of my books FREE,A Writer’s Life,Travel, Music, Cookery, and Guests

Welcome to the weekly round up of posts you might have missed.

There has been some rain this week, nothing to get too excited about, especially as it missed the St. Swithin’s Day curse. For those not familiar, if it rains on St. Swithin’s Day it will rain for 40 days following. That is usually quite difficult to measure here in Ireland as it is extremely rare to go forty days without any rain.

This latest heatwave and dry spell is the longest I think in recorded history for many countries in Northern Europe and certainly whilst most of us take advantage the farmers are being hard hit.

Anyway it has put a halt to our plans to lay a new lawn as there is not point in putting down turf with a hose-pipe ban and no serious rain for another week or so. At least the sparrows are enjoying their dust baths on the wide expanse of dry soil in front of the house. It does mean that David has been able to get the ladders out and start the task of painting the back of the house and all the garden walls. The end is in sight of our two year renovation project and it is only when we look at the before photos that we fully appreciate the difference.. I will do a post when all is complete as a celebration.

Just in case you missed. What’s in a Name Volume 1 is still FREE until officially midnight tonight UK time but if you email me in the next couple of days I am more than happy to send you a digital copy. I am not part of Kindle Publishing so it is the easiest way for me to offer my books free.

If I already have your email address just put your preference in the comments section.

About What’s in a Name? Volume One.

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

There are classical names such as Adam, David and Sarah that will grace millions of babies in the future. There are also names that parents have invented or borrowed from places or events in their lives which may last just one lifetime or may become the classic names of tomorrow.

Whatever the name there is always a story behind it. In What’s in a Name? – Volume One, twenty men and women face danger, love, loss, romance, fear, revenge and rebirth as they move through their lives.

Anne changes her name because of associations with her childhood, Brian carries the mark of ancient man, Jane discovers that her life is about to take a very different direction, and what is Isobel’s secret?

One of the reviews for the collection

This was a beautiful collection of short stories with an intriguing premise: each story is titled by the name of its main character, and there is one story with a male name and one with a female name for each letter of the alphabet (through J–Vol. II completes the alphabet).

The way I describe it is far less simple than Sally Cronin makes it. The stories vary widely. Some are funny, some poignant, some teach a lesson. A couple of them made me cry, which is why I recommend that you have a box of tissues nearby when you read the collection.

The one thing that each story does have is a surprising twist at the end–something the reader doesn’t see coming. I thoroughly enjoyed the collection and look forward eagerly to reading Volume II.

To obtain your FREE copy of the collection in either Mobi, Epub or pdf email me or leave your preference in the comments:

In the meantime thank you for dropping in so regularly and for all the wonderful comments and shares. It keeps me motivated.

This week we must say a temporary goodbye to Paul Andruss as he has some offline projects he is pursuing. Hopefully he will be back from time to time and for those of you who have only been following the blog for the last year or so, I will be repeating some of his early posts in his usual monthly slot. I am sure that you join me in thanking him for his amazing posts on legends and myths and the gardening column which has given so much information and pleasure.

Here is his most recent post on Friday with some thoughts on putting a value, not just on our writing but also on the time spent reading.

Three minutes Forty Nine by Paul Andruss.

Also whilst William Price King has been on his summer break I have been sharing the Roberta Flack series with some of her most iconic hits. This coming week it is the start of the Diana Krall repeats, another fabulous artist with a wonderful voice.

This week Carol Taylor shares some colourful recipes for rice. Rice is one of the staples in our home and I am sure in yours, and it is great to get some new ideas on how to prepare.

This week too.. Carol shared one of her travel posts in Thailand to the Red Lotus Sea Lake.


D.G. Kaye shared another very informative and entertaining post for her travel column this week, with a great many tips on how to prepare for any holiday. Security for your luggage and credit cards, valuables and tips for getting the best value for money when booking.

The Getting to Know You Sunday Interview with author Chuck Jackson.

It is my pleasure to welcome author Chuck Jackson to Getting to Know You. Chuck is the author of three memoirs including his latest Guilt: My Companion. On his blog you will find posts on writing, book marketing and also mental health and social issues such as this recent article:

My Personal Stuff

The summer holidays where people are away for a couple of weeks at a time is the busiest time of the year for criminals. Especially when so many of us kindly leave the door open in the virtual world, by announcing our departure and then posting photographs of our fun in the sun!

Letters from America – Seattle and Washington State Park

Odd Jobs and Characters – some I missed out – Advertising Sales and Artificial insemination marketing!

Sally’s Drive time Playlist – 1979 Queen and Dr. Hook

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story Chapters 12 and 13 – Car Rides and Move to Spain

Chapter Fourteen – Our new home and friends.

My review for The Contract by John W. Howell and Gwen Plano

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Summer Sale.

This last couple of weeks there has been a sale in the Cafe and Bookstore, with books that have been reduced in price or even FREE. Some of those discounts will still apply so please check the posts. In these current posts you will also find links to last week’s sale offers as well.

The Blogger Daily – A small selection of the many blog posts that I enjoyed this week.

Cathy Ryan

Health and Healthy Eating

The Immune System and how it works

Nutrients the body needs – Manganese and the link to Asthma.

Prescribed medication – opioid statistics and our responsibility as a patient


Smorgasbord Health Column – Prescribed #Medication #Opioids – Statistics and our responsibility as a patient.

Today I am going to be looking at prescription medication and whilst I am going to give you some overall figures for the UK it is likely that you will find similar statistics in whatever part of the world you live in. In effect this problem impacts the health and lives of billions around the globe.

This is particular relevant with the increase in opioid addiction

Drug overdose deaths in 2016 most likely exceeded 59,000, the largest annual jump ever recorded in the United States, according to preliminary data compiled by The New York Times.

The death count is the latest consequence of an escalating public health crisis: opioid addiction, now made more deadly by an influx of illicitly manufactured fentanyl and similar drugs. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.

Although the data is preliminary, the Times’s best estimate is that deaths rose 19 percent over the 52,404 recorded in 2015. And all evidence suggests the problem has continued to worsen in 2017.

You can read the rest of this report: New York Times – Overdose Deaths Increase

After you have read the post you might like to take a peek in your medicine cabinet and review your own risk factors with regard to the pills you are taking!

