Smorgasbord Health Column – UnSeasonal Affective Disorder – The Missing Link – Vitamin D by Sally Cronin


Normally I would refer to Seasonal Affective Disorder in February as the winter months take their toll on our physical, mental and emotional health. However, reading the various reports in the media on Vitamin D Deficiency being one of the causes for susceptibility to Covid-19 and raised concerns on the levels of mental health issues including depression, the comments from readers who are experiencing lack of energy and focus, I began to see some parallels to SAD, but six months ahead of schedule. You can find more about SAD in Part One

Regular visitors will have read my previous posts on Vitamin D but as one of the key nutrients for the efficiency of our immune system, I will keep banging this particular drum.

First a reminder if you missed the first post in this series of the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Unexplained weight gain and loss
  • Slow growth in children,
  • Overeating of carbohydrates and sugars
  • Insomnia
  • Increased infections.

In my recent series Project 101 – Resilience I shared some of the recent research into the nutrient’s connection to the current pandemic.

There have been a number of risk factors identified that put certain groups of the population at a higher risk of a critical outcome from being infected with Covid- 19 – one of these is a deficiency of Vitamin D which is also a key nutrient in preventing SAD.

It was initially thought to be more common in those living in the Northern Hemisphere. However, there is also evidence that shows that middle-aged women in countries such as Greece and Italy also suffer from Vitamin D deficiency, largely due to the fact that they tend to cover up and avoid the sunshine. Many countries now fortify dairy products and other foods and that does appear to help the deficiency status of the population.

There have been a number of studies to determine if in fact having sufficient Vitamin D levels offers protection or minimises the severity of Covid-19, and this is obviously going to be ongoing and interesting to follow.

Researchers from the U.K. evaluated the average vitamin D levels and the number of COVID-19 cases, as well as the death rates, across 20 European countries. Countries with low average vitamin D blood levels in the population had higher numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths, says study leader Petre Cristian Ilie, MD, PhD, research and innovation director at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation Trust in King’s Lynn, U.K.: Web MD

Vitamin D levels appear to play role in COVID-19 mortality rates: Patients with severe deficiency are twice as likely to experience major complications : Science Daily May 7th 2020

Researchers analyzed patient data from 10 countries. The team found a correlation between low vitamin D levels and hyperactive immune systems. Vitamin D strengthens innate immunity and prevents overactive immune responses. The finding could explain several mysteries, including why children are unlikely to die from COVID-19.

How Vitamin D works with our immune system.

Vitamin D is a bit like a health and safety consultant, constantly on the look out for areas that are unbalanced in the structure of our body and operating systems. I will look at the structure and bone density in other posts, but I want to share why the vitamin is being identified as playing a vital role in the strength of our immune system and in particular respiratory infections and auto-immune diseases such as arthritis. You can read more about the Immune System and how it works

Our white blood cells have receptors and activating enzymes for Vitamin D on their surface. It is a difficult role managing all the complexities involved in maintaining an efficient immune system without upsetting the balance… too much interference results in the immune system becoming overactive and attacking the cells of the body resulting in autoimmune diseases such as arthritis.. Too little interference is as bad, because dampening the immune system’s responses, leads to frequent infections.

Both these scenarios can occur if there is insufficient Vitamin D absorbed or ingested by the body, and whilst reduced levels of the vitamin do not cause an autoimmune disease, it can make matters worse.

Low levels of Vitamin D were identified in resulting in frequent colds and flu ten years ago, and with the pandemic, this line of research is going to be more closely monitored.

Supplementation Pharmacy News

In 2017, a large analyses of prospective clinical trials showed that taking vitamin D reduces the odds of developing a respiratory infection by approximately 42% in people with low baseline levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D; below 25 ng/mL.3

The analysis suggests that taking vitamin D daily or weekly was more effective than larger doses taken in single or monthly boluses. The most common daily dose used was vitamin D3 300-4,000 IU.

N.B. I take 3000 IU daily during the months October to May and have a break if I have sufficient sunshine during the warmer months.

How do we get sufficient Vitamin D?

Whilst we are designed to produce our own Vitamin D from the interaction of sunlight on our skin,  there two forms of the vitamin found in foods are D2 (ergocalciferol) is the one activated by sunlight in the plants that we eat and D3 (cholecalciferol) is found in animal foods. D3 is the one that is most commonly used in supplementation usually in combination with calcium as it is the most biologically usable and effective for humans.

The link to cholesterol

When sunlight hits the skin it reacts with the cholesterol in the cells.  Without cholesterol the production of Vitamin D would be impossible.

This does raise a question for me. I am very anti-statins unless it is essential as cholesterol is an essential element in many processes in the body. It would seem to me to be very short sighted to mass prescribe statins for over 50s, particularly in the Northern hemisphere, when that age group is likely to be deficient in Vitamin D.  You can read more about Cholesterol and its importance to the body: The Cholesterol Myth – Part One – and Statins the new research!

Plant source of Vitamin D2

It has been identified that Vitamin D2 that we source from plants is not absorbed as effectively by the body. This means that vegetarians and vegans need to make sure that they obtain sufficient sunshine and consider supplementation under the guidance of a qualified practitioner.

N.B. If you have a liver or kidney condition then you should not supplement without your doctor’s advice. When we take in Vitamin D from food or sunlight it firsts goes to the liver and gets converted to one form and then onto the kidney to be converted into another form before being active and usable. If you have a liver or kidney problem you will be unable to convert the vitamin and will need the already activated form on prescription from your doctor.

Vitamin D taken in excess can be toxic and you should not supplement regularly more than 1000 IU to 3000IU per day. The upper limit for safety has been set at 10,000 IU per day and if you are getting adequate sunlight provided vitamin D you should not need to supplement in summer months.

The recommended daily levels are confused as since 1997 when the original levels were set at between 200 and 600 IU more research has indicated our actual requirement to be higher. An IU represents 5 micrograms. Researchers now believe that we need a minimum intake of 1000 IU rising as we age to 3000 IU which is the dosage that I take October to May daily. And sometimes during our Irish summers!!

Most of what we require on a daily basis is produced in the skin by the action of sunlight and many of us who suffer from depression through the dark winter months are actually missing around 75% of our required daily dose, this represents over 2000IU of vitamin D for someone in their 70’s. Since sunshine for most of us in the Northern hemisphere is going to be in shorter supply over the next few months I will let you check out how to maximise your exposure to this power source by heading over to this post: Vitamin D Deficiency – Getting Sufficient – Sunshine and Food

Artificial Sunlight.

I do use a sun lamp in the winter if only to feel the warmth on my face and relax for 20 minutes. For some years now light boxes have been used by those suffering from SAD but you do need to take care when using as misuse can be a problem for people with eye conditions such as glaucoma. A good idea to have a word with your doctor if you have underlying health issues before using. Here is a list of the top 10 available on Amazon and a good idea to check out the reviews. Best Light Boxes

This is not a substitute for Vitamin D from sunshine as most light boxes do not stimulate the skin to produce Vitamin D unless they have a specific ultraviolet spectrum between a specific range. However, care needs to be taken  as there is a risk of skin cancer. Research is ongoing. Science Daily

Food sources of Vitamin D

Our ancestors mainly worked outside until the industrial revolution and activities such as farming, fishing and hunting meant that we were exposed to sunlight throughout the day depending on the latitude and altitude of our immediate vicinity.

Those not lucky enough to get adequate sunshine would have instinctively sought other sources of Vitamin D from food. In those days it was the intestines, livers, kidneys, skin and fat of the animals they caught as well as seafood, oily fish and insects. It is obvious from this list how many foods have disappeared from our plates in the last 100 years.

When was the last time that you ate liver, kidneys, the fat on your steak or the crispy skin on your chicken?

We certainly have been told not to eat most of these to preserve our health but ironically it means that we are also missing out on viable sources of Vitamin D.

This has limited the available food sources of the vitamins and some of them are rather inadequate anyway.

eggsAn egg contains approximately 124 IU with a 100g serving of herring or tinned salmon providing just over 400 IU. Dairy products such as milk contain the vitamin but an 8oz glass only contains 100 IU unless it has been fortified. You will find many more dairy products and also orange juice that is now fortified with Vitamin D. However, this does mean that packaged products such as cereals, come with other additives, including too much sugar.

  • Pork fat contains 2,800 IU per 100gms so start eating the crackling again
  • Herrings contain 680 IU,
  • Oysters contain 640 IU (would need a lot more than a dozen)
  • Sardines 500IU.
  • Mackeral 450 IU
  • Butter 56IU
  • Salmon contains 450 IU per 100gm
  • Tinned or fresh tuna 155 IU per 100gm are good sources of the vitamin and well worth including regularly in your diet.

Mushrooms that have been grown exposed to UV light have varying amounts of Vitamin D and you need to read the labels.. I buy some Irish ones that are slightly more expensive but have a reasonable level.

Cod liver oil

As children we were given spoonfuls of cod liver oil and thanks to that simple breakthrough in the early 1900’s we did not get rickets.

I do recommend that everyone take high quality supplement during the winter months, or if unable to be outside to take advantage of sunshine.. Apart from the Vitamin D you will also be supplying your body with an excellent source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids essential for a great many of our bodies functions. Cod liver oil also contains rich amounts of vitamin A and the whole package may help protect you against age related diseases.

Today if you cannot face a tablespoon of the oil, you can obtain high quality cod liver oil capsules. There are lots to choose from so I suggest you shop around to find the best quality you can.

As we get older our skin thins and we are less able to manufacture Vitamin D naturally, which is when supplementation is really quite important..

Added to the current restrictions during shielding restrictions, this has become even more of an issue.

It is a good idea to take not only cod liver oil but also an additional supplement of calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D. This is important for both men and women to maintain the correct Acid/alkaline balance and also to balance hormone levels during midlife when breast and prostate cancer is more of a risk.

Next time, another essential element needed to ensure our mental and emotional health during the winter months… Tryptophan

©Sally Cronin – Just Food for Health – 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two 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 my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

Your feedback is always welcome and if you do find that following any of the programmes that I have shared are beneficial then it would be great to hear about it.. you can email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com.

 

Smorgasbord Health Column – Cholesterol and Fat Myths Part Three, Vitamin K2 and Healthy Fats by Sally Cronin


Last week   I explained how cholesterol was essential for a number of functions in the body and that dropping levels too low could impact the balance of hormones and also brain function. I also shared the latest research on the effectiveness of Statins on cholesterol levels for a large percentage of patients who are prescribed it.

