Smorgasbord Health Column – A-Z of Common Conditions – #Asthma – Causes and Management

This post is from November 2016 so time for a review and I have also added the links to more recent posts on research and nutritional updates on the disease.

What is asthma?

The actual word asthma comes from the Greek azein meaning to breathe hard. It is an intermittent disease unlike chronic conditions such as cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis or emphysema.

Swollen BronchiiThe bronchial tubes in the lungs are made of muscle and a mucus membrane. During an asthma attack this mucus membrane becomes inflamed and swollen causing the muscles to contract and create spasms. Air movement is restricted and as it tries to escape from the bronchi it causes the wheezing which is the most common symptom of asthma.

Attacks vary in severity but they can easily spiral out of control, particularly in young children who are more inclined to panic. If the attack is not controlled either by medication or relaxation techniques there is a danger that the airways will close completely cutting off the supply of oxygen to the major organs and the rest of the body.

What causes asthma?

The word syndrome, when associated with a disease, implies that the cause is usually unknown and this is the case with Asthma. Until recently Asthma was divided into two types, allergic (Extrinsic) and non-allergic (Intrinsic).

Researchers have now discovered a number of classifications within the two main recognised causes that help isolate possible triggers.

Over 90% of asthma sufferers are going to be suffering from allergic asthma and the triggers for this are very widespread. It could be from pets, cigarette smoke, pollen, dust mites, foods and other common pollutants such as chemicals in the workplace.

When children suffer from asthma it is considered to be the allergic kind and there is evidence to suggest that boys are more at risk than girls are. There are a number of possible food triggers that might be responsible but there is a definite link between smoking and pregnancy. If the mother smokes the foetus will not have mature lungs at birth. If the mother or other people around the baby continue to smoke the exposure will trigger an asthma attack.

What are the most common asthma triggers?

This list is not exhaustive but does represent the most common allergens that are likely to trigger an asthma attack.

  • · Additives and preservatives in food such as tartrazine and sulphites.
  • · Alcohol
  • · Air conditioning
  • · Animal saliva and urine
  • · Animal mites
  • · Chemicals
  • · Cold air
  • · Colds and upper respiratory infections
  • · Drug reactions (anaphylactic shock to aspirin, tetanus)
  • · Dust mites and their droppings
  • · Exercise
  • · Fungal infections such as Candida
  • · Fumes from paints
  • · Hair products such as sprays and colorants
  • · High humidity
  • · Nuts
  • · Pillows containing feathers
  • · Plastics, PVC and latex
  • · Sawdust
  • · Shellfish
  • · Smoke
  • · Solvents
  • · Stress
  • · Tobacco smoke
  • · Tree and grass pollens.

If a child seems to suffer from a persistent hacking, or congested cough it might indicate the onset of asthma and it is a very good idea to get them checked by a doctor.

A very young baby may suffer from a persistent cough and also have strange muscular contractions between the rib cage when inhaling. A baby might flare at the nostrils when feeding indicating that it is having breathing difficulties. If the baby is breathing more than 40 times per minute when sleeping, then you should mention it to your doctor immediately.

What about non-allergic asthma?

Non- Allergic asthma is not likely in children and tends to develop in adults in their 40’s. This may be an accumulative exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace, smoking, perfumes, a tendency towards upper respiratory tract infections or intolerance to cold air. There are some indications that people who suffer from severe indigestion, including reflux, may also be at risk of an asthma attack.

If there is a family risk of allergies, including asthma, there is a possibility that strenuous exercise could trigger an attack. A combination of increased breathing rate with a loss of heat and moisture in the lungs can cause coughing throughout the exercise. In cold and dry weather the symptoms may develop into a full-blown asthma attack.

When is an attack likely to take place?

An attack can take place at any time but it is very common at night and for some reason the most likely time is between midnight and 4 am. There are a number of possible causes such as mites and dry skin cells in the bedclothes and also sleeping position and fluctuations in bedroom temperature. Being night-time only serves to make the attack even more frightening than normal, particularly for children, or if it is the first attack the sufferer has experienced.

What are the common symptoms of an asthma attack?

It is very important to prevent the early symptoms from escalating into a full-blown asthma attack and it is just as vital for family and friends to understand and recognise the initial signs so that they can support and help the victim.

The most common signs are a dry persistent cough with breathlessness followed by a tight feeling in the chest. As I have already mentioned, wheezing is very likely, as are signs of a panic attack. The victim is likely to become very agitated with sweating and increased pulse rate. The natural instinct is to rid the airways of the inflamed mucus and coughing is the body’s way of achieving this.

As the attack progresses to an acute stage there will be evidence of lack of oxygen by way of a bluish tint around the lips, face, gums and nail beds. It is vital that medical assistance is called immediately.

How can you help someone who is suffering an asthma attack?

It is very important that you keep calm. The ability to breath is fundamental and when that is restricted it is extremely hard not to panic and you will need to help them keep focused until medical assistance reaches you. A person who has been asthmatic most of their lives will have an inhaler and will be practised in dealing with the situation while waiting for help but there will be occasions when an attack happens unexpectedly or for the first time and in that case you will need to be active to ensure their best chances of recovery.

As with a heart attack the sitting position is the best for the person to adopt, probably upright on the edge of a bed or sofa with something to lean on in front of them.

Keep reassuring them and try to get them to breathe deeply and evenly with you and this is easier if you are in front of them and they are focused on your mouth and eyes.

Pursed lip breathing is used by both asthmatics and athletes to expel the build-up of carbon dioxide in the restricted airways. They need to inhale as normal through the nose and then exhale by “blowing” out the air quite vigorously. This stretches the bronchial tubes and helps get rid of the excess carbon dioxide.

Keep reassuring them that everything will be fine and that help is on the way.

How can an attack be prevented?

In this modern world it is virtually impossible to remove all the possible triggers from an individual’s environment. You can take steps in the home to remove potential culprits although if you love your cat or dog it is certainly not easy.

With pets you need to minimise the areas that their dander and mites can gather such as carpets and soft furnishings. Marble or wood floors are a great deal more hygienic than carpeting, especially in the bedroom. Don’t allow pets on the furniture or beds and always make sure that hands are washed after handling them.

If there are rugs in the house then they need to be vacuumed every day. The same goes for sofas and chairs. Bedding needs special attention and pillows and duvets should contain man-made fillings not feathers. Change linen as frequently as possible and make sure that it is washed at 55°C (130°F) to kill any dust mites and remove allergens. Use organic washing powders to reduce the risk of a reaction.

For children it is not only the family pet that might cause a reaction. Stuffed toys can also be well loved and handled. Stick teddy in the freezer for 24 hours every few days and this will kill off dust mites. Change a child’s bed linen every day as well as pyjamas.

What about food triggers for asthma?