Let me emphasise that on no account should you stop taking any prescribed medication without consulting your doctor. You were prescribed it for either an acute infection or chronic condition and it is important that you continue to follow the directions until safe to discontinue taking.

Discussions with your doctor or hospital.

What is important to remember, is that any communication or contact that you have with any health provider, should never be a one-sided interaction. With your health you need to be an active participant and a doctor can only prescribe medication based on accurate information that is either recorded in your existing health notes or what you tell them.

To put this into context let’s have a look at some of the figures for prescriptions in the UK and US

It is estimated that 4.25 billion prescriptions will be filled in retail pharmacies in 2019 in the US… this does not include prescribed medication in hospitals. This makes medication one of the most profitable industry making multi-billions per annum.

Americans are in more pain than any other population around the world. At least, that’s the conclusion that can be drawn from one startling number from recent years: Approximately 80 percent of the global opioid supply is consumed in the United States.

Pain drugs are the second-largest pharmaceutical class globally, after cancer medicines. “There was about 300 million pain prescriptions written in 2015,” Irina Koffler, senior analyst, specialty pharma, Mizuho Securities USA, told CNBC. Global opioid supply

Over 2.5 million prescriptions are written every day in the NHS with around 7000 medications prescribed in every average size hospital.

Errors in the prescription process.

An error can occur at any part of the process – prescribing, transcription, dispensing, administration and monitoring.

The phase that is the most vulnerable to error is at the prescribing stage when incomplete medical histories and incorrect verbal information between patient and doctor takes place.

Prescription faults represent up to 11% of those that are dispensed at a cost of an estimated £400million per year.

Around 16% of those prescription faults result in harm to patients.That is around 45,000 people per day!

Most of these could have been avoided with complete medical records and accurate information taken at the time of prescription.

Issues that need to be taken into consideration and are missed due to lack of communication or incomplete records.

  1. Some drugs have severe side effects that can cause illness or disease either directly or as part of an interaction.
  2. Certain drugs can mask serious illnesses that go undiagnosed and treated.
  3. Lifestyle issues such as alcohol consumption, self-medication with over the counter drugs such as pain-killers. Smoking,recreational drugs or a poor diet that has resulted in nutritional deficiencies.Even regular use of herbal remedies can impact the effectiveness and more importantly the safety of the prescribed medication.
  4. If the patient is very elderly, dehydrated and malnourished, oral medication may not be as effective as the digestive system is not able to process in that form. The delivery system then is not effective and needs to be changed to intravenously into a vein or by sublingual administration beneath the tongue directly into the bloodstream.

How to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Those of you who read my blog will know that I advocate individuals taking responsibility for their own health as far as it is possible. This includes following a healthy diet with at least 80% of foods being fresh and unprocessed to maintain a healthy immune system.

Smoking, being very overweight and other activities that are harmful to your health are likely to result in the need for medical intervention at some point and certainly increases the requirement of prescribed medication.

Keeping your own records.

As we get older our list of health issues throughout our lifetime gets longer.. and longer! You are also more likely to require a hospital visit, and one of the most time consuming, and probably inaccurate activities, is the taking of a medical history on admission to the emergency room or a ward. This is particularly relevant when a patient is in extreme pain or with elderly admissions, as I have experienced when accompanying my mother. Hence the following recommendation that I found saved a great deal of time and stress.

Whatever age you are. I suggest you compile an accurate medical history of your own that includes the following:

  1. Past illnesses from childhood including measles, mumps, German measles and chicken pox. Whilst some cause no further problems, chicken pox for example can lie dormant and result in shingles in later life.
  2. Drugs that have been prescribed in the past such as repeated antibiotics. This can cause an imbalance in the intestinal flora leading to a fungal overgrowth that impacts your immune system. Crohn’s disease,IBS and Gluten intolerance for example can inhibit the absorbtion of vital nutrients for your health and also medications.
  3. Current medications for any diagnosed long-term illnesses and keep copies of your current prescriptions with the list. Also the dosage – 50mls twice a day – one 575mg every 12 hours etc.
  4. Any herbal remedies that you are taking and for what reason.
  5. Any vitamin or mineral supplements. For example taking Vitamin K could affect your blood clotting and the effect of anti-coagulant drugs such as Warfarin.
  6. Any over the counter medications that you take regularly including pain killers.
  7. Any allergies that you have including to foods, insect bites, drugs such as Penicillin, Tetanus, Aspirin etc.
  8. Any past adverse effects from taking medication with a note of the specific drug.
  9. Details of your GP including address and telephone number
  10. Details of your next of kin and give two names with one as prime and one as secondary with a telephone number.
  11. Also note your weekly alcohol consumption (truthful) and if you smoke and how many a day.
  12. There are some key indicators for health that are worth having measured regularly including LDL levels of cholesterol, blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Make a note of your last numbers as these are very useful as a guideline. A doctor is likely to measure your BP but it is still useful to have a recent record to compare.

Even if a doctor insists on retaking your medical notes – you have this with you as an accurate reference.

You should compile this for elderly parents and the other members of your immediate family. It will at the very least provide for a more detailed and therefore accurate record before diagnosis.

Rather than carry around the record in paper format for you and the rest of the family you might consider transferring to a small memory stick attached to your keys. This is very important if you are travelling abroad especially where language may be a barrier to accurate diagnosis so that your records are easily accessed and translated digitally. You can use a marker to put a large red cross on the cover.

When you are at the doctors.

Unfortunately, appointments at the doctors in the UK are invariably restricted to 10 minutes and that is not much time to discuss the problem, make a diagnosis and then prescribe the correct medication. But you can take your own record so that it is easy to refer to when answering questions from the doctor. A paper copy can be kept with your medical records since the majority are still in that format and not digital or if possible your computerised records can be updated.

If you are then prescribed medication it is time to participate again by asking important questions.  Here is a brief checklist that you can add to depending on your own health issues.