Today I wanted to focus on fats which also play a massive role in the balance of LDL – Low density lipoprotein (potentially unhealthy cholesterol) and HDL– High density lipoprotein (healthy cholesterol). It is a slightly longer post and I know from comments and emails that you are keen to get to the dietary changes that may encourage a healthy cholesterol balance.

First a look at some of the reasons behind why your cholesterol levels are out of balance.

  1. Obesity in itself is unhealthy but it usually comes with lack of exercise and high blood sugar levels.
  2. Exercise has been found to boost HDL levels in relation to LDL so if you are static you will see the reverse effect.
  3. High sugar levels damage the walls of the arteries.
  4. In combination with the sugar, the foods eaten to raise the amount in your bloodstream comes with unhealthy transfats in industrially produced foods.
  5. If you are a smoker it also causes the arteries to harden.
  6. Your liver is not functioning effectively and it’s LDL receptor cells are not managing the amount of cholesterol in your bloodstream. This can be down to a genetic predisposition but is more likely because of a poor diet, drinking too much alcohol or a natural effect of aging. You can find out more about the liver here
  7. A diet lacking in the nutrients and fibre needed to cleanse and rejuvenate your body.
  8. Certain medications can increase the levels of LDL in your cholesterol

A closer look at LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein)

Hopefully in my last post I established that Cholesterol is something to be cherished and maintained to ensure a healthy balance of hormones and other functions within the body, I will now focus on the LDL – low density lipoprotein, which is the cholesterol with smaller particles, and is the type that can cause the arteries to clog with plaque leading to cardiovascular disease.

Free radicals are formed when we ingest white fats (Trans fats) in processed foods and snacks, too much sugar in the diet (including sodas, light or otherwise) smoking and other bad habits. The LDL and the VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein) particles seem to like the bad boys and react with them making the particles unstable. They in turn react more aggressively with the surrounding tissues, including the lining of the arteries in the body called the endothelium.

This will affect the blood vessels with vital access to your brain and your heart, the carotid artery and the coronary artery, as well as those to your arms and legs.

Once that damage occurs in the endothelium, as with any tissue damage in your body, platelets and blood cells rush to the area, and it becomes a hot spot to catch anything that is moving through the blood stream that can adhere to the growing plaque mass. This includes the smaller particles of LDL that have been compromised by the free radicals. Obviously over a period of time this will grow to block the artery, then the blood flow and that is when heart attacks and strokes are likely.

So whilst cholesterol has a vital role in the body and the HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) is stable and with its larger particles not going to cause you a problem, you have to keep an eye on the unstable member of the family. The key to maintaining a healthy balance of cholesterol is to make sure that you keep the LDL lower than the HDL and that your diet does not encourage an excess of free radicals.

There are some conditions that will elevate cholesterol – apart from the hereditary factors, if someone is diabetic or has low thyroid function their levels can be quite high. This is when it makes sense to take the prescribed medication to maintain a lower overall level, but particularly the LDL.

A healthy balanced diet is still essential however, you cannot just take the pills and expect them to do all the work. However there are other prescribed medications that can also cause the levels to rise such as steroids and hormonal replacement and you should be aware of these possible side-effects and have regular cholesterol checks on your LDL levels.

Back to the diet and healthy fats

And whilst the headlines and medical profession maintain that eating healthy saturated fats is bad for your health and will automatically result in an unhealthy imbalance in your LDL and HDL, this is not the case.

In fact eaten in moderation, healthy fats contain vital nutrients the body needs and do not result in inflammation and diabetes.

One of the main reasons millions now have raised blood sugar levels that contribute to an imbalance in cholesterol levels is that they have been following the 50 year recommendation of governments around the world to eat a food pyramid that is focused on eating a much higher proportion of carbohydrates every day. Here is the old FDA food pyramid

Old FDA Food Pyramid | Food pyramid, Dry beans, Fda

All those carbohydrates.. particularly the white, nutritionally sterile breads, cakes, biscuits, cereals with added sugar and transfats, when eaten in large quantities raise blood sugar levels. Resulting not only in our obesity epidemic but the increasing number of Type II diabetics around the world. After 50 years of following this advice (and I was no exception until I was in my 40s) Obesity and diabetes is increasing each year along with heart disease.

CDC figures for Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes 2019

  • Total: 34.2 million people have diabetes (10.5% of the US population)
  • Diagnosed: 26.9 million people, including 26.8 million adults
  • Undiagnosed: 7.3 million people (21.4% are undiagnosed)

And Pre-diabetes

  • Total: 88 million people aged 18 years or older have prediabetes (34.5% of the adult US population)
  • 65 years or older: 24.2 million people aged 65 years or older have prediabetes

This is mirrored around the Western world and now tell me that the government advice we have been following for the last 50 years is working.

To reverse lifestyle diseases such as obesity, unhealthy cholesterol and diabetes we just need to make some fundamental changes to the food pyramid which is how I prefer to eat with a small amount of wholegrains each day.

Mediterranean Diet Food Pyramid Guidelines in 2020 ...

But back to fats…………………………..

We must not cut the good fats out of our diet – they have an essential role to play in our health and without fats and cholesterol our bodies will be open to infections, poor function in areas such as the brain, heart, reproductive system and our eyesight.

It can be tricky because the good fats are fairly easy to spot but the harmful fats tend to be hidden and disguised in the packaged and processed foods we buy. Responsible manufacturers have mainly moved away from using the highly toxic ‘trans fats’ but unfortunately the cheaper your processed family meal for four is, the more likely it is to have few natural ingredients that might be classified as nutritional.

No one person’s diet is the same and you have to find the perfect balance for you and this includes your fat intake – as long as it is not harmful fats………..

Briefly, a quick look at the fats you are likely to encounter in your daily diet.

One fat to avoid all together, is not naturally occurring at all, and that is manufactured Trans Fats. Liquid oil is hydrogenated to extend its shelf life, but in the process Trans fatty acids are formed – found in most industrially produced foods including margarines -snacks such as microwave popcorn, cakes, biscuits, cookies, pies etc.

The fats classified as healthy fats are Monounsaturated fats – which lower total cholesterol and at the same time lower LDL and increase HDL – this is contained in nuts, such as walnuts and olive oil.

Polyunsaturated fats also lower total cholesterol and LDL and those that have an important component; Omega-3 fatty acids.

Flaxseeds, salmon, tuna, mackeral and other oily fish, olive oil, walnuts, chicken, beef, avocado and even spinach.

These can not only reduce your LDL and support HDL but are also very helpful in reducing blood pressure and the risk of developing blood clots. Even with people who have already suffered a heart attack including Omega-3 fatty acids in their diet reduces their risk of a fatal attack.

salmon

I love fish and it is very easy to include oily fish at least twice a week, although I do avoid farmed salmon and opt for frozen wild salmon. Some of the best for Omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, halibut, mackerel, sardines and Albacore Tuna.

Oils and cooking.

Grilling food or steaming and then adding a drizzle of oil is healthier than frying

Use extra virgin olive oil for cooking (latest research indicates that this can be used at a higher temperature than first identified), and you can combine with some sunflower oil and a small amount of butter for a slightly different flavour. Recently coconut oil has come into focus as an oil to use in the kitchen and I have been using for over a year now and love the flavour it brings to salmon and other fish.

You should not burn any oil, but maintain a temperature that cooks your meat, chicken of fish evenly. I tend to brown the meat in the pan and then transfer to the oven or microwave to finish cooking

For salads, vegetables and on toast drizzle Extra Virgin Olive oil which has not been over processed – do not be tempted to use the light versions on offer as these have been industrialised. Just use the real stuff but a little less. You can now also buy Walnut oil and my favourite which is Avocado oil. Buy organic and whilst more expensive you do find a little goes a long way.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is produced by pressing the white meat from coconuts to produce what is a ‘saturated’ fat which is one that we are normally told to restrict in our diet. However it is claimed that the health benefits of coconut oil is down to its medium chain triglycerides compared to the longer chain forms in vegetable oils, dairy and meat fat.

The health benefits that are mentioned include raising HDL (healthy cholesterol levels) making it better for the heart, brain health, weight loss and thyroid health.

It is important to remember that it is still a fat, and whilst it is important to ingest a healthy balance of good fats, it should only be used in moderation. As with olive oil, a little goes a long way.

One of the most popular cholesterol myths… Eggs and your diet.

eggs

For many years the advice from nutritional experts is to remove eggs from your diet if you have high cholesterol.. Actually there is very little connection between the dietary cholesterol to be found in eggs and blood cholesterol.

If you are not eating a high proportion of processed foods containing high levels of Trans fats and sugars, eating an egg a day is actually going to be beneficial.

The liver produces much more cholesterol than you can consume from eggs or other animal products, however if the rest of your diet is full of industrially manufactured foods, then your LDL – Low density lipoprotein is going to be high, and that is the harmful form of cholesterol.

An egg has so much more than healthy fats going for it. The yolk is vitamin rich with A, D and E. Especially in the winter months when we are missing sunshine to work with our bodies to produce the essential vitamin D it is important to find another source and eggs are one of the few that are available. Eggs are also a great source of readily available and easy to prepare protein.

If you are in the process of losing weight then eating an egg, several times a week should be part of your healthy eating plan.

Cheese

Apart from chocolate… Cheese is probably one of my favourite foods. Unfortunately like chocolate it is something that once I start eating I find it difficult to stop. I did an experiment last summer when I was carrying 14lbs more than I wanted. I ate my normal diet for six weeks and just stopped eating my usual daily ration of cheese. I lost the 14lbs in four weeks.

I do eat an ounce three of four times a week, but I make sure that it is from grass fed dairy rather than corn fed. There is an important distinction. Only grass fed dairy or animal protein contains sufficient amounts of Vitamin K2.

The same applies to real butter – I eat the real thing but make sure it comes from grass fed dairy again. A scrape goes a long way and tastes so much better than margarine.

Research into Vitamin K2 is ongoing and is very exciting.

Dementia – including Alzheimers and neurological diseases including Parkinsons with the vitamin being identified as deficient in patients suffering from irregularities in brain chemistry.

Kidney disease Most patients with stage 5 chronic kidney disease (CKD) suffer from extensive vascular calcifications.4 Matrix Gla protein (MGP) is a powerful inhibitor of vascular calcification, and requires vitamin K2 to be fully activated

Cancer -In recent years, various reports have shown that vitamin K2 has anti-oncogenic effects in various cancer cell lines, including leukemia, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and hepatocellular cancer. Although the exact mechanisms by which vitamin K2 exert its antitumor effect are still unclear, processes, such as cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, appear to contribute to the therapeutic effects of vitamin K2.