As I have already mentioned there are certain additives and preservatives that could trigger an asthma attack. There are also certain foods that can cause a reaction and these are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy products, wheat, fish and shellfish.

Experts believe that relatively few asthmatics are actually affected by these food triggers but they are known allergens, that can cause anaphylactic shock in some people, so should be suspect.

There has been some research into the effect of casein, which is a milk protein and a known allergen on the increasing rates of asthma in children, particularly those in deprived areas. The premise is that children in these areas are given a great deal of milk and cheese through welfare agencies and as a result asthma rates have increased significantly in relation to children in other environments.

It has been proved in other studies that eating dairy products increases the levels of mucus and as it is the inflammation of the mucus in the bronchial tubes that results in asthma attacks, it makes sense to consider dairy products as a major suspect food.

In addition to foods that we eat naturally in our diet, there are also hidden dangers in processed foods and if you are are a regular visitor you will know that I prefer the ‘Cook From Scratch’ method of all food preparation.

As you know, I rarely advocate eliminating any food permanently but in the case of life-threatening allergic food reactions, there are some compelling reasons for not eating foods that you strongly suspect of triggering an asthma attack.

If you eliminate the suspect foods that I mentioned completely, for at least six weeks and then re-introduce them, in a very diluted form, you will be able to determine if there is any reaction.

There are also a number of allergy testing services available – but make sure that they are reputable and that any elimination of foods is carefully monitored and the effects measured from week to week.

Is there anything else that will decrease the risk of asthma attacks?

It is very important to maintain a healthy immune system. The last thing an asthmatic needs is to suffer from frequent infections, particularly of the upper respiratory tract. Colds and bronchitis are potentially very damaging to the already weakened respiratory system so a diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables is essential.

Exercise is also very important, especially walking, which is unlikely to trigger an exercise related attack unless the air is very cold. If you are exercising outside in the winter it is important to wear a scarf around your lower face to ensure that air is warmed before entering the nasal passages and airways.

Lifting weights under supervision will help develop the muscles in the thorax and help control breathing more effectively.

Relaxation is another key factor, especially at the onset of an attack, and many sufferers find that yoga techniques help them relieve the stress and prevent the attack from escalating.

© Sally Cronin – Just food for health – 1998 – 2018

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

My nutritional background

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

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

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask them, either in the comments or if you prefer by email –


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up…Remembrance Poetry and Music St. Thomas, Stir Fries, Flatbed trucks and #Christmas #Promotions

Welcome to the weekly round up and we have had a lovely three days with friends from Madrid who we have not seen since April 2016. Of course the heavens opened to welcome them in true Irish style, but they still managed to see all the main sites in Dublin yesterday with my husband as their guide. The sun came out this morning long enough for a walk by the sea.. and now they are on their way to the airport. We never stopped talking and my rusty Spanish is now a little less rusty.

Christmas Promotions on Smorgasbord.

It is time to get the Christmas promotions started as there are 160 authors in the Cafe and Bookstore who I will be featuring as well as new books released before December 25th.. Then it would not be Christmas without a party, and I have one starting on December 13th… The Twelve Days of Christmas.. with special guests each day, music, humour, traditions and of course food..

If you are in the Cafe and Bookstore you will be automatically included but I do need to know if you have a new book coming out before Christmas. Also if you are not in the Cafe and Bookstore and would like to be including.

Head over and take a look and I already have some guests who have invited themselves.. you better get in touch sharpish..

My thanks as always to the contributors to the blog and this week D.G. Kaye kicked off the proceedings by taking us to the lovely island of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.. A  destination that I have been too as well.

The Food and Cookery Column with Carol Taylor – delicious stir fries #Thai style

Time for another of Linda Bethea’s humour filled and heartfelt posts about family life. This week the hazards of travelling on a flat bed truck…. You can find Linda’s other posts Here

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World War I and II songs that entertained the troops and made life more bearable for those waiting for them at home.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Update #reviews

Robbie Cheadle, Stevier Turner, Don Massenzio and Miriam Hurdle.

Sue Vincent, Amy Reade and Cathy Ryan.

My response to Colleen Chesebro’s Tuesday #Poetry Challenge – #etheree follow the post link..

The War Poets

Vera Brittain

Rupert Brooke

Edmund Blunden

Siegfried Sassoon

Isaac Rosenberg

And my own tribute to my grandfather – 1987 – November 2nd 1918.

Two stories from What’s in a Name… Volume Two.

An entitled princess is not keen on marrying a prince she has not met before… Meet Sonia.

And trouble at the checkout for Theresa.

A closer look at Osteo-arthritis and Gout.

Humour and Afternoon Video

Guest comedians supplying the laughter this wee.. D.G. Kaye and Linda Bethea

More Humour from D.G. Kaye and Eric and Joy Lennick.

Thank you for dropping in and I hope you have enjoyed the posts.. Please don’t forget to make a note of the Christmas promotions that are an opportunity to promote your blog and books.  thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Health Column – A – Z of Common Conditions – Arthritis – Osteo and Gout

Last week I covered rheumatoid arthritis and today a look at two more of the over 200 forms of the disease.

Osteoarthritis and Gout.

Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease is one of the oldest types of arthritis. It is basically wear and tear. It is the breakdown of the joint’s cartilage. Cartilage is the cushion in the joint that prevents the two ends of the bones from rubbing together. When this pad of cushioning is worn away and the fluid that normally lubricates the joint has gone – the two ends grind together causing pain and inflammation.

The actual physical process is an increase in water content of the cartilage and a reduction of protein in the tissue as we age. It mainly affects the weight bearing joints such as the ankles, lower back, knees and hips but can also affect the hands. Those most likely to suffer from the condition are middle aged or elderly. In some cases however if a younger person has had a very physically demanding lifestyle the symptoms can set in earlier.

A wearing down of the cushion in the joint where the two bones meet. –

What are the most common causes of this type of arthritis?

You can be affected by being overweight most of your life as I was, or leading a particularly energetic sporting life – football, rugby or athletics. It is most common as we get into our 40’s and 50’s when a lifetime of activity can catch up with us. People you have suffered accidents in the past with broken bones may find that the damage is worsened as they get older.

There is a school of thought that believes there is a genetic pre-disposition to Osteoarthritis particularly when it develops in the hands. It could be caused by defective cartilage or defects in the way the bones join together.

What are some of the symptoms of osteoarthritis?

It is purely a disease of the joints. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis it does not affect the organs of the body. The most common symptom is pain in the joint particularly after a lot of activity. It is usually worse later in the day obviously. Also you may find that your back and hips and knees are painful after sitting for long periods of time and that getting up in the morning is painful and takes some time for you to regain mobility. Some of the joints will swell, especially if you have twisted the joint during activity.  Knees are particularly vulnerable to stairs and explains why the sale of stair lifts is on the increase.  It is not uncommon for the symptoms to come and go depending on a number of factors: Weight, heat and activity levels.