  1. What are the main causes of my condition?
  2. What does this drug do?
  3. Are there any changes I can make to diet or lifestyle that I could put in place immediately so that we can postpone this prescription?
  4. If I take this prescription now for the immediate problem what changes can I make so that I am only taking short-term?
  5. How often and when should I take the medication? (every 8 hours, after meals etc)
  6. Does it need to be kept in the fridge or any other specific storage instructions?
  7. What are the likely side-effects?
  8. Is there anything in my current prescribed or over the counter medications that this drug might interact with?
  9. What should I do if I begin to feel unwell after taking the drug?
  10. When do you want to see me again to monitor my progress?

You might like to visit the American Recall Centre for information regarding some specific drugs and medical appliances that may cause side-effects that can be serious. You will also find informative articles and news items on recently reported issues with prescribed medication.

Medication errors: the importance of an accurate drug history by Richard J Fitzgerald

Out of date medications

As a final note, please check your medicine cabinet and collect together drugs that are out of date or no longer required and take them to a pharmacy for safe disposal, Some doctors will also take them back but check with them. Do not tip down the toilet or down the sink as they will contaminate the ground water. Evidence suggests that this is already the case..

Don’t put unused medication in the trash (you don’t know who might find them including children. Also animals scavenge rubbish and might get hold of them. If you do put empty prescription bottles in the trash then remove the label with your information.

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health – 1998- 2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook from:

And Amazon UK:

I would love to connect to you on social media.

Google + :

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

Smorgasbord Health Column – The #Immune System – How it Works

Like most things in life there are two sides to every story, which means there are the good guys and the bad guys. When it comes to our health this involves healthy bacteria and dangerous bacteria.

All creatures, including of course humans, have an amazingly complex but effective system to distinguish between the two, and to ensure that we don’t come to harm.

Our Immune System.

This system has been evolving over hundreds of thousands of years and developing strategies to protect us every time it met with a new threat. This is often; as germs mutate when they meet resistance and our software needs frequent updating.

The majority of the bacteria in our body is designed to be there. These are the friendlies and our home defence team. Without a gut teeming with them many of our systems would grind to a halt, our brains would not function and our blood would uselessly circulate our bodies without anything to transport. Our food would not be processed and nutrients would not reach the organs that depend entirely on them to survive.

Along with the worker bacterial cells there are the front line soldiers who rush to our defence when we are under attack. Provided we have a healthy diet of unprocessed natural foods these fighters are in enough numbers to do the job. However, throw sugars and industrial food into the equation along with laziness and you rob your immune system of this vital defence component and you are open to attack.

One of the issues that is also playing a huge part in our downgrading of our anti-virus software is the overuse of commercial anti-bacterial products.  Not only can the active ingredients be harmful to us, but if too strong, their actions can prevent us coming into contact with bacteria needed for our immune systems to detect or develop antibodies.

Having said that, children need to be exposed to un-lethal germs from an early age to develop their immature immune systems effectively.  Living in a home that is 99% germ free is a great concept but the world outside is 99% germ invested.  A child needs to be able to cope with that, and can only do so if its defence system has been allowed to come up to standard.

In the posts on the immune system I will be looking at how it works and what it needs to do so effectively.

In this post  I will cover the components of this complex defence mechanism, how it works and how to maintain its efficiency with some changes in diet.

It is a system that is usually taken for granted and treated with disrespect until it lets us down, and then we blame it for making us ill.  In fact if we have not provided this vital function within our body, the foods containing the nutrients it requires; it is us who is to blame. Many millions in the world do not have access to fresh produce and are unable to give their immune systems what it needs, causing widespread disease. This means that it is even more important for those of us who do live with the luxury of food choice to make the most of it.

Without an efficiently functioning immune system we would all have to spend our lives in a bubble without any contact with the outside world. Ever. One minor infection could kill you!

There have been a number of cases over the years of children born with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID). They have been forced to spend their lives separated by clear plastic from their family and any contact with bacteria or viruses. Today, thankfully with gene therapy, this devastating disease is curable, but for some a normal life is simply not possible.

The immune system is another one of our silent partners and is an extremely important one. Our most crucial years in terms of this amazing system in our body, is our childhood, when our contact with people, animals, grass, pollens, foods; develops the immune system until it becomes our guardian angel. Watching and waiting for any breach in our system and rushing to our defence within seconds of the alarm being sounded. (Anyone who has had a child going to nursery or school for the first time will have experienced first-hand the process, as the mass contact produces a whole raft of immune system strengthening infections!) It is however, never too late to make the changes necessary to strengthen your immune system.

In a nutshell if your immune system is not functioning well, your entire body including the tissues, organs and systems, suffer damage and cannot repair themselves. Additionally you are wide open to bacterial, viral and toxic invaders who are looking for a nesting site. You have what they need to reproduce and thrive but they like to make some adjustments when they arrive. They like a lovely acidic, toxic, waste filled environment without too much oxygen. (A rubbish diet with little exercise will achieve that nicely)

They are particularly fond of a new home that does not have troublesome neighbours such as anti-oxidants and they prefer a quiet life without too much exercise so that they get on and breed. They are a class act and make sure that they give you something back in the form of rent. Frequent colds and flu, thrush, skin complaints, fatigue and stomach problems. If you are a really up market landlord and are offering premium accommodation they will pay you back with arthritis, rheumatism, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and cancer.

The immune system is not involved in just our internal defences. It actually has a pretty formidable array of physical barriers that are designed to keep pathogens, which is all harmful substances out of our bodies.

Our first line of defence

The skin is our main external protector. If it is not damaged it will not allow harmful substances to enter the blood stream. The problem is that of course it is porous and is designed to allow fluids out and in through the pores. So any substance that touches your skin such as chemical preparations can pass right through. For example if you use strong household cleaners these contain highly toxic substances that will pass through the dermal layer and store in the tissues causing anything to a mild rash to a violent allergic reaction. This is why you must wear gloves when using them. Many of us react to perfume, cosmetics or even simple hand creams that our body obviously thinks of as toxic. If you cut yourself then germs can pass through directly to the bloodstream and from there they have complete access to the rest of your body.

We have special hairs and mucus tissues in our nose, mouth and throat that are designed to catch anything harmful.   If a toxin gets as far as our stomachs, then acid and enzymes will react and cause you to vomit to get rid of it. Should any harmful bacteria, virus or toxin get past these barriers then we have a very complex system of cells and anti-bodies that will rush to our defence. Most of us have suffered stomach upsets before and it is just the body getting rid of the toxins. (More about these in a later post.)