To read the full report on the research: K2 research ongoing

Diabetes

If you suffer from diabetes the body is less able to maintain a balanced cholesterol level with an increase in LDL and VLDL (Very low density lipo protein) this leads to an increased risk of heart muscle damage and it is important that you have your levels monitored regularly.

Having said that, it is even more important that you stay away from processed foods, cook from scratch using healthy fats. It is also essential to stay away from high sugar content white carbohydrates instead using a moderate amount of wholegrains. Whilst monitoring by your doctor is available after diagnosis, there are millions of people in the world you are pre-diabetic and are not aware of it.

This is why it is important to take responsibility and visit a pharmacy who offers a panel of tests for Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar and Cholesterol at least once a year to have a clear measurement of these key health indicators. That puts you in the driving seat and enables you to take action as well as work with your doctor to get you back within healthy ranges.

Dietary and lifestyle changes to improve unhealthy cholesterol levels.

Though the first few days might be tough.. it is important that you cut back the refined sugar in your diet and the amount of industrially produced foods in packets, tins and jars you are consuming. This includes shop bought cakes, biscuits, white bread (buy wholegrain) white rice, white pasta, icecream, sweets, milk chocolate, processed cereals, and for six weeks alcohol.

Cook your foods fresh and from scratch using herbs and seasoning to flavour.

  1. Eat lots of vegetables and moderate fruits such as apples and blueberries daily
  2. Eat onions daily both raw and cooked and also some garlic as both may have a cholesterol lowering effect. I certainly eat an onion a day and believe they do help. ( Research)
  3. I have been drinking a large glass of coconut water (a brand that uses just coconut water without additives) the potassium it contains aids in management of Blood Pressure and also in lowering LDL and increasing HDL levels of Cholestoerol.  More clinical studies are being done into coconut water but here is an example. Beneficial effects of Coconut Water
  4. Eat a handful of wholegrains daily such as brown rice, porridge oats homemade bread (2 slices) each day. It is important not to give up carbohydrates completely as wholegrains provide fibre and B vitamins.
  5. Cook with healthy fats
  6. Use real butter and moderate amounts of cheese three times a week.
  7. Enjoy eggs, chicken, oily fish three times a week and other meat proteins twice a week.
  8. Enjoy a meat free day twice a week substituting with avocados and other omega 3 rich foods.
  9. Take a 30 minute walk every day.
  10. Eat a couple of squares of 70% dark chocolate every day.
  11. Drink green tea preferably, three cups a day and a cup of black coffee with a dash of milk is not going to break the process. In fact green tea has been the subject of a number of studies which show promising results in regard to lowering LDL cholesterol.. I drink three cups a day and consider it along with coconut water to be effective components in my daily diet in maintaining both BP and LDL.
  12. Keep hydrated with water.

Cholesterol Levels measurements.

You should fast before a cholesterol test for at least 12 hours, and I suggest that you skip the cheese the day before and have a plant based meal.. fats you have eaten do register in the test so having a Big Mac fully loaded is not going to be helpful!

Blood cholesterol is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, (mmol/L) UK – you will note that some articles on cholesterol levels will recommend that normal levels should be lower than the recommended levels for healthy or at risk adults.

However, this may encourage people to drive their total levels down too far and puts them at risk of other diseases that result from a deficiency of cholesterol.

It is important to have a picture of where you are with regard to measurements such as cholesterol. If you do need to reduce the levels of the more harmful form then you can agree a target with your doctor, get help from a nutritionist or a the very least do your research into the diet that can help you reduce your cholesterol healthily.

I cannot stress enough how important the role of cholesterol is for the health of our vital organs including the brain.  A sensible diet over 6 to 12 weeks is far better for your body than a crash diet where all fats have been removed completely.

5mmol/L for healthy adults
4mmol/L for those at high risk
5.6mmol/L to 6.2mmol/L considered borderline high
Above 6.2mmol/L needs to be lowered.

LDL/HDL levels

LDL does have a role in functions within the body and it is only when it is oxidised by free radicals resulting from unhealthy food choices that it becomes dangerous.

3mmol/L for healthy adults and 2mmol/L for those who have high risk factors for heart disease.
3.4-4.1 mmol/L borderline high
4.1-4.9 mmol/ high
Above 4.9 mmol/L very high.

Ideally the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) should be above 1.6 mmol/L.

I suggest that if you are making changes to your diet that you have your cholesterol checked prior to starting.. and then six weeks later. If there has been a significant improvement you can introduce some of your favourites back in again, in moderation such as a glass of red wine. But try to avoid industrial foods and stick to your cook from scratch approach.

To summarise

  • Do not take healthy natural fats out of your diet
  • Use unprocessed, natural ingredients in your cooking and avoid industrialised foods.
  • Use healthy fats and oils in moderation and instead of cooking with fats every day, eat avocados, eat walnuts and oily fish.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables including those high in fibre.
  • Enjoy seasonal fruits,
  • Eat wholegrains for their fibre and B Vitamins,
  • Enjoy an egg at least three times a week.
  • If you are going to eat cheese or other high fat dairy products, opt for grass fed dairy to obtain the Vitamin K2 from these sources.

I recently ran a series that might help you get started on becoming healthier:Project 101 – Resilience – An opportunity to get fighting fit – Round Up

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two 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 my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

Your feedback is always welcome and if you do find that following any of the posts that I have shared are beneficial then it would be great to hear about it. If you have any questions you can email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com.

Smorgasbord Health Column – The Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Herbal Medicine – A little health insurance with Echinacea


What is Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicine has been part of our ancient and more modern history for thousands of years. Unfortunately there is no money to be made by the pharmaceutical companies when only a plant is processed. Therefore in the last twenty years particularly there has been a focused effort, at a very high level, to downgrade all alternative therapies including herbal remedies to quackery.  We can only now suggest that an alternative therapy MAY help you.

A commonsense warning about herbal medicines.

Herbal medicines should be treated with respect and should only be used if you have read all the contraindications, possible side effects and never with any prescribed medication unless you have cleared with your doctor first.

This is particularly important if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant as taking specific herbal medicines can cause harm.

Go to a qualified herbalist or if you buy over the counter on online read all the instructions beforehand or enclosed in the packet. I always buy the more expensive and professionally prepared tinctures and have stayed with that brand for the last twenty years.

Having established that; I want to introduce you to herbs that can be taken as a prepared tincture but also those that you can include in your diet which may improve and maintain your health. This week I am sharing the benefits of Echinacea, a herb that may boost your immune system.

This year has already been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and the fear is that as we approach this year’s flu season, we might tip over into another wave. That remains to be seen as there are fundamental differences between the two. However, it does pay to be careful and I will certainly continue to use a mask for shopping through the winter months and take the precautions that are now in place for social distancing.

Normally at this time of year I have a few drops of the good stuff every day.. and no I am not referring to the medicinal brandy in the sideboard in the dining-room. I am talking about Echinacea in the form of a tincture. From October I have 15 drops in a little water daily and touch wood…..I had not had a cold for many years or the flu until just before Christmas 2019 after a routine visit to Wexford hospital where we both sat in a small waiting room with a lady coughing and spluttering. We went out and stood in the hall for two hours, but three days later on Christmas Eve we both went down with a very heavy dose of flu that lingered for weeks. I lost my sense of taste and smell and it was only when that appeared on the probable symptoms list that we wondered if we had in fact had Covid.

Thankfully I had already done our Christmas shopping.. not that we ate much and did not go out until the first week in January when we were on the mend. We did not see anyone over the festive season even neighbours as we did not feel like socialising. Just as well. However, we later found out that other family members had the same flu around the same time. We believe it was around a lot earlier than first identified.

If it was indeed Covid 19 then we managed to shake it off although my sense of taste only came back a few months later. We invest quite a bit of time in keeping our immune systems robust and are grateful that we did not develop the more dangerous respiratory complications. But it is not something I wish to repeat.

Recently I ran a series designed to boost the resilience to any opportunistic pathogen and you can find details here: Smorgasbord Health Column – Project 101 – Resilience – An opportunity to get fighting fit – Round Up –

Unfortunately, if you have not been following a varied and healthy diet and providing your body with the nutrients it needs to maintain a healthy immune system, taking 15 drops of echinacea is not going to be much help.

Echinacea is a herb that is very widely used to boost the immune system and help to alleviate the symptoms of colds and flu, naturally.

The Latin name for this herb is Echinacea Purpurea (Purple coneflower). It is considered to be the primary herbal remedy for the immune system and was first used in a healing capacity by the Native American Indians. They used it primarily for boils, abscesses and snakebites. They also chewed the roots for toothaches, colds, sore throats and coughs. The herb itself actually has no direct effect on bacteria or viruses but instead it is its effect on our own immune system that aids treatment of an infection.

Other possible therapeutic benefits need further investigation but Echinacea may be helpful for yeast infections.. anxiety, migraines, bladder infections and eye infections. However, most of these are the result of an impaired immune system, which is where the benefit of the herb may lie.

Buying Echinacea.

The herbal tincture that you will see in health food shops and pharmacies is made from the roots, flowers and seeds of the plant. You can now buy capsules but I still prefer to use the tincture as I feel it is easier for the body to absorb and faster acting.

When choosing an herbal tincture it is important to buy a high quality product that is holistically standardised. This means that the chemical constituents of the plant are not tampered with in any way and the end product includes the whole spectrum of healing benefits. It is believed that the active ingredients in a plant work together to provide the overall effect. Some processing practices remove or reduce some of the elements of the plant making them less effective. Do make a point to check your labels, or the details of the product, before you buy.

One of the other things that I have to mention is that we are not allowed to claim that any diet, remedy or therapeutic therapy can cure you of anything. Please consider that said.

Echinacea acts as an immune stimulant that mobilises our defence system by activating and stimulating the release of white blood cells (leukocytes) which fight infection. The function of our T-cells is enhanced and there is an increase in the number of macrophages, the cells that consume and destroy foreign bodies such as bacteria.

One of the plant’s components is Echinacin, which promotes the growth of new tissue, activating fibroblasts, which are the cells that are responsible for encouraging wound healing.

Echinacea can be taken when an infection begins and it can reduce the symptoms and speed recovery by enhancing the immune system’s own abilities. It can also be taken over a longer period to increase the body’s resistance to infection.