What happens if the condition is not treated?

If the pain and the immobility becomes too severe there are now some surgical options.  There are new techniques available that are less extreme than joint replacement but that needs to be assessed on an individual basis. Depending on the type of joint replacement, they will last around the 15 to 17 years.  This means that if you have surgery in your 50’s you are probably facing another in your 70’s and 80’s.

The problem is that the friction between the bone ends causes mobility problems which often lead to more weight gain which is one of the leading causes of the condition in the first place.

Also inflammation of the cartilage can sometimes stimulate new bone outgrowths called spurs around the joint, which cause even more discomfort and lack of mobility.

The bottom line is that it is a very painful condition and most sufferers are forced into taking very strong painkillers such as cortisone.

What about nutrition and osteoarthritis

Collagen needs to be maintained both between the joints and as connective tissue such tendons and ligaments. Normally when we damage connective tissue the body will produce collagen to repair them. However, if you look at connective tissue that is attached to proteins that you are preparing to cook; you will see that they tend to be very pale in colour… This is because there is a poor blood supply to them. This means that the components necessary to heal them completely are unable to reach them effectively.

Collagen is also a component of our skin so as our face begins to wrinkle and loose formation the process is mirrored internally.

To assist the body in producing new collagen for a more youthful looking skin and healthier joint padding, ligaments and tendons that hold that joint in place; you need a diet rich in the following elements.

fruit-and-veg-bannerVitamin C rich foods are essential. Part of the issue with age related connective tissue damage is that we tend to eat less food as we age. This is not just related to a lack of appetite but the condition of our teeth. How many of you have noticed that you avoid certain fruits such as apples and pears because they are now tough to eat and chew? If this is the case then you need to substitute other softer but high vitamin C vegetables and fruit. You also need to explore options with your dentist to improve your ability to chew all foods as this is a fundamental part of the digestive process.

If you do not have rheumatoid arthritis you can enjoy the nightshade family such as red peppers, tomatoes and potatoes but also berries, watermelon, broccoli and papaya. Citrus fruits such as mandarins which are less acidic are also excellent.

salmonProtein is also a very important component and you should be including sufficient daily including lean meats, oily fish, poultry, eggs, as well as beans and vegetables such as squash.

Vitamins A, B-Complex, C and E are very important anti-oxidants but also have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body which reduces swelling. These can be found in whole grains, oily fish, brightly coloured vegetables and fruit

Most people understand that keeping hydrated is very important for the suppleness of our skin and this applies to our internal collagen health as well. Please do not listen to the aqua sceptics! Although you do take in good amounts of fluids from most of the foods that we eat, it is not sufficient to counteract central heating, air conditioning, exercise and the high levels of sugar and salt in our diets.

However….. do not drink fizzy chemical concoctions as they are loaded with additives and sugars that are not naturally found in any of our connective tissues and will only compound the damage.

Aim for eight cups of tea, coffee, herbal teas and pure water per day… The occasional glass of juice is okay as long as it is freshly made and diluted with water. I drink diluted cranberry juice once a day.


Glucosamine in supplements is often used to treat joint pain along with another ingredient, Chondroitin;both naturally occurring in connective tissue. There is research into the effectiveness of taking in supplementary form but do make sure that your research the brands carefully and cheap is not necessarily the best option.

I take Aloe Vera gel daily as it is very nutritional and great for a number of health issues, but it does also contain glucosamine and I find more effective taken in this type of carrier than in tablet form. Aloe Vera also has other minerals that help promote enzyme reactions in the joints which may help them heal faster. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect that helps relieve the pain.

Is there any specific health advice for someone who is suffering from this form of the disease?

Hard though it may seem for someone who suffers from Osteoarthritis- exercise is one of the ways to help improve flexibility and increase muscle strength to support the effected joints.  Obviously sports that require flexing of the joints such as tennis or squash are not a good idea, golf could also be a struggle as you are using your lower back, hips and knees.  Walking and swimming are usually very helpful although you will need to adjust your leg movements for certain swimming styles.  I find that 20 minutes on my treadmill excellent but I do wear an elasticated knee brace for additional support.

Gout can effect just the big toe or the whole foot which becomes inflamed and painful –

What is gout?

Gout, contrary to popular belief, does not just affect old men who drink too much port. The actual condition is caused by crystals of uric acid depositing themselves into the tissues of the body.

When the condition is chronic hard lumps of uric acid are deposited in and around the joints – these lumps can also lodge in the kidneys leading to decreased kidney function and kidney stones.

It can be hereditary – an inherited abnormality in the body’s ability to process uric acid. We all produce Uric acid, which is a by-product of purines, which are present in most of the foods that we eat.

Which part of the body does gout normally affect?

The kidney problems are separate – it becomes gout when one of the joints is affected. It is usually in the foot and particularly the big toe. But other joints can be affected too.

Unlike the other forms of arthritis – this is a more sudden onset of the problem and is usually linked to immediate causes rather than a systemic problem. The reason the joint at the base of the big toe is most affected is that as the uric acid crystals are carried through the system they collect at the lowest point of the body – i.e. the big toe. Some people will also suffer a fever with the outbreak and the attack can last anything from a few hours to weeks or months. It is recurring depending on how acute the condition and largely down to your lifestyle.

It really is prevention rather than cure with this one. And particularly keeping the correct fluid balance. This is essential for your kidneys anyway to ensure that all the toxins that you are taking in are flushed out. If you are dehydrated uric acid will build up and crystallise so that is why taking in sufficient fluid rich foods and liquids each day is important.

It is also important to maintain a healthy weight with less sugar in your diet.  Sugar is acidic and disrupts our natural alkaline/acid balance in the blood which is of course flowing around the body including the joint areas.

What about nutrition and Gout?

For this type of arthritis, Purine rich foods can increase the production of uric acid so some of the foods to avoid are shellfish, liver and kidneys. Funnily enough, dairy intake has been shown to be beneficial in some research.

Protein from vegetable sources such as broccoli does not seem to have the same effect as Purine from animal protein so lots of fresh fruit and vegetables are essential.

Alcohol however does cause increased risk of uric acid output particularly beer and spirits. Wine did not seem to be as much of a problem. Again I think that gout attacks in the past have been more associated with the dehydrating effects of alcohol rather than drinking too much Port. Plus the fact that the usual sufferers tended to be wealthy males who consumed large amounts of meats at every meal.

What else can we do to ease the symptoms of arthritis?

All three of the arthritis strains will benefit from some physical support such as Acupuncture – I had that for a time and it certainly was beneficial in the healing process. Yoga, which involves gentle stretching, is excellent provided you have a good teacher and also the same with Tai Chi.

Exercise is essential both for weight management and to build a strong muscle structure to compensate for the joint weakness. Also endorphins are released during exercise which acts as a natural painkiller.