The liver is of course the place where most of these toxins are going to pass through, and it has specific enzymes designed to destroy them so that they can then be evicted from the body. Which is fine if the toxicity is only occasional but unfortunately our modern diet and environment puts the liver under a great deal of pressure and toxins will not all be expelled, going on to do sometimes irreparable damage.

Free radicals running riot through the body.

If you cut an apple and effectively damage it, within a few minutes it will begin to turn brown. If you leave it long enough the tissue of the apple will begin to break down and you will end up with a liquid, bacteria covered and unidentifiable lump on your cutting board. That just about sums up what free radical damage does to your body. We bandy about the phrase Free Radicals as if they are some dissident political group or school yard bullies which is essentially true. Like most bullies they are missing something and want yours.

A free radical is a molecule. A normal molecule has an even number of electrons and is considered stable. Free radicals on the other hand have an uneven number of electrons and are unstable. They are desperate to be like the normal molecules so they have to steal from them to get another electron. This of course means that they have created another free radical. More and more cells become damaged and leave the body open to most diseases including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Like the apple the damage is a kind of oxidation, which is the action of adding oxygen to a substance or rusting and when I wrote about cholesterol, it was the low density lipoprotein with its smaller particles that becomes oxidised by free radicals making it unhealthy.

Do Free Radicals have a positive effect on the body?

Ironically the immune system uses some free radicals to go and steal an electron from harmful molecules that have entered the system illegally. Problem is, like everything else in the body we need balances and checks. The Free Radical police are anti-oxidants and if you have not got enough of them then the free radicals become vigilantes and go after everything that moves.

Also we create free radicals when we exercise energetically and take in additional oxygen. These then assist with the metabolism of foods that enter the body. Again if the balance between these and anti-oxidants is not correct more free radicals are created than are needed. This is why we need a healthy diet including foods that provide these anti-oxidants.

vegetablesThose of you who read my articles on a regular basis know what is coming next!… To boost your immune system there are some very easy guidelines to follow.

  1. Cut out sugars from your diet so that you are only ingesting a maximum of 6 teaspoons per day in cooked foods and as a sweetener. Effectively, that means do not eat industrial processed foods, particularly items such as breakfast cereals and most commercial flavoured yogurts. Do not be taken in by low-fat food and those that say artificially sweetened. The chemical stuff is definitely unhealthy and has documented side effects. Too much sugar in the system provides a wonderful environment for all toxic pathogens and your immune system will only be able to stand on the side lines as its defence team fights a losing battle.
  2. Industrially produced foods has been through a machine, rarely has many natural ingredients and has chemical additives. If it is wrapped in plastic, comes in a packet or has very attractive cardboard advertising then treat with suspicion. Most of the time your immune system will spend more time dealing with the toxins than your digestive system will take to consume and process.
  3. Drink sufficient fluids to help toxins pass out of the body. If you are one of those who boast that you manage on a cup or two of tea a day and that you get all the fluids you need from the food you eat; think again. We lose moisture when we exhale, through our skin and when we pee which adds up to between 1.5 to 2 litres per day. You cannot replenish that from food alone and if you pinch the skin on the back of your hand and it is slow to resume its normal smooth appearance then you are dehydrated. This will impact how your immune system functions.
  4. Adopt the 80/20 rule for your diet. 80% all fresh natural produce that has been grown, picked or dug up out of the ground. The brighter the colour the better. I know that having a busy work and personal life makes this daunting sometimes but I use frozen vegetables all the time.. Especially out of season. The only two that I usually prefer to prepare myself are carrots, potatoes and sweet potato as the frozen ones do not taste as good. Also economically onions are much better non-frozen but I do in bulk and they keep in the fridge for a week. Green vegetables particularly are very good these days and if you are really in a hurry get a good quality mixed veg bag.
  5.  Combine with good quality protein that has not been mass farmed (farm shops are great) and moderate intake of whole grains. (White carbohydrates are treated like sugar by the body. Milk, Butter, Eggs and Olive Oil should also be part of your nutritional shopping list as they provide vitamins and minerals as well as Omega Fatty Acids to boost your entire system.
  6. Follow my ‘Cook From Scratch’ approach to eating.
  7.  20% of your diet is where the Red Wine, Dark Chocolate and occasional Guinness comes in!

Next time – ignorance is not bliss.. your body is your only real asset and its well-being should be your primary concern.

©Justfoodforhealth 1998 -2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook from

And Amazon UK:

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4:

You can find all the previous posts in the Health Column in this directory:

Thanks for dropping in and please feel free to share.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Health Column – #Summer Eating – Stuffed Peppers and Fajitas.

This week I have two recipes for a main course, one of which is vegetarian and the other is a low fat version of one of my favourite Mexican meals, Fajitas.

Summer is not all about eating salads and cold meals. Especially if you are entertaining and certainly in Texas which has long, and very hot and humid summers, was the place that we were introduced to fajitas. Since your family or guests are basically compiling the meal themselves it is great to stick bowls in the centre of the table and tell them to dig in.

First a vegetarian option although you can add chicken, prawns, salmon etc to the dish if you wish.

Stuffed Red Peppers.

Here is a recipe that is packed with many of the nutrients needed to keep your circulatory system healthy and clear of blockages. Full of B-vitamins, vitamin C, fibre and essential fatty acids. If you wish you can add some lean meat, fish or chicken to the stuffing.

Ingredients for four people.

  • 4 large red peppers
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 courgette chopped
  • 4 oz of shitake mushrooms
  • 4 oz of chopped walnuts
  • 4 oz of finely chopped celery
  • 2oz of porridge oats.
  • 2 large tomatoes finely chopped.
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped basil
  • ½ teaspoon of pimiento
  • 4 oz of grated Edam cheese.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoon of olive oil.
  • Optional extra. Add a chopped (cooked) chicken breast, lean lamb or fresh salmon.


The oven needs to be preheated to 180 C.

Put the oil, onion, celery, courgette and shitake mushrooms into a pan and cook for about 5 minutes gently. Stir in your tomatoes and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the oats, walnuts, basil and seasoning.