  • I usually recommend that a person start taking 15 drops once a day in the middle of October through to the middle of March if they are prone to colds.
  • Children can take 7 drops of the herb for the same time span if they are under 12 years old.
  • If you start a cold or the flu you can take 15 drops, two or three times a day in a little water and children can take 7 drops two or three times a day.
  • It is recommended that you do not stay at this dosage for longer than a couple of months but the usual time is the duration of the infection plus a week, then reduce down to the long term daily dose.

You will find that there are a number of products available that contain Echinacea and two of the most effective, in my book, are the toothpaste which helps prevent bacterial build-up in the form of plaque and skin cream which works well on dry and infected skin.

You can buy Echinacea tea in health food shops and with the addition of a slice of fresh lemon and a teaspoon of honey this can be very soothing in the early stages of a cold and also may help you reduce the symptoms.

Echinacea can also be used for pets but there are specific guidelines that need to be followed.

Contraindications for the use of Echinacea.

  1. If you notice a reaction such as flushing in your face or a rash
  2. You suffer with an autoimmune disease such as arthritis or psoriasis
  3. Check with a qualified herbalists if you have exhibited allergies to certain plants such as ragweed, marigolds or daisies)
  4. Check with a herbalist if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  5. Do not give to children under the age of 12.

The rule is that if you are taking any over the counter or prescribed medication you must always check for interactions before taking herbal medicine. Just because it is labelled as alternative you have to remember that it is a medicine that has an effect on your body.

©Sally Cronin – Just Food for Health – 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two 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 my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

Your feedback is always welcome and if you do find that following any of the posts that I have shared are beneficial then it would be great to hear about it and if you have any questions you can email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – 26th July – August 1st 2020 – Positive news, #Author Spotlight, Music, Short stories, Guest Bloggers, Health, Humour and Book Reviews


Welcome to the round up of posts you might have missed this week on Smorgasbord.

Another week has flown by, and like many of you, I have avoided reading the headlines and news stories on a daily basis. I am usually an upbeat positive person when it comes to life in general, but even I have to ration my exposure to the constant stream of negativity.

Thankfully our community of writers do share the positive aspects of life, and here are three posts I would like to draw your attention to if you missed.

Each month D.G. Kaye, Debby Gies participates in the #WATWB – We are the World Blogfest spreading positive news about people and events. This month an inspiring woman in the UK has been collecting an item usually scrunched up and thrown away. Her project is Keeping the Homeless a Little Warmer: D.G. Kaye WATWB – We are the World Blogfest – Keeping the Homeless a Little Warmer

Carol Taylor shares amazing recycling projects including this week The bad and the good in the story of plastic.. and on Tuesdays she has been sharing some of the positive outcomes of our recent isolation. In this post you can enjoy the wisdom of a wonderful man called Sadhguru, and a video of abandoned places being reclaimed by nature. Sobering thought and Nature’s resilience

Retired teacher and author, Pete Springer shares the inspiring story of a former pupil of his, Samy Awwad, who at the age of only 16 has already created an incredible reputation as a champion for millions of children around the world whose lives can be saved by vaccinations. A wonderful post that I recommend you head over to read: An Impressive Young Man

Before I share the posts from the week… here is the promotion for the new Author Spotlight beginning in September.. along with my story of a life changing moment in my life that set me on a different path after just one date!  I have already received some amazing stories and I am looking forward to sharing this new series.

A new series for authors in the Cafe and Bookstore and I share my Life Changing Moment.

In this new series I am inviting authors in the Cafe to share what they consider to be a defining moment in their lives that resulted in a major positive change.

Here are a few examples, and I am sure you will have plenty to add:

  • Meeting a stranger with surprising consequences
  • Accepting an invitation that took you out of your comfort zone
  • Being fired from a job or resigning without another job lined up that turned out to be an opportunity.
  • Taking a wrong turn on a journey and discovering something about yourself.
  • Being in the wrong place at the right time when an opportunity presented itself.
  • Overcoming a challenging situation such as a failed relationship and finding happiness.
  • Taking part in a charity challenge such as a parachute jump and how it conquered a fear.
  • Accidentally walking through the wrong door and finding an uplifting experience
  • Moving to a new country and feeling immediately at home.

You can choose to stick to the facts or can write a fiction story that has ‘A Life Changing Moment’ as its theme.

If you follow the link beneath the image you can read my story and the post is an example of how your own will look.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Spotlight – Life Changing Moments

As always my thanks to guests and contributors who make blogging such a pleasure and to you for dropping in, commenting and sharing…here are the posts from the week.

Summer Music Festival with hosts William Price King and Sally Cronin – Headliners Madonna, Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman

A tribute I wrote for my mother Mollie (October 5th 1917 – July 28th 2012) and her gardens

#Spain – Tales from The Garden – Mollie (The Duchess) Coleman

#Memoir #Waterford #Ireland #History – The Colour of Life – Whiskey And Its Disciples – 1949 by Geoff Cronin

Some images of my feathered friends at the lake where bass were a popular attraction for local fishermen.

#Spain – Fish hide in branches

Double #Etheree The Wisdom of Trees by Sally Cronin

Two more book reviews from the past.

Book Reviews – #Memoir D.G. Kaye, #Children’s Robbie and Michael Cheadle

July 1985 – Hanna Barbara Land, BBQ and Lilo races

A round up of all the posts and pages in the series.

Project 101 – Resilience – An opportunity to get fighting fit – Round Up

The Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Herbal Medicine – Lavender

#Finance – Investing in the Age of Coronavirus by Sharon Marchisello

– #School Closures – Lost? by Stevie Turner in Having a Rant

#Fear – The predator within by Sue Vincent

Fighting photo phobia by Mary Smith

#Writing – Why to avoid “ing” words in fiction by D. Wallace Peach

A new Cafe and Bookstore for children’s books up to the age of 12 years old.. already 21 authors but plenty of room for more..

Smorgasbord Children’s Cafe and Bookstore – FREE Book Marketing

Fantasy Adele Marie Park, #Fantasy Freya Pickard, #Paranormal Cecilia Kennedy

#Dark Humour Carol La Hines, #History Joyce Hampton, #Fantasy Paul Andruss

The Gilded Beaver by Margaret

#Reviews – #Fantasy Lorinda J. Taylor, #Contemporary M.C.V. Egan, #ScienceFiction A.C. Flory

#Paranormal Roberta Eaton Cheadle, #HistoricalRomance Christine Campbell, #Prose/Poetry Colleen M. Chesebro

#Thriller John L. DeBoer, #Scifi Richard Dee, #History Paul Edmondson

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 28th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 30th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

July 31st 2020- Another Open Mic Night with author Daniel Kemp

Thank you for your support during the week and look forward to seeing you again soon. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Project 101 – Resilience – An opportunity to get fighting fit – Round Up – Sally Cronin


I began this series 10 weeks ago with the aim of offering some strategies to increasing our resilience to disease. Not just Covid-19 but any opportunistic pathogen who feels we might make a good host.

Since then the world has struggled to return to normal, with varying success and a great deal of uncertainty. However, it is becoming clear that the experts can not find a consensus on what will happen next, whether the virus will fizzle out, or come back as a second wave or an annual event.

The fact that the supermarkets have erected permanent perspex barriers for cashiers and service industries such as hairdressing have done the same, seems to indicate that we will need to take precautions to stay infection free for some considerable time to come.

I believe that we need to take responsibility for our own health where possible, and since the majority of modern disease is lifestyle related offers plenty of scope!

What has not changed is our role in what comes next.

Our bodies may have genetic tendencies towards some specific diseases. But the vast majority of health issues are lifestyle related and involve our own decisions about what we eat and drink, how much exercise we take, and what harmful contaminants we ingest or inhale.

I am not guiltless as far as this is concerned and I was 42 years old before I starting taking back control of my body and its health. Twenty-five years on I hope that the changes I made to my diet and lifestyle at that point was enough. At 330lbs with high Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar levels, and high levels of the most unhealthy Low Density Cholesterol, I was told I would be lucky to reach 45 years old.

And if that had been today, it would have put me smack bang in the middle of the most vulnerable to the infection.

As more and more analysis is done on the pandemic and those that were infected and tragically died; risk factors have been more clearly defined. Obesity is very high up on that list.

With any respiratory infection being severely overweight is a risk. When I weighed 330lbs 25 years ago, I could not lie on my back because the weight of the fat on my chest and stomach restricted the movement of my lungs. Just walking made me extremely out of breath, and I was not getting sufficient oxygen into my system.

Other risk factors.

This leads directly into the identified key risk factors for all ages during the pandemic which include obesity, underlying health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, respiratory diseases such as COPD and heart conditions. Being deficient in Vitamin D for example has also been included in this list although there has been some doubt raised recently. However, Vitamin D is a very important element of our general health and that of our immune system, and as such it plays a vital role in limiting our susceptibility to infections.

The most at risk members of our society are those over 65 years old, not just because they are more likely to have underlying health issues, but because the human body as it ages goes through some fundamental changes in structure and function.

For example, we are more likely to become less active and our lungs, which are the organs most impacted by a respiratory virus, stiffen and do not have the flexibility to work effectively enough to get rid of the infection.

There is also a likelihood of a suppressed immune system and that can be the result of a deficiency of essential nutrients. This happens when a person begins to eat less due to lack of activity and appetite, but also due to a less efficient digestive system.

More older people have dental issues and opt for foods that are easier to eat and are missing components such as fibre.

Stomach acid may be less and therefore food is not in the right format when it passes into the intestines to have nutrients extracted and passed into the bloodstream.

There is also a severe risk of Vitamin D deficiency in older members of our society who are less active and particularly those who are in care homes who have restricted access to the outside. This risk however, is not limited to the older generation as scientists have identified a high percentage of Covid – 19 patients are deficient in the vitamin.

The majority of men and women over 65 are also on a cocktail of prescribed medication that have side effects such as blood pressure pills, other heart medications and Statins for cholesterol. And whilst you should not stop taking any drugs that have been prescribed for you by your doctor, there is an opportunity that working with them, you could reduce your need for them over time.

One of the key issues facing us as we get older is inflammation within the body and is a result of our own immune system going into overdrive resulting in arthritis, myocarditis – inflammation in the heart resulting in breathing problems, inflammation in the small vessels in the lungs, water retention and in the kidneys resulting in high blood pressure. Inflammation in  the brain is also a cause of memory loss and dementia.

Issues that I covered in Project 101 – Resilience.