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998- 2018

My nutritional background

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

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

Thank you for dropping in and I look forward to your feedback, experiences with arthritis and questions.. Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Halloween Party, Harp in Jazz, Garlic and Book Gifts for a Daughter (everyone)

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

It is unlikely that you missed the fact that it was Halloween….and certainly it was pretty horrific around here on Thursday with plenty of spooky goings-on.. Thanks to those who dressed up and participated and to everyone who dropped in and played along.

My husband cut off my head (from a photograph and created a costume for me..Like all supermodels there was a fair bit of air-brushing (well quite a bit actually) and I am afraid I am back to my original body shape again. It was fun whilst it lasted.

Here they are along with the fabulous guests in their fancy dress magnificence…

There is still some left overs, music to dance too and enough Bloody Mary frozen to keep us going until next Halloween….

My thanks as always to the contributors to the blog who share their expertise, experience and effort to create amazing posts.

This week William Price King shares the life and career of Dorothy Ashby who was one of the few harpists to play jazz. Normally associated with classical music, this was not the only barrier that this talented musician broke through.

I am sharing some of the Cook from Scratch posts that Carol Taylor and I collaborated on last year. And since it was Halloween... it seemed appropriate to give you plenty of reasons to liberally consume onions and garlic…to keep the vampires and the doctor away


At this time of year, as we start to think about gifts for Christmas, we turn to books. But picking the right book for the person you are buying for is an art. Jessica Norrie shares the books that she has gifted her daughter….

Joy Lennick shares the fun and games of entertaining a small house guest…

Personal posts

Musicians have voiced their protest for governments, wars, inequality for centuries, sometimes camouflaged with pretty words and secret codes that were only recognised by those within an inner circle.

Meet Queenie who finds new purpose in her life following the death of her husband.

Meet Rosemary – The First Date

Colleen Chesebro #Poetry Challenge -#Tanka

Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves.

Cafe and Bookstore – Update

The first of two posts on Arthritis. This week Rheumatoid arthritis that takes its toll on organs of the body.

Jacqui Murray, One Spoiled Cat, Callum McLauhglin

Alison Williams, Beetley Pete, D.G. Kaye..

C.S. Boyack, Lisa Burton, Robbie Cheadle, Annette Rochelle Aben, Sue Vincent with Dorinda Duclos

Halloween Special with contributions from D.G. Kaye.. Debby Gies

Guest comedian D.G. Kaye shares some funnies she has discovered recently.

I hope you have enjoyed the recap and will join me again next week. I will be starting the Christmas promotional posts soon and news of a few more opportunities to party….Thanks for all your support.. Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – A- Z of Common Conditions – Arthritis – Rheumatoid

I know that many of you who follow the blog will have seen the arthritis posts before but it is now two years since these posts and for those new to Smorgasbord, I hope you find useful.

There is no doubt that for most people once they are into their 50’s they might experience pain associated with movement. We tend to think only in terms of two types of arthritis. Rheumatoid and Osteo- Arthritis but as you will see that is not the case.

To be specific there are nearly 200 different forms of arthritis but the most common that we suffer from, particularly as we get older are Rheumatoid, Osteo and gout. I will cover Osteo- Arthritis and Gout week. Although my main focus is on the foods to avoid and those to include in your diet, I will in the next posts talk about some of the alternative therapies that may help this condition.

First let’s talk about the most common of the arthritis conditions.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an auto immune disease in which the joints, usually those of the hands and feet are inflamed. (Arthritis comes from the Greek word ‘arthron’ which means joints). This results in swelling, pain and often the eventual destruction of the joints interior.

I am sure most of you have heard of James Coburn the actor. It was obvious; as he appeared in films as he got older, that he was suffering from the disease. His hands became very deformed and he suffered from the problem in most of the joints in his body.In fact in his case it was hereditary as his father suffered from the same condition.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is the most common inflammatory disease and is suffered world-wide and affects approximately 1% of adults. It is usually accompanied by extreme fatigue, weight loss and in many cases depression. People can suffer from it in a mild form for many years and never reach the crippling stage as in James Coburn’s case; but millions do have to put up with symptoms that can be anything from discomfort to extreme and constant pain.

This is where our normally healthy immune system seems to go into overdrive. For some reason it attacks the tissue that lines and cushions the joints (the technical term for this tissue is glycosaminoglycans)

Internal damage from rheumatoid arthritis

With this form of arthritis it is not just the bone structure and joints that can be affected. Internally our major organs also affected by the inflammatory properties of the disease.

The Heart. Fluid collects around the heart (pericardial effusion) in some cases of rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms are mild usually but can become severe over time leading to various heart related conditions. The heart muscle, valves and blood vessels can be affected and heart attacks are more common in people suffering from this form of arthritis. To help prevent this, a diet that maintains a healthy LDL/HDL cholesterol balance and regular check-ups is recommended. You will find the posts on cholesterol in the Health Column

Kidneys and Liver. These organs are more likely to be affected by the medication that is prescribed for the condition and along with the digestive system, need to be monitored.

The Lungs Fluid collecting (pleural effusion) around one or both the lungs restricts breathing, not only uncomfortable but also can restrict the uptake of oxygen and the removal of waste products. Chest infections are more common in rheumatoid arthritis sufferers and again a regular check-up is important. Deep breathing exercises just for five minutes a day can help keep the lungs flexible and improve breathing but if you find yourself becoming breathless after mild exertion then do go and see your doctor as it could mean that there is fluid around either the heart or the lungs.

What are the main causes of rheumatoid arthritis – Is it always hereditary?

It is not always hereditary. About three times as many women suffer from rheumatoid arthritis as men and whilst there is a school of thought that considers that there may be a link to food intolerances my experience has been that there is a link between Candida Albicans and this form of arthritis. Again you can find all the Candida posts in the directory so that you can check the symptoms and triggers for this condition. Health Column

Apart from antibiotics that obviously both men and women take, there are other drugs and hormonal changes that only a woman would be exposed to. HRT and the Pill have been suggested as a link to the onset of Candida. If you look at a woman’s reproductive cycle and if she starts her periods at 12 – goes on the pill for a few years until she is ready to have children – has 4 babies in 10 years and then at age 50 goes on HRT for 10 years then you will see that hormonally she has been very active as well as exposed to artificial hormone replacement. To my mind this may be one of the reasons why women are more prone to Rheumatoid Arthritis.

This is an autoimmune disease where the immune system has lost its ability to tell the difference between friend and enemy hence it is attacking healthy cells in the body. These cells are the carbohydrate molecules in the tissue in the joints. If the patient already has a Candida overgrowth the immune system will be working overtime to protect the body from this parasitic invasion. It makes sense to me that any cells that might resemble this parasite in any form might also get included in the immune systems clean-up operation.