Cut the peppers in half lengthways and seed them. Either put into boiling water for two or three minutes or microwave in a steamer for the same time. Put them in a shallow ovenproof dish and fill each one with the vegetable mixture.

Cover with foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes and then remove foil. Put the grated Edam cheese over the top of each pepper and replace in the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes until the cheese has melted.

Serve with large spinach, rocket, tomato, walnut salad or with some wholegrain and wild rice.


Turkey Fajitas for 6 people.

I usually allow three tortillas per person and I also use the soft maize tortillas as being the best and the largest for this dish.

In last week’s post  I gave you the recipe for Guacamole and also a Salsa and you can use both of these as garnish for the fajitas. It is also customary to use sour cream but I substitute fromage blanc or frais both of which you can get in low fat varieties in the supermarkets.

There is nothing worse than a mean fajita. So I use plenty of lean turkey instead of beef or chicken or you can use large peeled prawns if you prefer.

SEASONING. I use this low salt recipe to sprinkle over the vegetables and meat during cooking.

  • Pimiento 5 teaspoons
  • Chili Powder 6 teaspoons
  • Garlic Powder 2 teaspoons
  • Ground Cumin 4 teaspoons
  • Salt ¼ teaspoon
  • Black pepper ¼ teaspoon.

Turkey filling

  • 2 whole turkey breasts, sliced into long strips.
  • 2 large Red Peppers sliced lengthwise into strips
  • 2 large Green or yellow peppers sliced lengthwise into strips
  • 4 large Onions sliced into thick rings
  • 18 soft corn or wheat tortillas.
  • Olive Oil


In a large oven proof dish arrange all the vegetables in layers sprinkling a little of the seasoning onto each lager drizzle a little olive oil over the dish and put into a hot oven around 200 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove and add the strips of turkey so that they do not overlap and put the remaining seasoning over the entire dish. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and put back in the oven until the turkey is cooked thoroughly which is about 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve in the oven dish at the table.

Warm your tortillas and a tip here is to put 6 each in a foil packet and pop in the oven for the last 5 minutes cooking time. Or you can use a microwave spanish tortilla container and put 6 tortillas in at a time for 2 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave two of the packets in there until you need them.

On the table you will need dishes of guacamole, salsa and fromage blanc. By all means use sour cream or Crème Fraiche is you are not worried about the calories. You can also serve grated cheese with the other dressings.

How to eat if you are a fajita novice…..

For anyone who has not eaten fajitas before, a teaspoon of each sauce is spread over a warm tortilla and then the peppers, onions and turkey mix is placed in the middle. The bottom end of the tortilla is folded towards the middle and the two sides are brought over to form a wrap. The whole thing is eaten with your hands.

I usually have a large bowl of the spinach salad on the table as well as it helps if the food is spicier for some people than normal.

You can substitute lean beef, chicken fresh peeled prawns in the recipe and adjust the cooking times slightly. If you are vegetarian then add your favourite vegetables and roasted these make a delicious alternative.

Hope this has given you some ideas for simple meals that are nutrient packed.

You will find the posts for Summer Fruit Salad, Guacamole and Salsa, Chilled Soups and Salads in the health directory under Shopping list and healthy recipes:

© Just Food for Health  Sally Cronin 1998 – 2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook from:

And Amazon UK:

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4:

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – #Summer Foods, Reading and Book Sale

The Music Column with William Price King – Roberta Flack part three

The Food and Cookery Column with Carol Taylor – Salads, Coleslaw and Potato cakes

The Literary Column with Jessica Norrie – Summer Reads – Books for Beach and Garden

Posts from Your Archives – Travel – The Old City Dubrovnik, Croatia by Sherri Matthews

The Pearl of the Adriatic - Old City Dubrovnik taken as we approach from the road above. Look at that sea! (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

Getting to Know You – Sunday Interview with Traci Kenworth.

This week my guest is Traci Kenworth who is incredibly supportive of the blogging community and has regularly shared posts from here in her comprehensive blog post promotions. If you head over to her blog you will find several shared posts a day leading to some of our most interesting bloggers. She also has her own posts on blogging and writing tips.

Personal Stuff

Letters from America – Curry parties and booze buys

Odd Jobs and Characters – Some more of my career adventures – This week crystal glasses, car crash and meeting Sherlock Holmes

Sally’s Drive Time Play list – 1978 – Gloria Gaynor and Bee Gees

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story –

Sam, shares his thoughts on meeting other members of the family including my mother!

Sam shares his favourite walks in Ireland…


Cafe and Bookstore New on the Shelves

Cafe and Bookstore Summer Sale

Welcome toSummer Sale posts with discounted books by authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore with links to Amazon and Smashwords. There are two more sale posts scheduled for the  16th and 20th of July. As well as another FREE book post.

Blogger Daily and meet the Reviewers.


Eating plan for the kidneys and the urinary tract

Summer eating snacks, dips, guacamole and salsa


Nutrients the body needs Manganese – asthma, diabetes, heart disease

cannelinni beans

Recall of frozen mixed vegetables containing sweetcorn – Home brands – due to Listeria contamination


I hope you have enjoyed the week and thank you so much for all the support you have offered. Always enjoy receiving your comments.. thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Health Column – #Recall for over 50 brands of frozen sweetcorn over #listeria contamination – #check your freezer

Over the last two weeks there has been a recall of over 50 products containing frozen sweetcorn, due to fears that it has been contaminated with listeria. Although listeria is killed when food is cooked at the right temperature, the fear is that many people will use frozen sweetcorn, thawed in salads but not reheated.

Listeria outbreak forces supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Aldi to recall MORE frozen products due to fears they may be contaminated – taking the list to 50

If you go to the article you will find the full list of the 50 products recalled in the UK: Daily Mail – Recall list for frozen sweetcorn products.

It is known that the sweetcorn originated in Hungary and that some of the contaminated batches were packaged in Poland. It was produced by a Belgian firm called Greenyard, which says it is Europe’s second biggest seller of frozen vegetables and fruit, at a plant in Baja. The company has factories across Europe, including two in Britain.