The posts encouraged small changes over a period of time to improve both function and resilience of the body so that should you catch a virus, including Covid-19 you are better equipped to fight off the infection.

To back up the posts I created pages of the relevant series such as weight loss that you can read in full should you wish to find out more. This includes the entire Size Matters the Sequel series of 17 Chapters that I have put into one page that you can bookmark and read at your leisure. I also created other pages that I hope will make them easier to access for reference.

Among the topics I covered:

  • Weight loss and some hacks that helped me lose over 150lbs
  • Inflammation in the body and brain one of the leading causes of disease
  • Lung function improvement and how to breathe.
  • Immune system boosting
  • Vitamin D and its vital role in keeping our bodies safe.
  • Exercise – keeping moving and the body functioning.
  • Flexibility – not just in body but in mind.
  • Blood Pressure – we need it to pump blood around our bodies, but too high and it can be dangerous.
  • Type II Diabetes and Pre-diabetes – risk factors that are simple to reverse
  • The Brain – The control centre of the body and it needs to be treated with respect.
  • Stress and its impact on weight and major organs such as the heart.
  • Acidity and Alkalinity in the body and how are creating the perfect environment for pathogens.
  • Candida Albicans

The hopeful outcome of the series.

I cannot promise that if you lose weight, improve your blood pressure, reduce your risk of diabetes, address inflammation in your body and great a better acidity/alkaline balance in your body that you won’t catch Covid-19… but I do hope it might give you a fighting chance in avoiding serious complications.

If you missed the posts and the pages here is a list that you can dip into at your leisure. I will be putting them together at some point as a book but I hope you will find useful in the meantime.

The Posts.

  1. The start of the project, my story and weight loss part one.
  2. Improving lung function, Weight loss hack – The Power of One
  3. Weight Loss Hack No 2 – Improving lung function No 2,
  4. Chronic Inflammation and the Immune System
  5. Sleep Part One – Weight Loss, Heart function and Immune System
  6. #Sleep Strategies and Music Therapy
  7. Flexibility – An Apple a Day
  8. How much do you get for your 1500 calories
  9. Acidity/Alkalinity pH Balance for Health Part One
  10. Acidity/Alkalinity pH Balance for Health Part Two
  11. Acidity/Alkalinity pH Balance for Health Part Three
  12. Vitamin D Deficiency Part One
  13. Vitamin D Deficiency Part Two – Getting Sufficient
  14. The importance of a healthy gut (part one)
  15. The importance of a healthy gut (part two) #Candida
  16. The importance of a healthy gut (part three) #Candida

The Pages

Thanks for all the support during the series and I hope that you have found useful. As always your feedback is much appreciated.

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two 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 my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

 

 

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – 19th -26th July -Josh Groban, Naan Bread, Fairy Tales, Waterford, Poetry, Reviews and Funnies


Welcome to the round up of posts that you might have missed this week on the blog.

Like most of you focus on being creative has been a little hit and miss during the last few months, and I am thankful for the blog to keep me busy and in contact with you all. I have been working on my next book in my head and finally have got my thoughts together and have picked up where I left off in March. Hopefully you will see something coherent in the autumn! It is another collection of syllabic poetry and a collection of 24 + short stories based on two central themes… I plan to really get the writing finished in August (unless summer decides to return and I spend too much time in the garden!)

It is our 40th anniversary in November and we cancelled our planned trip with my two sisters in September to Malta.. old stomping grounds for both of them who were 16 and 17 when we lived there and it was going to be a step back in time for us all. November is the start of the usual flu season and I have an inkling that the 14 day quarantines for visitors is likely to be in place again. So are planned trip to the UK to see my sisters is also at risk. It will make it two years since we have had a family get together but it is better to be safe than sorry.

This now has presented us with an opportunity to get creative with our own celebrations as the occasion deserves to be marked in style…as long as the two of us are there…it will be special.

Just a reminder of the opportunities to promote your books…

  1. If you have a new book due out in August then please let me know when available for pre-order or released so I can do a new book on the shelves promotion.
  2. If you are not already in the Cafe and Bookstore you can find out how to join the other 150 authors: Free book marketing in the Cafe and Bookstore.
  3. The new series of Posts from Your Archives open to all bloggers where I pop in to your blog and select two posts to share along with your books and links: #NewSeries August 2020- Pot Luck and Do You Trust Me??
  4. If you are a children’s author you will find a new feature from Monday where your books will not only be on the shelves of the main Cafe and Bookstore but any books for ages up to 12 years old, will also be in the new Children’s Cafe and Bookstore.. A post is going out on Monday that gives the details to existing authors in the Cafe and to new ones.
  5. The new author spotlight series for September has a theme that I hope you will find interesting – Life Changing Moments.. and the promotional post is on July 30th.

As always I am very grateful to the contributors who share their expertise and creativity each week and also to you for all the support that you offer…you have no idea how that has helped me stay positive during the last few months. 💐 😍

Here are this week’s posts…..

The Music Column with William Price King – Josh Groban Part Three

‘N’ is for Nicoise, Nori, Nuts, Noodles, Nettles and Naan Bread.

#Spain – Tales from The Garden -Chapter Eleven – The Last Summer Ball and the Winter Fairy – Part Two

The Colour of Life -Cattle Dealing and The Ferguson Tractor 1948 by Geoff Cronin

#Courtown, Wexford – Sea Birds Seek Shelter and Photos

July 4th 1985 Celebrations, Mechanical Bulls and Tennis

Welcome to a new series where I will be sharing book reviews I have posted in the last few years. I would like to take the opportunity to showcase books that I have enjoyed and their authors and if you have not read the books, I hope it will encourage you to check them out.

#Afghanistan Mary Smith, #Historical Andrew Joyce

Chesebro’s weekly Tanka Challenge -#Butterfly Cinquain – Washed Up

The importance of a healthy gut (part three) #Candida by Sally Cronin

Herbal Medicine – Peppermint – fresh breath, digestion and anti-bacterial

#History – The Story of the Huguenots: A Unique Legacy by Joyce Hampton

The Places We Haunt: Short Story Collection by Cecilia Kennedy

#Mystery – Walking Into Trouble by Geoff Le Pard

#Pre-Order -Children’s – A Beechworth Bakery Bears e-Book (The Beechworth Bakery Bears 1) by Frank Prem

#Mystery Noelle Granger, ##DystopianSciFi Terry Tyler, #Mystery Anne R. Allen

#Poetry Miriam Hurdle, #FamilySaga Judith Barrow, #Fantasy, #Paranormal C.S. Boyack

#Childrens Victoria Zigler, #Fantasy D.Wallace Peach, #Fantasy Fiona Tarr, #Contemporary M.C.V. Egan

#Prehistoric Jacqui Murray, #Children’s Toni Pike, #Humour J. E. Pinto

#Memoir Joy Lennick, #WWII Paulette Mahurin, #Mystery J.A. Newman

#Thriller Richard W. Wise, #Fantasy Sue Vincent and Stuart France, #Lemons Valentina Cirasola

#Writing Jane Sturgeon, #Poetry Leon Stevens, #Coming of age Bette A. Stevens

Hugh W. Roberts

#Shortstories Hugh W. Roberts, #Thriller Gwen M. Plano, #FamilyDrama Margaret Lindsay Holton

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 21st 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 23rd 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Possible Book Titles and some Grammar funnies Host Sally Cronin

Thank you again for dropping in today and for all your support.. it is much appreciated..

Smorgasbord Health Column – Project 101 – Resilience – The importance of a healthy gut (part three) #Candida by Sally Cronin


Project 101 – Resilience is aimed at developing a strong  immune system and a body that can fight off disease at any age. One of the key factors in achieving that level of robust health is being a healthy weight. There have been a number of risk factors identified that put certain groups of the population at a higher risk of a critical outcome from being infected with the virus or being unable to manage the severity of the resulting infection.

One of the cornerstones of our health is based in the lower half of our body in the intestines. Our gut health determines the efficiency of many of our operating systems, including our immune system. Although I have posted on Candida Albicans and the Digestive system in the past, I would like to being the two together to emphasize how important eating fresh food ‘cooked from scratch’ is to our health and resilience to not just Covid-19 but other diseases too. You can find Part Two of a Healthy Gut Here

Candida Albicans – Controlling the fungus without starving your body.

Over the years clients have arrived at their first appointment, tired, depressed, still suffering from skin problems, infections etc, who have been following the most rigid diet possible to eradicate the overgrowth of candida. They were surviving on a narrow range of foods, with greatly reduced nutritional variety and values, and were terrified of putting certain foods in their mouths.

The problem is balance – starving the fungus is essential. But, in the process you can also starve the body of the nutrients it requires to rebuild the immune system which you need to work on your behalf internally. The overgrowth is not restricted to the intestines, as I described in an earlier post – the symptoms are caused because it has got into the bloodstream and has free access to the entire body. You are going to need the immune system’s power to push back the fungus to the gut where it belongs at normal levels.

I do think that it is a good idea to reduce the levels of your yeast in the diet simply because it comes in combination in so many processed foods with sugar which I consider to be the real cause behind so much of our ill health today.

Things have moved on – the fact is that most natural produce is absolutely fine to eat. This includes mushrooms which as a fungus are usually one of the first foods to be banned on a Candida Diet.

In the last 20 years I have experimented with natural ingredients in and out of my diet and I have found no reaction to mushrooms or any other natural food on my Candida levels. I have however, reacted quickly to drinking too much alcohol, eating cakes, sweets, biscuits, fizzy drinks, processed sauces, ketchup, soy sauce, milk chocolate with low cocoa content, processed cheap fruit juices etc. In the case of alcohol it is possibly the combination of yeast and sugar (or too many glasses) – and if you look at the ingredients of a great many processed foods that I included in last week’s post, it is the sugar content that is likely to be the main culprit.

I have some key indicators for a rise in levels of Candida overgrowth in my system. The inside of my ears begins to itch irritatingly and my eyes start watering. If I continue to consume sugars in excess I can develop thrush symptoms.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms might be a fungus but they are also immune boosting foods and some are actively anti-candida. Mushrooms are on my Food Pharmacy list and I eat at least two or three times a week. Especially on a non-meat day as they have an impressive list of nutrients that make them a great alternative.

According to the ancient Egyptians, over 4,000 years ago, eating mushrooms granted you immortality. The pharaohs even went as far as to ban commoners from eating these delicious fungi but it was probably more to guarantee that they received an ample supply. Mushrooms have played a large role in the diet of many cultures and there is evidence that 3,000 years ago certain varieties of mushrooms were used in Chinese medicine and they still play a huge role in Chinese cuisine today.