I do know that there has been a marked improvement in some of my clients’ arthritis symptoms when they have been treated for Candida. Another area that is not proven, but I have seen some examples of, are where people living outside of their genetic environment and eating a very different diet to their ancestral one, are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis; showing improvement when they revert back to their cultural diet.

I worked with two South American clients who had moved to Ireland in their 20’s. Once in their late 30’s, both of them developed arthritis. One of the sisters became so bad that she was on steroids and could barely walk down the road. I worked with her and established what sort of diet she would have had if she had been still living in her own country. After reverting back to the food that she ate until she reached the age of 24, in six weeks she was able to walk and eventually come off her medication. With the agreement of course of her doctor.

You have to remember that if you live in a particular environment and your ancestry is based in the environment for thousands of years your body will have adapted to a certain dietary and nutrient requirement based on what is available. If you were to take an Eskimo from his environment 20 years ago before fast food reached his home, and introduced him to a western diet he would have become malnourished and probably ill. His system would have been used to processing fat for most of his requirements – no sugar – no vegetables or fruit but he would have been supremely healthy. Give him what we consider to be a healthy diet and he would fall ill. So environment – changes in diet and stress could cause problems such as arthritis.

What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?

You might start to notice some stiffness in your finger and toe joints – perhaps just in one. It is common for small nodules to appear under the skin close to an affected joint and this might be one of the first indications of the disease externally. You will find that it is a symmetrical disease that affects the same joint on either side of the body.

You might also feel very tired – have skin rashes and some breathing problems as tissue internally becomes affected. As you will have read there are some dangers to your general health if the condition is not corrected. We tend to see the external joint disfiguration but not the internal damage to things like our lungs and heart. Do not regard as a normal sign of aging and dismiss. Go and get it checked out.

What are the steps we can take to improve the condition?

Obviously if you are under medication from the doctor for arthritis you must not take yourself off these without consulting them first. Also if you decide that you are going to take some of the alternative treatments available then you must also check with them first to make sure that there will not be an adverse reaction. Most of the remedies that I have used personally have not had any side effects but everyone is different.

Firstrest is important. Do not try and overdo things, as you will feel tired. Having said that there is some benefit in doing gentle exercise, particularly walking and swimming as the stronger your muscles are the less strain on your joints. Moderate exercise will also help your breathing by keeping your lungs flexible and also your heart by exercising the muscle. Again, do check with your doctor before beginning any exercise programme if you are suffering from any disease.

Nutritional link to Rheumatoid Arthritis

redpeppersThere are a number of foods that can cause a problem – Mainly the nightshade family such as raw tomatoes and peppers, aubergines and potatoes. However, I think it is important at this point to return to the Candida link and by association the consumption of refined sugars. I am convinced that this is one of the major causes of this disease and so following the anti-Candida regime is probably as healthy a diet you can have. Avoiding sugars including Alcohol on a consistent basis will make a difference. I am not suggesting that you give anything up for life but certainly for at least 6 weeks to two months while you are effectively detoxing your body, you need to remove processed foods and sugars from your diet.

Your body needs as much help as possible so this is where eating a diet comprising all fresh ingredients cooked from scratch is very important. The less industrially produced foods the better.

vegetablesAnti-oxidants. Lots of fresh vegetables – Plenty of fluids particularly water to make sure that you are properly hydrated. A healthy fat diet rich in fish for the Omega 3 is excellent. Use olive oil for cooking and make sure that your diet is rich in vitamin C.

Lean protein and wholegrains provide you with the B-vitamins including B5 – Pantothenic Acid and if vegetarian then do make sure that you are including mushrooms which are an excellent source of most of them. NB. Many therapists will take you off all mushrooms but recent research has identified that despite being a fungus it is not the food of choice for the fungal Candida.. It prefers sugar!  Eating mushrooms should have no effect on your Candida levels and I eat them very regularly.

One of the Candida posts in the directory has a shopping list which is useful.  It does contain potatoes and tomatoes which may have an effect on arthritis but it is only likely if you are eating every day.. I suggest that you remove  potatoes, raw tomatoes (I have found less of a problem with cooked tomatoes), red peppers and aubergines for the first six weeks and then re-introduce one at a time over the next four weeks and monitor your symptoms. They are also a wonderful source of nutrients and I am very reluctant to lose them from a diet completely. Eaten once or twice a week, should not cause a problem.

Hope you have found this useful and would be delighted for your feedback. Thanks for dropping by Sally

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998- 2018

My nutritional background

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

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

Smorgasbord Health Column Rewind – A to Z Common Health Issues – #Acne #Skin

I have had a few emails in recent weeks about acne and some of the more common conditions that we might encounter in our lifetime. I last posted the series two years ago and since many of you are new to the blog since then… I thought it might be useful to repeat the series.


Acne is the curse of the teen years and also as we go through hormonal changes later in life.. There is also a strong link to diet, especially the the over indulgence in sugars.

Some organs play a major role in our survival and others can be removed without impacting our general health in any significant way. As we have evolved, so an organ’s function may have changed to accommodate our modern environment, especially if their role is protective as in the case of the liver and the elimination of toxins. In this polluted world our body is under increasing stress and keeping the individual organs healthy ensures the general well-being of the entire body.

The skin

The skin in in fact our largest organ and weighs 12% to 15% of our body weight and has three vital roles to play. It protects us from external contaminants, acts as a temperature and moisture controller and is essential in the elimination of waste products.

There is a complex structure to our skin that is invisible to the naked eye and apart from slapping a bit of moisturiser on last thing at night; most of us are unaware of the crucial role that it plays in our general health.

Because of the skin’s role in the elimination of waste products and as a barrier to external contaminants it comes under increasing stress as we get older. Free radicals attack it from the outside from chemicals in household cleaners, cigarette smoke, pollution and ultra-violet light. From the inside it is the victim of a poor diet low in essential fatty acids, processed foods, food intolerances and toxins produced from an inefficient and under nourished operating system.

Some of the signs of skin under stress are acne, cold sores, eczema, psoriasis, hives, impetigo, shingles, warts and of course wrinkles. Today I am going to be covering acne, a bane for teenagers but can also come back to haunt us in our middle years as we go through another hormonal change.


I remember as a teenager getting a few spots at certain times of the month but was thankfully clear of major acne outbreaks. I did have a friend at school that was devastatingly affected by the condition and when you are a 16 year old girl or boy it can have a detrimental impact on not just your physical appearance but also your mental and emotional health.


Let’s face it, spots that are on your back and covered up on your arms are unsightly and irritating but if your face is covered in blackheads, whiteheads and scarring then it can result in lack of self-esteem that can last for years afterwards. In severe cases acne can lead to severe depression, withdrawal from both school and social activities and suicide.
Unfortunately even when the acne has departed in can leave scarring which varies in severity and often because it is deep and pitted it remains for a lifetime. The reason that it is so deep is because of the inflammation in the dermal layer of the skin which heals abnormally leaving the pitted surface.