The Hungarian authorities shut down the Baja plant on June 29 and issued a recall of frozen vegetable products produced between August 2016 and June 2018. However, The European Food Safety Authority, which has been investigating the outbreak, said this does not mean that the threat is eliminated.

It warned: ‘New cases could still emerge due to the long incubation period of listeriosis of up to 70 days; the long shelf-life of frozen corn products; and the consumption of corn bought before the recalls.’

Greenyard said the recall ‘involved include frozen corn, peas, beans, spinach and sorrel. The recall initiative of these products does not imply that they are contaminated.

Read the rest of the article: Tesco, Sainsbury, Aldi Listeria recall

Here is my post from last year – Food Safety – Listeria – An invisible and unwanted visitor.

We often hear horror stories of insects or small animals found in food that we buy – let me tell you the worst thing is to find only half an insect or small animal after you have eaten the rest of the food!!

There is no doubt with careful hygiene and thorough cooking methods in the home the risks are minimised, but more and more we are becoming social animals who eat out in restaurants, or who compromise, and buy ready prepared meals in our local supermarket.

I cannot say in all honesty, that everything that I put into my mouth, is prepared by me alone from fresh, guaranteed organic sources. With the best intentions in the world it is impossible not to have food in your house that has not passed through several human hands before reaching our table.

Although food handling regulations are much tougher, I am afraid the reality is that many of those hands will have been unwashed!

The best that we can do is prepare from scratch when possible, and ensure that we cook all food to the correct temperatures, that are sufficient to kill the majority of bacteria and viruses.

In this post I am going to focus on Listeria, which is a genus of rod-shaped bacteria found in animal and human faeces, on vegetation and in some soil and water. It is a parasite that thrives in warm and cold-blooded animals, including of course humans.

A member of the Listeria family is called monocytogenes and can cause the illness listeriosis. It is unfortunately very resistant to a number of first line defences, such as freezing, drying and to some extent heating. It can grow in temperatures ranging from just above freezing to 113 degrees Fahrenheit, including the temperature range we use for refrigeration.

The most common source of infection is ready to eat meat foods, including hot dogs, cut meats, dry sausage and pre-cooked poultry. Although the preparation of dairy products such as soft cheese includes pasteurisation, the food can become contaminated after cooking. It can also apply to vegetables that have been processed such as pre-prepared salads on the shelves of supermarkets.

Who is at most risk of infection?

As is usual in these cases the very young and very old are the most vulnerable. However with listeria, pregnant women are definitely at risk, which is why it is usual to recommend they do not eat products such as soft cheese during their pregnancy. They are at risk of miscarriage or premature labour, and the infection of the new-born baby.

Anyone who is already ill, and has a weakened immune system, will be susceptible especially those undergoing cancer treatments. Certain medications can leave you open to infection such as cortisone.

Most healthy children and adults are resistant to Listeria, and most people who are infected will recover within a few weeks. There have been cases however that have developed into life threatening conditions such as blood poisoning, meningitis or encephalitis.

What are the symptoms of a listeria infection?

One of the problems connected with detecting the presence of the virus is the length of time between contamination and the first symptoms appearing at usually around three weeks. It is further complicated by the varied nature of the symptoms, but the most common ones are similar to the flu with a fever and muscle aches. There will likely be a gastric upset and in most cases stiff neck, headache and confusion.

Most of us with a robust immune system will recover without intervention but those who are vulnerable, such as babies and toddlers, the elderly and pregnant mums, are at greater risk.

The danger in the case of a pregnant woman is that she might only experience mild flu like symptoms and be unaware of the danger to her unborn child.

How do we prevent infection?

It is impossible to eradicate Listeria completely but you can take precautions that will limit your exposure.

  • As with all food you really must prepare appropriately.
  • As with other bacterial and viral contaminants, storing your food correctly is very important. Always store your meat and poultry at the bottom of the fridge so that they cannot drip on other foods and always put cooked foods on plates that have not held the raw meat.
  • Wash your own hands regularly and encourage your family to do so, as they are likely to be in and out of the kitchen and fridge at some stage during the cooking process.
  • Thoroughly cook and re-heat meat, fish and egg products and do not consume raw even if you are an avid steak Tartare fan.
  • Wash salad vegetables and do reheat any frozen vegetables.

On the subject of pasteurised milk vs. raw milk

The governmental guidelines are that you should not drink milk that has not been pasteurised. Even if you live on a farm, milk straight from the cow could have been contaminated by the animal’s faeces. There is a trend in recent years to drink raw milk and there is some nutritional sense to the argument and Ireland has recently made it legal to buy raw milk from farmers and recognised outlets. Here are some of the reasons that the campaigners state are important to be taken into consideration.. I have also included a link for you to head over and check it out.

Raw Milk Benefits – Nutrition

A recently published study of over 8,300 children in rural parts of continental Europe found a significant reduction in asthma development of 41% for raw milk drinkers. They were also half as likely to develop hay fever as those who drank shop bought or boiled milk. This research has linked the benefits to whey proteins in the milk which are destroyed in the process of pasteurisation (1).

The first raw milk conference was recently held in Prague. Some of the study results included significant reductions in asthma, atopy and allergies in children who drink raw milk. In most of these studies the children drinking raw milk lived on a farm. The children in the control groups usually lived in rural areas but drank shop bought, pasteurised milk (2).

A small study has shown children who are allergic to shop bought milk and react immediately to its consumption are able to tolerate raw milk without experiencing any adverse affects (2).

You may not have heard of glutathione but it is a potent anti-oxidant manufactured in our bodies which keeps vitamins C and E (also anti-oxidants) in their reduced, active forms. Anti-oxidants are essential to keeping free radicals and other toxins under control and one of the most foundational of these is glutathione. Raw milk is one of the best sources of the amino acids needed to manufacture glutathione; unfortunately these are denatured in the pasteurisation process thus preventing the body from manufacturing it (3).

You can find more information on raw milk:

More ways to safeguard yourself against listeria.