There are an estimated 20,000 varieties of mushrooms growing around the modern world, with around 2,000 being edible. Of these, over 250 types of mushroom have been recognised as being medically active or therapeutic.

More and more research is indicating that certain varieties, such as Shitake and Maitake, have the overwhelming potential to cure cancer and AIDS and in Japan some of the extracts from mushrooms are already being used in mainstream medicine.

Apart from their medicinal properties, mushrooms are first and foremost an excellent food source. They are low in calories, high in B vitamins, Vitamin C, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and zinc – and supply us with protein and fibre. They are versatile and they are easy to cook and blend with other ingredients on a daily basis. For vegetarians they provide not only protein but also the daily recommended amount of B12 a vitamin often lacking in a non-meat diet.

Mushrooms of all varieties will boost your immune system in the fight against Candida and are more beneficial in your diet than out of it.

Matured Cheese

Aged cheese is usually banned from a yeast free and sugar free diet but I have found no major problems when using as part of a balanced diet. It is unlikely that by the time the cheese has digested and reached the gut that it is in a form that is utilised by the fungus.

Cheese on toast or cauliflower cheese once or twice a week should not cause you a problem and provides variety and nutrients to feed your body.

I do caution you however if you are trying to lose weight.. A little cheese from time to time is okay but how many of us actually have that kind of restraint? Also if you suffer from gallbladder disease you will have to monitor your fat intake carefully and you will find that cutting right back on cheese to a very occasional use to be the best option.

I suggest organic mature cheddar made from grass fed cows (it should say on the packet) as it is only grass fed dairy cows that provide milk in vitamin K2 which is not found in grain fed cattle, sheep, chickens in any great quantity.

The one staple that most of us find the hardest to give up. Our daily bread.

Industrially manufactured bread, particularly the cheap, plastic wrapped, white flour variety with its abundance of additives including sugars, is perfect fodder for Candida.

I enjoy and include some white breads in my diet…occasionally. I enjoy some of the sourdough breads, but as a rule, I will only buy wholegrain artisan breads with minimal preservatives. You know that they have little added to them when they go stale in 24 hours, instead of still feeling fresh after a week or longer!… I buy, slice and freeze and then take out what I need over time.

I usually make my own yeast and sugar free Irish Soda bread as it suits me and does not cause the same symptoms as the white processed breads. The jury is out as to whether yeast in bread contributes to an overgrowth of candida, but certainly the sugar does.

Luckily I was introduced to Irish Soda bread in the late 90’s which is yeast free and has little sugar. Today there is a wide range of yeast and sugar free breads available in health food shops and online (do check the labels carefully for added sugar and other preservatives), but it is much better and easy to your own bread at home.

Recipes can be adapted to include additional nutritional essentials in the form of seeds and nuts. I make a couple of loaves at a time, and when cooled, slice and freeze – cost about £1 a loaf to make. There are also unleavened breads – corn and wholegrain tortillas etc that you can enjoy too.

Apart from being able to feel that you are at least including normal foods – bread does not stand alone – we put things on it – an egg cooked in a variety of ways is a great supper on toast and is good for you. Sandwiches made with your own bread for lunch with fresh salad filling and cooked chicken or tinned tuna etc are far better than buying already prepared and expensive varieties with unknown ingredient.

Here is my recipe for soda bread with reduced sugar and even those who are not avoiding yeast will find it delicious.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees – put the rack mid oven. Prepare two 14 inch bread tins – I use grease proof paper cut to size and a little olive oil around the tin so that the paper sticks.

Ingredients – for two loaves.

• 600gm strong whole wheat plain flour (or 500gm flour and 100gm porridge oats – or 500 gm flour and 100gm dried fruit)
• Four teaspoons of baking powder
• Two teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
• Two teaspoons of salt
• Two teaspoons of sugar
• Two eggs
• 600ml milk (I use full fat)
• Juice of two lemons (to sour the milk)

Method

1. Add the lemon juice to the milk and stir – leave for about 15 minutes until it thickens.
2. Sift the flour into a large bowl (add porridge oats or fruit if using)
3. add in the bicarbonate, baking powder, sugar and saltmix in gently.
4. Pour in the soured milk and using a fork gently stir together.
5. Add in two eggs and mix in.
6. Pour the mixture into the tins and place in the hot oven for approximately 60 minutes.
7. Check after 45 and the loaves should have risen and be brown on top.
8. When baked take the loaves out of the oven and remove from tins. (peel of the paper if you have used)
9. You will know they are cooked if they sound hollow when you tap them on the bottom of the loaf.
10. Wrap in clean tea towels to stop the crust getting too crisp and leave on a rack until cool.
11. I wrap one in clingfilm and put in freezer and because there are no preservatives you need to eat over a couple of days. I keep one in the fridge

This is just one adjustment to your daily diet that will feed your body but starve the fungus.
So, now you have bread still in your diet (yeast and sugar free such as Irish Soda Bread) and also mushrooms and cheese.

And here is the complete shopping list of food groups that you may help you reduce the sugar in your diet.

Since Candida Albicans thrives on the sweet stuff, it is a good idea to cut out all additional sugars and sugary foods for at least six weeks. And then only consume occasionally. Do be aware that artificial sweeteners, including those that claim to be natural can behave in the same way as sugars.

Your craving for sugars will not be reduced and some, such as those containing aspartame, can be very unhealthy.

To help you establish which are the main foods to focus on and which to avoid, I have devised a colour scheme.

Green – Free to eat
Blue – in moderation
Red – Avoid
Pink – Very occasionally.

Vegetables – carrots, red peppers, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, corn on the cob- any dark cabbage or Brussel sprouts, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, watercress, dark lettuce leaves, cucumbers, celery, avocados and potatoes. Fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut are very beneficial for the gut.

Fruit – Bananas, apples, pears, oranges, kiwi and any dark berries that are reasonably priced – try frozen. When in season – apricots, cantaloupe melon, watermelon.

Wholegrains – brown rice- wholegrain yeast free bread – whole wheat pasta – weetabix – shredded wheat – porridge oats. If you make your own yeast free bread use wholegrain flour.

Please do not buy sugar or chocolate covered cereals or white flour products.– more sugar than goodness.

Reduce your carbohydrates for the first six weeks. Two slices of yeast free bread, one large tablespoon of brown rice, one Weetabix, two tablespoons of porridge oats etc daily.

Fish Salmon fresh and deep sea not farmed (usually sound in the frozen foods)and you can buy sustainable sourced salmon canned. Cod – haddock (again frozen can be a good option) any deep sea white fish on offer – shellfish once a week such as mussels. Tinned sardines, tuna and herrings – great for lighter meals. Check all cans for source of fish and worth paying a little more.

Meat and poultry and Tofu- Organic or free range chicken or turkey – lamb, beef and pork (avoid grain fed chickens (corn) and other meats as only grass fed livestock provide sufficient amounts of Vitamin K2. Lean ham (unsalted) easy to boil your own and slice for sandwiches, (processed meats should be used sparingly) Venison if you enjoy it. Liver provides a wonderful array of nutrients served with onions and vegetables is delicious. Tofu for vegetarians has become more accessible and can be used by non vegetarians once a week to provide the other benefits of soya it offers. There are a number of vegetables, especially in the bean family that can provide good amounts of protein.

Nuts and seeds – to put on your cereal in the mornings or as snacks – check prices out in your health food shop as well as supermarket. Almonds, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts. (Nuts and seeds have healthy fat. However, if you are wanting to lose some weight make it a small handful each day).

Dairy and Eggs– In moderation. Look for grass fed herds for their milk, butter and cheese (better to have the real stuff than whipped margarine) – yoghurt. Free Range Eggs – have at least three or four a week.

Oils – Extra virgin Olive Oil (least processed) – great drizzled on vegetables with some seasoning and also eaten the Spanish way with balsamic vinegar on salads and also drizzled over toasted fresh bread. If you do not like the taste of Olive Oil then use Sunflower oil – do not use the light version of any oil as it has been processed heavily – use the good stuff. I use coconut oil in moderation… it is organically produced and liquid for drizzling over vegetables and toasts.

Honey and extras –You really do need to avoid sugars refined and in cakes, sweets and biscuits but honey is a sweetener that the body has been utilising since the first time we found a bee hive and a teaspoon in your porridge is okay. Try and find a local honey to you.

Dark chocolate – over 70% a one or two squares per day particularly with a lovely cup of Americano coffee is a delicious way to get your antioxidants. Cocoa is great with some hot milk before bed – antioxidants and melatonin in a cup.

Next week – Project 101 – in a nutshell and moving forward.

©Sally Cronin – Just Food for Health – 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two 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 my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

Your feedback is always welcome and if you do find that following any of the programmes that I have shared are beneficial then it would be great to hear about it.. you can email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com.

Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – 12th – 18th July 2020 – Children’s Book Store, Relationships, Italian Cookery, Book Reviews, Health, Humour and Music


Welcome to the round up of posts you might have missed this week on Smorgasbord.

I hope you are all doing well and that your families are safe and well. There are mixed messages as always about what we can and cannot do and clearly there are still some hot spots around our countries and the world where life continues to be very difficult.

I thought I would give you a hint of the new promotions that are coming up in the next couple of months and to remind you of those running at the moment.

I am creating a spin off Cafe and Bookstore for Children’s books and Early Teens… As Robbie Cheadle pointed out in a comment this week, it is very difficult to market children’s books, especially at the moment with virtual launches. Also because many children’s books tend to be print only. The authors with books suitable up to 12 years old will have separate entries for their children’s books in this new Cafe but will still retain their entries in the main bookstore with other books they may have.

There will be new author and book promotions, separate children’s cafe updates and special promotions at certain times of the year such as Christmas.

I really would like your help once it is set up to spread the word to children’s authors who might like to have a promotion for their books and be showcased in the new cafe.  I have a post going out about it on the 27th of July.

I am putting the entries together in the next week and will share the link in the promotional post. If I have missed any books of yours that are suitable for children up to 12 years old you can let me know at that point.

I have had a great response to the post and August is now fully booked but if you would like to participate in September then just let me know. An ideal opportunity to promote your blog posts and I will also top and tail with any book details, author bio and links. Full details are in the post.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives -#NewSeries August 2020- Pot Luck and Do You Trust Me??