The numbers across the western world when added together make acne the 8th common disease in the world. It is estimated that it affects over 80% of teenagers adding up to a huge 600 million people worldwide.

There are a number of suspected causes and I will take a brief look at these.


Most of us will associate spots that appeared during our teen years with hormonal changes after puberty. Sex hormones called androgens result in several changes within the body but also in the skin. The trillions of pores on the surface of our skin are really minute openings into canals called follicles. In each follicle you will find a hair and a sebaceous (oil) gland. This helps keep our skin supple and hydrated and also assists in the disposal of old skin cells that we are shedding continuously.

At puberty and for girls each month the surge of hormones results in a change in the follicle causing them to grow larger and produce more oil. Whilst this affects both sexes in the teen years it also affects women who become pregnant at any age or who suffer from PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). PCOS is caused by a woman producing too many of the male androgens affecting her menstrual cycle and ability to become pregnant.

With teenagers it is not just the increase in androgens such as testosterone which can cause acne. At that age there is a growth spurt particularly in boys that can take place between the ages of 16 and 24 and the hormone responsible for this is GH or HGH.

Additionally IGF-1 is a hormone that is similar in structure to Insulin and plays a role in growth in both teenagers and later with a different affect in adults can result in a similar response.

It is unusual for acne to develop after the body has completed its growth cycle in the early to mid-twenties.


It is believed that around 75% of acne could be genetic which is supported by studies with twins and also with immediate family members. Polygenic inheritance pattern controls our height, skin colour, eye colour and also it is believed our weight. Rather than just one gene being involved it requires a combination of two or more genes to affect these characteristics. Certain genes have now been identified that could be related to acne and that is an ongoing study.

This genetic link is reinforced by the incidences of severe acne associated with a dysfunctional immune system. This is not lifestyle related but an inherent over sensitivity to bacteria that results in an unusually aggressive immune system response. When bacteria are detected by the body the immune system produces large amounts of inflammatory cytokines. These induce white blood cells to unleash destructive enzymes and free radicals into the site of infection. Because this response is unusually aggressive it can cause damage to the surrounding tissue. This in turn results in another release of cytokines and it becomes a perpetual cycle resulting in long term inflammation and of course the associated acne. In this type of environment bacteria thrive rather than be killed off.

With the other form of genetic dysfunctional immune response the white cells themselves are under powered and do not have the ability to deal with any harmful bacteria that they encounter. Usually white blood cells work on the principal of divide and conquer, they are designed to ingest any bacteria they come across, isolating the bacteria in a special casing called a phagosome and then pumping toxic enzymes inside to kill it. It is then broken up into small particles that are absorbed back into the immune system. The system then takes these particles and designs anti-bodies that will be able to fight future infections of this bacteria.

In a faulty immune system the white cell takes in the bacteria but is not equipped to kill them adequately. They keep trying however, exhausting themselves in the process and dying. This releases the bacteria still alive and allows it to thrive. It also means that the immune system does not get the chance to develop anti-bodies to fight that particular strain of bacteria leading to long term infections.

The most common of the bacterial infections associated with acne is Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) is a bacteria that grows deep inside of pores where it obtains its energy from the oil in the follicle canal. It is anaerobic which means that unlike most bacteria it is tolerant to oxygen so the low oxygen, oil rich environment of the follicle is perfect for its growth. Because it forms clumps of bacteria it can block and protect itself within the canal leading to persistent infections into the 20s and beyond. Unfortunately the bacteria have become resistant to a number of the anti-biotics used to treat acne including Penicillin.


There have been many assumptions made over the years about acne and its causes. Including the fact that some teenagers do not have a close relationship with cleanliness, that poor diet full of fats and sugars is to blame and the habit of the young today to spend more time indoors rather than out in the fresh air. In reality I believe there is an element of all of these factors involved. And in particular the increase in the use of both male and female facial and body beauty products.

Today we are spoiled for choice when we buy skin products in the pharmacies, supermarkets and online. The prices also vary from very cheap to extremely expensive but unfortunately whilst simple is better, cheap may not be so. Many cheap skin products have ingredients that could irritate skin further. This also applies for make-up that teenage girls are going to use to cover up spots and scars.

Most acne prescribed medication is designed to dry up the oil that feed the bacteria and may be causing the outbreak in the first place. This can result in dry and flaky skin and irritated patches.

The temptation is to buy moisturisers that are heavy and greasy to counteract the dryness but it is better when suffering from acne to use a light weight moisturiser with ingredients such as glycerine that will not clog your pores with more grease. Avoid those that have ingredients such as cocoa butter for example.

Use clean towels every day and dab your face rather than rub to dry.

Change your pillow case every two days.. turning it over in the night between so that it is fresh.

The one lifestyle activity which is definitely implicated in causing skin irritation and increasing the chances of acne is smoking.

You might find the following daily cleansing ritual helpful.

A mild cleanser for the face (ask advice on your skin type) Using your fingers gently massage the skin for a few minutes. Wipe off the excess  with a clean cotton wool wipe. Then rinse your face in lukewarm warm water to remove all the lotion. Pat the skin dry and then apply the light moisturiser. You can use a mild exfoliant (and I mean mild) once or twice a week which can be helpful in cleaning the skin slightly more thoroughly.

These days there are a lot of products on the market but do be careful about just buying off the shelf. Ask advice from a pharmacist and check for side effects.


There are a number of prescribed medications available now to treat acne including topical creams. Antibiotics are also prescribed but there is a danger that this will then create a resistance to future antibiotics if over used. For girls sometimes being prescribed birth control pills can regulate hormone levels reducing the surge of hormones each month. I do advice however that you do not self-medicate by buying products online. Get professional guidance and if you add to your acne scarring by using the wrong product it will stay with you for life.

Alternative therapies.

My go to essential oil for skincare across all ages is Frankincense and earlier in the year I covered its benefits…Frankincense

You must be extremely careful with your skin as whilst it does a very tough job it is also very delicate. I have found that taking Echinacea for six weeks at a time may help boost immune system function Echinacea

Also you may find taking Grapefruit seed extract to help control an overgrowth of Candida Albicans, which as a fungal infection of the intestines, does impact the efficiency of the immune system.

Topically, apart from the cleansing regime I have already mentioned, you may find that a couple of drops of tea tree oil  mixed with your morning and night time moisturiser may also help kill off the bacteria. Do monitor and if it causes any irritation or redness of the skin stop using.

In addition to echinacea other herbal remedies can be useful for skin complaints including Saw Palmetto and Agnus Castus to help normalise hormonal levels. If you are considering taking any herbal remedy I do suggest that you talk to a qualified assistant in your local health food shop.. They should have received training in the uses for any of their products but do ask first.


The fact that the incidences of acne is certain cultures that are not exposed to the less healthy aspects of our western diet is virtually non-existent, leads to the assumption that sugars, trans fats and other additives in our food are contributing to acne. It also confirms of course the genetic link to the disease especially when those populations have remained isolated.