  • Keep your kitchen and utensils spotless using very hot water and soap.
  • Wash all vegetables and fruit thoroughly.
  • Ensure that any soft cheeses are from a reputable source. Buying direct from the market or from the supermarket deli counter may not be the wisest choice. At least if the product is wrapped and sealed at source it will have not had the same opportunity to be infected. Some of the cheeses that are possible sources of the infection are Feta, Brie, Camembert, Blue Cheeses and other cream cheeses, as these have not been pasteurised.
  • When you have cooked food never allow to stand for more than two hours before eating. They should be kept at temperatures above 140 degrees Fahrenheit; anything below that and the L. monocytogenes will thrive.
  • When you are out for a meal do not accept any meat that is totally uncooked in the centre, particularly minced beef products such as burgers. Send back and ask for a fresh plate, bun and salad.
  • Always refrigerate food that you have bought within two hours of purchase. Take cooler bags with ice packs to the supermarket if you are intending to be longer than that.
  • If you are pregnant you should avoid the above soft cheeses altogether along with smoked fish, sushi and pates and meat pastes from the deli. Canned pates and meat spreads have been treated to prevent bacterial infection but they contain preservatives and other additives that you may wish to avoid.

How do you treat listeriosis?

If you develop a stomach upset with flu like symptoms and a stiff neck it is likely that you have listeriosis although a blood test would be needed to confirm that diagnosis. Go to your doctor and if he determines that is the problem you will be treated with antibiotics.

  • Pregnant women will be treated immediately and this will help to protect the foetus from infection.
  • As with any gastric upset the very young and elderly become dehydrated very quickly which can lead to further complications. Always ensure that you are taking in plenty of fluids to help your body flush through the virus and as soon as you can eat foods that will help your body boost both your immune system and restore your friendly bacterial balance.
  • Onions and garlic have anti-bacterial properties and drinking green tea can also help.
  • When you are ready to eat food, prepare vegetable soups and eat bananas to help restore mineral and electrolyte balance.
  • Do not drink alcohol or other stimulants as your liver needs to recover and get on with the job in hand which is eliminate toxins from your body.
  • Rest and allow your body to recover before undertaking any exercise or any vigorous activity.

If you live in the UK or Republic of Ireland where there are Tesco and Aldi stores selling their own brand sweetcorn, please check your freezer for any of the suspect packets. Most appear to be home brand cheaper products that most supermarkets offer. The vast majority are sourced from safe and regulated suppliers but if they contain sweetcorn you should take precautions.

The stores have removed already from their freezers so going forward there should be no further problem.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Nutrients the body needs – Manganese – Asthma, Diabetes, Heart disease, Osteoporosis, mental health.

Manganese is a macro mineral or trace element that is essential for the normal formation of bone and cartilage. It is also necessary for efficient metabolism of glucose and forms part of the antioxidant superoxide dismutase.

Unfortunately only about 5% of dietary manganese is absorbed which means that adequate amounts need to be taken in on a daily basis in our food.

Thyroid function

It is involved in a number of production processes including energy production, healthy joints, immune system function, sex hormones and thyroxine one of the hormones produced by the thyroid gland. Without thyroxine our metabolism would be inefficient and there would be an effect on every aspect of our health.

There are certain diseases where tests have shown the patients have been deficient in manganese and these include:

  • diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • heart disease
  • atherosclerosis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • mental conditions such as schizophrenia.

What is the role of manganese in bone health?

normal-bone-micrographWe tend to think of calcium and magnesium being the major bone minerals but in fact manganese and one of the main nutrients in Spinach, Vitamin K are also absolutely essential to ensure healthy bones.

Bone is not a solid substance. It is a living and changing tissue that not only provides the structural framework for our bodies but also is used to protect major organs such as the brain, spinal cord and the nursery for blood vessels.

We have all made plaster or papier-mâché; sculptures at school and would have begun with a framework and some form of mesh, usually made from chicken wire. In the body this mesh is called the osteoid and is made up of protein, collagen, elastin and Glucosamine polymers.

New bone is being produced all the time, particularly if there are breaks or wear and tear, so this mesh requires certain nutrients in our diet all the time including Vitamin C for collagen and B6, copper and zinc.

The Glucosamine polymers also contain manganese and to effectively combine all these components you need Vitamin K.

Once the network is in place calcium and magnesium have a framework that they can attach themselves to and bone is formed.

What other roles does manganese play in the body?

The body’s operating systems have a workforce made up of enzymes. Enzymes are protein based molecules that speed up all the chemical processes in the body or act as a catalyst for a particular function. For example without enzymes, digestion of food would not happen and we would be starved of the nutrients we need to survive. Without enzymes we could not live.

Manganese plays a role in most major enzyme activities in the body by activating certain nutrients necessary to the process such as biotin (manufacture of glycogen and prostaglandins in the immune system), thiamin, Vitamin C (immune system) and Choline (essential neurotransmitter in the brain). It is also involved in the synthesis or fatty acids and cholesterol, is involved in the processing of protein and carbohydrates and also in the manufacture of some hormones.

Therefore manganese helps maintain normal blood sugar levels, thyroid function, cholesterol levels, a healthy nervous system and acts as an antioxidant.

What are the symptoms of a manganese deficiency?

If someone is suffering from pre-diabetes and has elevated blood sugar levels they are likely to be deficient in manganese in their diet. In extreme cases they may suffer from nausea and vomiting, skin rashes, dizziness and hearing loss. It is internally however that the real damage may be occurring and that is in extensive bone loss that might only be identified in late middle age.

Despite manganese not often appearing in a starring role in nutritional information; it is involved in the treatment or prevention of a number of conditions including asthma.

Coming up next week.. Manganese and Asthma in more detail.

Food sources for manganese

cannelinni beansThankfully there are plenty of delicious food sources for this mineral and they should all be included regularly in the healthy eating plan. A really good source for nutrients and protein are beans and I will also feature a post on those later in the week including how to prepare ‘wind free’ recipes!

Other foods that contain good amounts of manganese include spinach, brown rice, tomatoes and walnuts.

wholegrainsIt is important to include asparagus, pineapples, wholegrains, porridge oats, dark green leafy vegetables, raspberries and strawberries regularly. If you cook with herbs and spices basil, cloves, cinnamon, thyme, black pepper and oregano; they too will add manganese to your diet.

If you are including the above foods regularly during the week there should be no reason to experience a deficiency. Take a look at a week’s food diary and check them off and if necessary make some adjustments to ensure you are getting sufficient.