Coming in September – the return of the Sunday Author Interview… with a new theme and questions… promotional post on July 30th.

As always I am very grateful for the time and effort that the contributors to the blog put in to produce such amazing posts, and to you for dropping in. If you have time to leave a comment it is always appreciated and it also is a way to connect to others who pass through the blog. This community has never been more important as it is today, and the stronger it is, the stronger we are as individuals.

Calling All Fixers

Are you that person who has a dire need to fix the people you care about? Are you that person who thinks nobody can fix things like you can? Let me tell you, I was one of those people, and I learned that there are definite limitations when it comes to thinking we can repair others—despite how much our hearts truly wish we could.

D. G. Kaye Explores the Realms of Relationships – July 2020 – Calling All Fixers!

Smorgasbord Summer Music Festival with hosts William Price King and Sally Cronin – Headliners Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen and Chris de Burgh

#Italian Cookery with Silvia Todesco – Milanesa style thin cut beef (Cotoletta alla milanese)

Tales from the Garden – Chapter Ten – The Last Summer Ball and the Winter Fairy – Part One

The Colour of Life – The Nuns At The Glue Pot 1946 by Geoff Cronin

#Haiku #Wexford #Ireland -Rescued from the Deep

Letters from America 1985-1987 – July 1985 – A new baby arrives and I meet Debbie around the pool

#Anthology – This is Lockdown – Covid 19 Diaries – Flash Fiction – Poetry M.J. Mallon and Other Authors

Colleen Chesebro’s weekly Tanka Challenge -#Butterfly Cinquain – Wise Women

Project 101 – Resilience – The importance of a healthy gut (part two) #Candida

thyme

Herbal Medicine – Make Thyme in your life for this versatile herb for health and cooking.

There is little doubt that this last three months of lock down has impacted all our lives. Marjorie Mallon has compiled an anthology that shares her own diary of events over that period about the pandemic and life as a family in lock down.. and the thoughts and poetry of others within the blogging community including myself.

Special Feature – #Anthology – This is Lockdown – Covid 19 Diaries – Flash Fiction – Poetry M.J. Mallon and Other Authors

#Historical #Fantasy – Reign of Retribution (The Eternal Realm Book 3) by Fiona Tarr

#Fantasy – Sea Dragons: Wisp II by Adele Marie Park

#Thriller John W. Howell, #Murder Mystery Barbara Silkstone, #Mystery Stevie Turner

#Familydrama James J. Cudney, #Prehistoric Jacqui Murray, #Children’s Toni Pike

#Poetry M.J. Mallon, #Contemporary Olga Nunez Miret, #Dystopian Teri Polen

#Thriller Allan Hudson, #Poetry Joyce Murphy, #Paranormal #Romance Marcia Meara

#History Barbara Ann Mojica, #Children’s Paul Noel, #Mystery Judy Penz Sheluk

#Romance Ritu Bhathal, #YAMystery Karen Demers Dowdall, #Paranormal S.A. Harris,

#Childrens Deanie Humphrys Dunne, #Dystopian Sandra J. Jackson #NewAdult #Romance Abbie Johnson Taylor

#Writing Denise O’Hagan, #Children Wanda Luthman, #RomanticComedy Jack Lindsey

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 14th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 16th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

The Senior Team pass the Courtroom funnies along.

Thank you very much for dropping in today and during the week… it is much appreciated and I hope you will join me again next week.. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – The Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Herbal Medicine – Make Thyme in your life for this versatile herb for health and cooking.


You can find more information on the use of herbal medicine and Dandelion in the first post in the series: The Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Dandelion

What is Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicine has been part of our ancient and more modern history for thousands of years. Unfortunately there is no money to be made by the pharmaceutical companies when only a plant is processed. Therefore in the last twenty years particularly there has been a focused effort, at a very high level, to downgrade all alternative therapies including herbal remedies to quackery.  We can only now suggest that an alternative therapy MAY help you.

A commonsense warning about herbal medicines.

Herbal medicines should be treated with respect and should only be used if you have read all the contraindications, possible side effects and never with any prescribed medication unless you have cleared with your doctor first.

This is particularly important if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant as taking specific herbal medicines can cause harm.

Go to a qualified herbalist or if you buy over the counter on online read all the instructions beforehand or enclosed in the packet. I always buy the more expensive and professionally prepared tinctures and have stayed with that brand for the last twenty years.

Having established that; I want to introduce you to herbs that can be taken as a prepared tincture but also those that you can include in your diet which may improve and maintain your health. This week the herb Thyme that will be a familiar ingredient in dishes in your kitchen I am sure.

thymeThis versatile herb can be used to flavour many wonderful dishes . As with most of our herbs, thyme has a long and revered history medicinally, and if you had been a prominent Egyptian, the herb would have been used to embalm you. Since the herb has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties it would have helped preserve the bodies beautifully.

The Greeks and Romans used thyme as a purifier, burning it as incense in rooms and in their baths. It was also added to food such as cheese and alcohol – again probably because of its antibacterial properties and it may well be one of the first natural preservatives used in food manufacture.

It became better known in Britain in the 17th century and healers used the herb to relieve the symptoms of whooping cough, breathing difficulties, gout and mild stomach complaints.

The oils has been used externally to help heal abscesses and during the First World War it was used to treat infections and relieve pain, as there were no antibiotics at that time.

Today the herb is cultivated all around the world and apart from cooking and medicine it is used in the manufacture of cosmetics and perfume.

How does thyme help the lungs?

As humans we have a sophisticated defence system to try and get rid of harmful substances before they can damage us. The cough reflex is an automatic response to mucus and infection in the lungs. Thyme helps the body with that job and acts as an expectorant loosening the congestion and generally supporting the respiratory system. It also helps soothe coughs allowing a more effective use of the response, allowing the airways to get rid of more mucous.

It is particularly beneficial for emphysema and chronic bronchitis sufferers. It can also be use in conjunction with other herbs such as cowslip to aid the absorption of thyme but also as an expectorant. You can read more about the lungs and respiratory diseases : Smorgasbord Health Column – Respiratory Diseases

The list of thyme’s medicinal properties is quite lengthy but apart from its antibacterial uses it also is anti-fungal, antiseptic, antiparasitic, antispasmodic, astringent, diuretic, expectorant, immune boosting, sedating or stimulating according to dosage and is a tonic.

As well as upper respiratory infections and lung conditions it has also been used medicinally to treat colic, depression, arthritis, eating disorders, ear infections, gastritis, hay-fever, headaches, heartburn, parasites, shingles , tooth decay and tetanus.

N.B -There is traditional use for bed-wetting in children but as it is also a mild diuretic I would want to see evidence of that. It does however, disinfect the urine which can be helpful for those who suffer frequent bouts of cystitis.

Taken an hour before meals, it may stimulate the appetite, useful for someone who is elderly or recovering from illness.

An oddball treatment is one for alopecia – so if you are going a little thin on top you might want to try a little of the oil in your shampoo and conditioner.

It certainly is very versatile but you do need to take care when using medicinally and consult a herbalist for the correct dosage.

The plant contains some helpful nutrients, the primary being Vitamin K which is why this herb does need to be used with caution. Because it is so important to be aware of the ingredients of any herb that you take, here is a brief description of Vitamin K and its actions on the body.

Vitamin K

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

One of the sources of K2 is from grass fed animals that are included in our diet…. With mass farming on the rise, and feed being grain rather than grass, there is less K2 available to us in our diets.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WARNING – When you should not take Thyme.

Because of the high Vitamin K content that slows blood clotting you need to stop taking at least three weeks before having surgery.

If you are also on medication that has this effect then you should not take the herb.

For example, many people from middle age onwards are now being prescribed low dose aspirin to thin the blood so you should not take Thyme in a herbal form. Warfarin is a high dose anticoagulant and it would be dangerous to combine the two.

If in any doubt consult your doctor and always before taking any herbal remedy or check with a qualified advisor. If you feel that the person you have asked, in a health food shop for example does not appear to be informed, then there should be a herbal reference guide in all dispensaries that gives the action and precautions of every remedy they sell. If they do not have a guide for you to read then buy somewhere else.

I have worked with A. Vogel herbal remedies for over 22 years. A Vogel Herbal Remedies is one you might try.

You can buy thyme in capsule form and it often comes with another herb called fenugreek which is another expectorant and herb used in the treatment of lung disorders. The oil is used externally and is very warming when rubbed on the chest during bronchitis or pneumonia.

Read the instructions for dosage on the bottle which is dependent on age and health.

Thyme as part of your diet.

The nutrients in Thyme that make it a useful component in your diet are; iron, manganese, calcium, and tryptophan.

Adding Thyme to your food in cooking is not dangerous unless you put tablespoons into the recipe.Thyme is a versatile herb and it is wonderful with meat dishes. It is quite pungent so take care when using fresh thyme and only use a little at time.

You can added to your baking and here is a great site with some recipes including one for cornbread.

oh3915p249-thyme-corn-bread-mPhoto credit: Cooking Light

If you have a cold I suggest making a tea with a small amount of leaves, seep for five minutes and then add fresh lemon juice and a teaspoon of honey. You will find it not only refreshing but it may also help prevent your infection reaching the next level.

©Sally Cronin – Just Food for Health – 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two 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 my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

Your feedback is always welcome and if you do find that following any of the programmes that I have shared are beneficial then it would be great to hear about it.. you can email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Project 101 – Resilience – The importance of a healthy gut (part two) #Candida by Sally Cronin


Project 101 – Resilience is aimed at developing a strong  immune system and a body that can fight off disease at any age. One of the key factors in achieving that level of robust health is being a healthy weight. There have been a number of risk factors identified that put certain groups of the population at a higher risk of a critical outcome from being infected with the virus or being unable to manage the severity of the resulting infection.

One of the cornerstones of our health is based in the lower half of our body in the intestines. Our gut health determines the efficiency of many of our operating systems, including our immune system. Although I have posted on Candida Albicans and the Digestive system in the past, I would like to being the two together to emphasize how important eating fresh food ‘cooked from scratch’ is to our health and resilience to not just Covid-19 but other diseases too. You can find Part One on a Healthy Gut Here.

Candida Albicans – Eliminating its Favourite food – Sugar

In this chapter I share the strategies for eliminating the overgrowth and creating a balanced bacteria in your gut by eliminating sugars

There is a ton of dietary advice out there on the net about the “correct” diet to get rid of an overgrowth of Candida, some of which is pretty drastic. Of course, you need to adjust your intake of certain foods, because even if you are prescribed anti-fungal drugs, the pathogen itself will always be present in your gut waiting for another opportunity to take over the body again.