As you will have seen there is a genetic link to a dysfunctional immune system that results in persistent acne but there are also dietary and lifestyle related immune system issues that need to be addressed with a balanced diet and exercise.

It is tough when you are a teenager to stick to a really healthy diet when your friends are enjoying burgers, pizzas and other great tasting food. Nobody wants to be the odd person out but tough as it is, it is so important to eat a mainly fresh unprocessed diet with lots of vegetables and fruits with the antioxidants needed for a healthy immune system and of course skin health. Also lean protein and good fats and most importantly plenty of water to keep the skin hydrated.

It is more likely to be sugars rather than healthy fat that is causing food related outbreaks.

Foods that might be helpful in cleansing the body of toxins and therefore reducing the triggers for acne include the following: beetroot, artichoke, hot water and lemon juice first thing in the morning, beans such as chickpeas which helps moderate hormone excretion, fresh vegetables of any kind and fruits such as oranges which are high in Vitamin C. Dried apricots are a good snack as well as nuts and seeds containing zinc which is good for skin healing. Vitamin E is also essential for skin health and having half an avocado on a salad or on its own daily will provide you with that vitamin and healthy fat.


One of the key factors of ridding the body of toxins is drinking water and this also helps prevent the skin from becoming dry and even more irritated.

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998- 2018

My nutritional background

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

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


Smorgasbord Health Column – Food in the News – Organic produce and reduction in Cancer rates.

There has been a lot of controversial reports on the benefits of buying organic produce. The issues have mainly been around price and whether there was any health benefit to eating organically. Clearly mass producers of fruit and vegetables around the world have taken any opportunity to knock organic growers, particularly local producers who are classed as amateurs. But in a recent study in France, evidence does point towards a significant reduction in cancer rates in those who consume organic produce.

I love farmer’s markets, and will always buy organic produce where I can. I was brought up in the country and our fresh fruit and vegetables were picked or harvested and on the table within a matter of a couple of days. Today much of the fruit (especially out of season) can be months old. The same can be said for vegetables that have traveled thousands of miles before being packed in plastic on the supermarket shelves. Unfortunately, this also impacts their nutritional content. How fresh are your supermarket apples

At least today regulations demand that country of origin be displayed somewhere on the packaging, but good luck with finding the small print without a magnifying glass.

Some supermarkets will make it a strategy to use local produce and Tesco here in Ireland does source both fresh produce, dairy and meats where possible from Irish farmers.

In the largest study of its kind Daily Mail, 70,000 French men and women who answered a questionnaire indicating that they ate only organic produce, have been followed for 7 years. The results so far indicate that there is a significant reduction in overall cancer rates, although bowel cancer and prostate cancer do not appear to be reduced. This may be because there is a genetic or other lifestyle element that impacts the results.

“Eating only organic food could slash cancer risk, a new study claims.

The biggest impact was seen on non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma risk, which plummeted among those who only ate organic, according to the survey of nearly 70,000 French adults. Overall, their risks of breast cancer also dropped.

The finding comes amid a flurry of interest in the cancer risks of pesticides, spurred by this summer’s Monsanto trial, when a jury awarded a cancer-suffering groundsman $250 million after concluding that Roundup weedkiller caused his cancer.”

However, one cancer that plummeted according to the report was non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma which is understandable as it is a cancer of the immune system. Lymph nodes are clusters of the white blood cells lymphocytes (B cells and T cells) and are dotted around the body in the chest, abdomen and pelvis and they are linked by special vessels to form a closed system much like the bloodstream. This means that there is lymph tissue in several of the major organs of the body, particularly the spleen and bone marrow which are essential to our immune system function. Cancer in the form of lymphomas can form in any of these sites and be transported around the body in the lymphatic system.  With a compromised immune system it is impossible to fight off even the mildest of infections.

The other area of high risk is neurological and here is an abstract taken from a research study on the impact on our brains and nervous system. The full report can be read HERE

Poisoning by acute high-level exposure to certain pesticides has well-known neurotoxic effects, but whether chronic exposure to moderate levels of pesticides is also neurotoxic is more controversial. Most studies of moderate pesticide exposure have found increased prevalence of neurologic symptoms and changes in neurobehavioral performance, reflecting cognitive and psychomotor dysfunction. There is less evidence that moderate exposure is related to deficits in sensory or motor function or peripheral nerve conduction, but fewer studies have considered these outcomes. It is possible that the most sensitive manifestation of pesticide neurotoxicity is a general malaise lacking in specificity and related to mild cognitive dysfunction, similar to that described for Gulf War syndrome. Most studies have focused on organophosphate insecticides, but some found neuro-toxic effects from other pesticides, including fungicides, fumigants, and organochlorine and carbamate insecticides. Pesticide exposure may also be associated with increased risk of Parkinson disease; several classes of pesticides, including insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides, have been implicated. Studies of other neurodegenerative diseases are limited and inconclusive. Future studies will need to improve assessment of pesticide exposure in individuals and consider the role of genetic susceptibility. More studies of pesticides other than organophosphates are needed. Major unresolved issues include the relative importance of acute and chronic exposure, the effect of moderate exposure in the absence of poisoning, and the relationship of pesticide-related neurotoxicity to neurodegenerative disease.

Research and fake news.

Whilst the increase in age related dementia, and an increase in cancers, can be attributed to better diagnosis and reporting, there is no doubt in my mind that lifestyle is the major factor and cause of these diseases. There is a genetic link to some neurological diseases and cancer, but our bodies are being exposed to many carcinogens created by modern mass farming methods, food production, packaging and additives including chemicals, hormones and antibiotics.

Most research into disease is commissioned by interested parties. Within the food industry there is billions spent on research programmes annually to prove or disprove links to health and to counteract fake news put out by competing parties. It is not helped when official guardians of our health are less that open about findings and they change their guidelines on carbohydrates, protein and fats at the drop of a hat!

Also the majority of the participants are not ideal test subjects. I am not convinced that they are screened to the fullest extent required to take part in the trial, since most people are not entirely honest about what they ingest or imbibe or about past lifestyle choices. This means that the results of their participation have to be skewed. This is why I rarely report on research that does not have substantive participation such as this French study of 70,000 over a decent interval of 7 years.

The other point is that some of the effects of pesticides and other chemicals may take many years to manifest themselves. Particularly in relation to neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease and Dementia. We should be looking at 30 to 50 year research studies which would be more conclusive.

Also of concern is that we only have 5 year human trials for medication to counteract these diseases, which may well have their own long term side-effects, not apparent until we reach our 70s or 80s.


My conclusion is that at whatever age you are, changing to organic produce such as vegetables and fruit, locally sourced and unpackaged is an important first step.