© Just Food for Health  Sally Cronin 1998 – 2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook from

And Amazon UK:

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4:

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Health Column – Eating plan for healthy #kidneys and urinary tract


To finish off the posts from last week on the kidneys and urinary tract, here is an example of an eating plan that may help you recover from an infection or other health issue effecting this system.  I find useful as part of my two gentle detoxes each year to follow a similar eating plan, and it gives the whole body a boost, but specifically major organs such as the liver, which work tirelessly to keep us healthy without a break.

If you have read the posts on the kidneys & urinary tract, you will be aware of the physical precautions that you can take to avoid infection and now we need to look at some of the foods that you can eat daily to help protect you from both these conditions.

First and foremost you need to ensure that you are taking in sufficient fluids. These are essential for flushing the toxins through the system such as bacteria and ensuring that chemicals do not crystallize and form kidney stones.

It is very important that you drink little and often throughout the day to ensure a steady flow of fluids, and less stress on the organs that have to deal with it. The recommendation for kidney stone sufferers is actually more than my recommended 2 litres, nearer three.

There are certain foods that will help prevent bacterial growth and reduce the risk of stones but there are also foods that you need to avoid if you are prone to both these conditions.

Research has shown that a diet that is very high in animal protein and fat can cause a chemical imbalance that can encourage the formation of stones. Include  lean proteins such as turkey and fish in moderate quantities. Also, sugar, coffee and alcohol in excess all damage the kidneys so these should be in moderation.

A glass of wine per evening is always better than bingeing once a week.

Drinking Green Tea would be better for you than drinking lots of coffee. The antioxidants in the tea will also help with damage to both kidneys and the rest of the urinary tract.

Cranberry juice (sugar free) has been shown to contain properties that inhibit the adhesion of bacteria to the soft tissues inside the urinary tract as do blueberries that can be added to a fruit salad.

A deficiency in potassium can lead to kidney problems. Potassium helps maintain the body’s correct water balance. Eating bananas and spinach, avocado, dried apricots, potatoes, pumpkinseeds and lots of fruit will boost your levels.

It is important to reduce the amount of salt in your diet as this increases the chances of kidney damage and high blood pressure. Excess salt causes dehydration, which in turn can cause both kidney problems and stones.

I have covered calcium in previous posts, and how it can be a very volatile mineral if it is not counterbalanced with another like magnesium. So it is important to take calcium in moderation combined with high magnesium foods like whole grains such as brown rice and spinach and salmon and seeds.

Tap water and calcium

Check to see if the tap water in your area is particularly high in calcium. If your kettle is furring up then the chances are that it is. I have also mentioned sodium levels in mineral water. Check to see if the water you are buying is high in this mineral as it will affect your blood pressure and choose one with less.

There is some argument that you should take foods out of the diet if they have a high oxalic content. This is found for example in spinach. However, if you have a balanced healthy diet that has moderate amounts of all food groups, you should find that, like your other major organs, the kidney’s health would be either protected or improved following an episode of kidney stones.

It is really important that you do not eat industrially processed foods during the weeks that you are following his programme. Apart from plain cereals such as porridge oats and you can just about get away with shredded wheat. Check labels for added salt and sugar.

vegetablesExample of an eating plan for healthy kidneys & urinary tract


  • Glass of water or cup of hot water with the juice of half a lemon.
  • Drink at least 6 throughout the day if you are drinking cranberry juice and green tea as well.
  • 8 oz. glass of cranberry juice
  • Shredded wheat or porridge oats sprinkled with blueberries.
  • Slice of wholegrain toast with butter and local organic honey or savoury with pureed tomatoes.
  • Cup of Green tea.

Morning snack

  • Cup of black or green tea.
  • 2 rye crispbread with mashed banana or sliced cucumber
  • Glass of water


  • Brown rice risotto with chopped onions, mushrooms, garlic, peppers and olive oil.
  • Spinach and tomato salad.
  • Green Tea

Afternoon snack

  • Mix of pumpkin-seeds and dried apricots.
  • Glass of water


  • Glass of cranberry juice for another 12 hour protection.
  • Avocado and orange salad.
  • Salmon or turkey fillet – grilled.
  • New potatoes
  • Broccoli and carrots.
  • Glass of wine
  • Glass of water


  • Fresh fruit salad made from favourite fruits and sprinkle of blueberries and chopped banana.
  • or
  • Handful of walnuts or pumpkin-seeds.
  • Cup of green tea.

I hope you have found this useful and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook from

And Amazon UK:

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4:

Thank you for dropping today and I hope you have found useful.. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Roberta Flack, Roses, Bacon, Cruise Ship Tips, Jersey and a whole bunch of other stuff!!

The Music Column with William Price King – Roberta Flack – Part Two.

The Gardening Column with Paul Andruss

This month a look at the history, myths and truths behind one of the most popular flowers in the world. The Rose.

The Food and Cookery Column with Carol Taylor

There are not many of us who don’t love a piece of crispy bacon or tender boiled ham, and this week Carol shows us how to cure our own bacon and prepare ham for our summer salads.

The Travel Column with D.G. Kaye – Cruise Ships – Part Two – Ship Tips

This week Debby shares her insider knowledge about dining, tipping, excursions and shopping. Invaluable advice before you take that cruise.

Getting to Know You – Sunday Interview with Darlene Foster.

Darlene shares a favourite childhood song, an action hero she would like to be, something that she could never learn….you will be surprised considering the number of books that she writes! And the animal she would like to have a conversation with..

Travel Posts from Your Archives Sherri Matthews – A Tour of Jersey and the history of the island during World War Two.

Corbiere Lighthouse, Jersey (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Personal Stuff

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story Serialisation

Chapter Seven – Snow and Favourite Things.

Chapter Eight – Language

Odd Jobs and Characters – Department manager for a store leads to crime solving!

Letters from America – 1985- 1987 – Hawaii

Poetry and Haiku

Sally’s Drive Time and Playlist

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves

Author updated reviews

The Blogger Daily and Meet the Reviewers.

Cathy Ryan

Health Column

Magnesium is one of the minerals that is likely to be deficient with a resulting long list of health problems.

Often mis-diagnosed Interstitial cystitis is difficult to treat.