Remember that Candida Albicans exists in all of us at normal levels in the intestines and it can just take a two day stomach upset, which causes an imbalance of healthy flora, to trigger an overgrowth. You also need to think twice before you decide to embark on a crash diet that is nutritionally depleted – this too will cause an imbalance of essential bacteria in the gut.
Prevention

Preventing this overgrowth in the first place is the ideal. Unfortunately, it is not just antibiotics we take that can kill off good bacteria in the gut and allow the Candida to thrive unaffected. It is highly likely that long-term use of medication including the contraceptive pill or HRT may also result in an overgrowth.

Certainly, people 50+ who have been prescribed life-long medication for cholesterol, blood pressure etc may also be at risk of an overgrowth, and it may take generations to understand the impact on our intestinal bacteria.

Please do not stop taking prescribed medication without consultation with your doctor.

If you do have to take antibiotics for a serious infection, then certainly taking a course of probiotics afterwards can be helpful – there are some on the market now that claim to be resistant to the antibiotics so that you can take simultaneously, but you do need to continue them for a period of time afterwards.

Live yogurts are fine for helping to maintain the healthy balance but they are not strong enough to kill an overgrowth, neither are they a magic bullet! You cannot expect to eat a rubbish diet and then have one small pot of yogurt a day in the hopes it will make up for it!

The other ingredient in many supermarket pots of yogurt is the hidden sugar levels which of course is Candida’s favourite food.

Candida’s favourite food and ours, is sugar and the first step to reducing an overgrowth is removing sugar from your diet.

Whatever the reason for your overgrowth of Candida Albicans; you still need to adapt your diet. The main problem is the sugars in industrialised foods will not just satisfy your sweet cravings, but the candida’s too. You will be surprised at how much sugar is included in savoury products that you may buy, and it is important to check labels.

Sugar addiction is recognised as a real and extremely harmful craving mentally and physically.

I am a sugar addict………..along with millions of people around the world, most of whom have struggled with their weight and their health all their lives. Sugar is everywhere – there is no getting away from it. Not just sweets and chocolate, cakes, muffins, bread and cereals but hidden in pasta sauces and most of our savoury favourites. In every shop and in our own kitchen cupboards and fridge – always within reach and as enticing as anything in our lives.

What are sugars?

Sugars are a vital component of the fuel we require to function – unfortunately the modern diet is akin to a 24 hour petrol station and most of us slide effortlessly up to the supercharged pump and pay the very heavy price to fill our tank with it. We then tootle at 20 miles an hour or slower and instead of burning off the fuel we store it in our cells – as fat.

A quick look at the fuel itself. It belongs in the carbohydrate food group, our main source of energy. Carbohydrates are a group of nutrients that contain carbon atoms that have been hydrated by adding water molecules. Carbohydrates include sugars, starches and fibre. The sugar and the starches are metabolised by the body into the simple sugar, glucose.

Glucose molecules circulate in the bloodstream, supplying our cells with the fuel, as they need it. Any additional glucose is converted into glycogen, which is stored in the muscles of the liver. If that storehouse is already full then any excess glucose gets converted into fat.

There are two types of carbohydrate, simple and complex.

ourbetterhealth.org

Simple carbohydrates contain one or two saccharides such as sucrose (glucose and fructose) which is table sugar and lactose (glucose and galactose) which is the sugar found in milk. This is called a disaccharide.

If the carbohydrate only has one saccharide, it is called monosaccharide such as fructose which is found in fruit and honey. The less saccharides the sweeter the taste so the sweetest is therefore fructose. Whilst moderate consumption of natural sources of simple sugars is absolutely fine including fruit and some honey it is the hidden simple sugars in industrialised foods that are causing the problem.

Complex carbohydrates are known as polysaccharides and they are made of long strings of simple sugars and there are many different kinds. These are the starches and are the most nutritious because they tend to be a component in a food that has other nutrients. The body also breaks down starches into glucose, but it takes longer to digest than the simple sugars which is why they do not cause the same blood sugar fluctuations.

Fibre is a very important carbohydrate because the intestinal tract does not have the enzymes necessary to break down the long chain into individual sugar molecules so it does not get absorbed into the bloodstream – also, fibre slows down the digestion and absorption of sugar, which extends and maintains the energy levels it provides. The source for this nutritious and useful form of complex sugars is found in green vegetables, whole grains, potatoes and other fibre rich foods.

Why do I use the term industrialised?

Earlier I mentioned the addictive nature of sugars caused largely by the accessibility to those of us in developed countries to industrialised food. I use that term because it is more appropriate than just using the term processed. Natural foods can also go through a form of processing to get to our table, but as long as that process does not include the removal of essential elements or the addition of industrial ingredients, it is unlikely to be harmful.

This industrialisation of our foods is very recent in terms of our evolution. Less than 150 years. To put this into perspective in terms of our body’s genetic make-up.. It can take 10,000 years for a mutation to occur in our DNA to adapt to a new environment. Whilst we have much more access to natural foods all year around, (which would have not been the case 10,000 years ago), we have the disadvantage of now including artificial foods that our body simply cannot process effectively to provide essential nutrients to be healthy.

The body is a sophisticated and complex machine which requires a diverse range of ingredients to process and then pass into the bloodstream to provide the energy we need both on a daily basis and additional power when we need it. If the ingredients you are putting into your body, are not of the chemical make-up essential to make this fuel – you will not only be lacking in energy, but the corrosive nature of the poor ingredients will cause damage and wear on our organs, arterial system and long-time health.

The manufacturers are well aware of our addiction to sugar and manipulate us into eating more.

For some, high sugar/fat foods are a comfort, and the manufacturers are well aware of this.. Take a look at the chocolate adverts on the television and most feature women who turn to chocolate whilst they watch a sad or romantic movie, or because they are day dreaming of love or a sexy hunk dropping off some Black Magic…In this one the girl is wandering through a healthy field of sunflowers, giving the illusion that the flake is too.

It is true that at certain times of the month a woman’s hormone fluctuations can increase that desire for sweet foods.. We tend to misinterpret this as a craving for chocolate, but in fact it is more likely to do with the body wanting to prepare for conception by ingesting high energy foods and changes in blood sugar levels. But the body is looking to receive that fuel from nutritious complex carbohydrates and fruit rather than a Toblerone! (Trust me)

The amount of sugar that we ingest is not just in response to a possible addiction… It is more likely to be habit.

This habit was formed when we were fed as a child. In our house for example we always had a dessert after our main meal and my father was the master of the steamed treacle pudding with lots of sweet custard. He had two teaspoons of sugar in his tea and he had done so since the first cup his mother gave him as a child. It never occurred to him to reduce it to one or none at all. He had a very sweet tooth.

How many biscuits do you automatically reach for when you open a tin or packet? I bet like me it will be at least two…one piece of toast with butter and jam seems a bit lonely too.. A couple is a round number.

Anyway..One of the key indicators that you are eating too much of this high octane fuel, turbo-charged with too much sugar is a candida overgrowth.

Apart from an overgrowth of candida, eating too much sugar puts you at risk of morbid obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, varicose veins, high blood pressure, eye disease, depression and liver and kidney problems.

Sugar intake guidelines for a healthy balanced diet.

First and foremost – these can vary, but for the sake of having some form of measurement to use – men should not consume more than 37.5 gms or 9 teaspoons a day of additional dietary sugar a day. For women it is less around 25grams or 6 teaspoons. That is not really a great deal – to be honest by the time you have had a frosted cereal for breakfast with a couple of spoons of sugar you have had it for the day!!

There are plenty of lists out there with the sugar content of everyday foods. However, the manufacturers can be very clever when hiding the actual level of sugar in their product, one of which is splitting the sugar content into different types and who has time to stand in the aisle of a supermarket and add up the small (very small print) on every item you buy? Food manufacturers are well aware for our new found love for sweet foods and have no problem exploiting it!

A quick guideline – keep to foods that have a total sugar content of 5gms or less per 100gms…and do not buy anything that has syrup at the end of it, or sweetener or cane…..and remember that to your body whatever its name or origins it is all just simply sugar and it will be treated as such.

Low fat foods can be the biggest culprits and certainly fizzy drinks should only be drunk very occasionally. Canned fruits in syrup may seem a low fat option but even the light syrup options have 18grams of sugar! Pasta sauces and certainly most Chinese sauces are high in sugar and if you cannot live without your sweet and sour chicken three times a week, you have a sugar addiction! Your daily bread has sugars and certainly the body will treat the white flour products, white rice and pasta that you eat as sugar.

If you are diabetic then you do need to monitor what you are eating with regard to carbohydrates and sugars and that will be explained to you by your medical advisor.

Making a start on reducing sugar in your life.

  1. To be successful you need to move your body away from its addiction to sugars over a period of about four weeks as going cold turkey can end badly!
  2. First keep a food diary for a week and circle everything that contains sugar which includes pasta sauces, cereals, soups, ketchup, jams, biscuits, cakes in fact suspect everything!! And don’t forget the soft drinks that you include regularly.
  3. Begin the process though by halving the amount that you eat immediately.

As most of the sugars will be in foods that are snacks, you will find you can reduce the sugar content by substituting with these natural foods.

• Greek yogurt
• cottage cheese
• Avocados
• olives
• raspberries
• strawberries
• melon

Rather than eating sweet biscuits, substitute with high quality oatcakes (check label but typically 45% lower in sugar than other biscuits). Eat with some low fat cottage cheese, sliced avocado or even some thin sliced cheddar.

Artificial Sweeteners

I am not keen on artificial sweeteners, even those as touted as ‘natural’ including Stevia, which after all has been manufactured to achieve the powdery substance. Whilst some may be deemed safe to use by the authorities, if you have a sugar craving, you are not reducing that by offering it a substitute to refined sugars, as you are still feeding the habit. Your body and Candida, will react to artificial sweeteners in the same way as they do to real sugar.
In summary

1. Strategy one in your battle with your Candida overgrowth, is to halve the amount of sugar in your diet in the first two weeks.
2. Reduce the amount again by half in the second two weeks.

Next week – Eating to fuel your good gut bacteria… and starving out the unhealthy overgrowth.

©Sally Cronin – Just Food for Health – 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two 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 my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

Your feedback is always welcome and if you do find that following any of the programmes that I have shared are beneficial then it would be great to hear about it.. you can email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com.