The second step which is equally important is to cook from scratch whenever possible using the 80/20 rule to limit exposure to manufactured food products.

Third step is to trust your gut… literally. If you react to certain foods then don’t eat them. D.G. Kaye contributed to the Health Column recently about her 20 years of managing her Crohn’s Disease. If you have been suffering from IBS or other intestinal problems then you will find this useful. Dietary restrictions, consequences and the eye rollers

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998- 2018

My nutritional background

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

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




Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – Book Launch, Fats Waller, Royalty and #Halloween recipes plus the usual #stars

It has been a busy week but highly enjoyable as I began the process of sharing my new book Tales from the Irish Garden. Not just online but getting prepared to send out to local media and radio stations here. It is 17 years since I published my first book here in Ireland and it would be lovely to make a bit of  a splash. We shall see how it goes.

In the meantime I am very grateful to some very generous friends who have hosted me in the last week with post on various subjects and also with their interviews and reviews.

D.G. Kaye posted her review of Tales from the Irish Garden with some questions to put me on the spot!

You can read Debby ‘s review and interview here:

And Colleen Chesebro posted her review of the book on Wednesday adding some of her fairy dust to the proceedings.

You can read the review here:

Author Jacquie Biggar kindly let me explore the subject of romance and some of the key elements that I feel stand the test of time.

You can read the post here:

Lovely to have William Price King back again now that he has a little more free time as we have missed him. He will be back every two weeks with iconic jazz musicians and this week he shared the life and music of the legendary Fats Waller.

For those of us who have become fans of The Crown series on the British royal family, another reminder of how vulnerable members of any royal family can be, even before the age of the paparazzi. For some their reign came to a tragic end. Paul Andruss on Cabbages and Kings.

Carol Taylor shares some recipes for those trick or treaters who might get cold and hungry when out knocking on doors… Halloween warmers…

Guest writer author and poet Balroop Singh, with what I think is a very relevant poem. We should all rise up and listen to the call….

The Music Column – We head to New Zealand but encounter plane drama, but go gold panning and jet boating and dinner in the treetops.. request this week from Adele Marie Park and music from Kylie Minogue

It is that time of the week again, when Colleen Chesebro challenges us to get our syllables and synonyms lined up… and I am going out on a limb today with my first Etheree….You can participate Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 106

The first story is about Martha.. who is a personal assistant who goes above and beyond for her boss.

The second story is about Norman... a former soldier who has been moved from his home into a block of flats where life in in a downward spiral.. can he bring the community together.

I am sure that you  have seen a number of reports on the shutting down of Google+ social network following its cover up of a breach in March this year, resulting in the exposure of the personal data of up to 500,000 internet users. They say that no sensitive data such as bank details or other private information was at risk, but any exposure of private information such as name, address, date of birth, past employment history, photographs or current activities, lends itself to identity theft and fraud.

However, this process according to the tech reports is going to take ten months, and from my perspective the rot has already set in.

In this post I show you how to minimise your exposure in your settings and the ones here on WordPress.

Cafe and Bookstore New on the Shelves

Cafe and Bookstore Update #Reviews

Blogger Daily

The Book Designer, Leslie Tate and Robbie and Michael Cheadle.

Anne R. Allen, Shelley Wilson and Sharon Ledworth.

Mae Clair, Jill Dennison and Teri Polen

Stevie Turner, Seumas Gallacher and Katzenworld.


Pamela Wight, Geoffrey West and Traci Kenworth

It is time to update the bed bug post from last year, as this longer and dryer summer has resulted in a rise in reported infestations in the US and in the UK.

Here is a look at some of the statistics on for the US compiled from the  2018 Bugs Without Borders survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association

Humour and Afternoon Videos



Smorgasbord Health Column – Time to revisit the #BedBug Infestations! – Unwanted bedmates!

It is time to update the bed bug post from last year, as this longer and dryer summer has resulted in a rise in reported infestations in the US and in the UK.

Here is a look at some of the statistics on for the US compiled from the  2018 Bugs Without Borders survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association

  • Almost all (97 percent) pest professionals have treated bed bugs in the past year. A majority of them say that overall bed bug service work (69 percent) and the prevalence of these pests (66 percent) are increasing.
  • Bed bugs may be easily confused with other pests, as 84 percent of pest control professionals were initially contacted about a different type of pest before identifying them as bed bugs. The majority of these contacts (71 percent) were about fleas, followed by cockroaches (28 percent).
  • More than half of pest control professionals noted that they receive the most bed bug complaints during the summer, as increased travel during this time of the year may help spread bed bugs from vacation destinations to homes or even college lodgings to homes as students go on summer break.
  • The top three places where pest professionals report finding bed bugs are single-family homes (91 percent), apartments/condominiums (89 percent), and hotels/motels (68 percent). Past surveys have shown these environments to consistently be the top three where bed bugs have been encountered.
  • Bed bugs are also found seemingly everywhere else and in higher numbers, such as nursing homes (59 percent), schools and daycare centers (47 percent), offices (46 percent), college dorms (45 percent), hospitals (36 percent) and public transportation (19 percent).
  • Bites are the most commonly reported sign of an infestation (92 percent) and more than half of people reach out for treatment after discovering bites and welts on their bodies. Although some people immediately develop a skin reaction to bites, others may take two to three days before showing obvious symptoms or any symptoms at all, meaning that people could be unaware of a bed bug problem until a full-blown infestation has taken root.
  • Typically found in couches and bed frames, bed bugs can also be found in some of the most unexpected places, including stuffed animals, wheelchairs, airplanes, school buses, purses and even inside bedside lamps.

And this article in the UK Guardian a couple of months ago Bedbug plague hits British Cities

The UK is facing an exponential increase in bedbug infestation as a result of this summer’s hot weather, which is exacerbating a major problem in densely populated cities, experts are warning.

In higher temperatures, the reproductive cycle of the bugs – Cimex lectularius – shortens from 18-21 days to eight or nine days, according to David Cain, of extermination company Bed Bugs Limited.

The problem is compounded by social stigma which often results in a reluctance to seek help, and because a significant proportion of the population have no physical reaction to bedbug bites so may be unaware of an infestation. “The problem has been spreading globally since the late 1990s, and there is literally no country on the face of the planet that hasn’t had a bedbug problem,” said Cain.

You can read the rest of the article here: Bedbug Plague

I must admit to being paranoid about sleeping in beds other than my own. Before everybody becomes hot under the collar I do mean this in in terms of hygiene…..

Unfortunately, many of us are sharing our bed with more than the partner of our choice and these invisible bedfellows are very much more difficult to get rid of…

Bed bugs have been part of our human life cycle for hundreds of years if not thousands. They love warm blood and will infest areas close to that source of nourishment including in seams and cracks in the mattress, in furniture and soft furnishings close to a bed and in seams of duvets and bed-linen.

I am paranoid about staying hotels when travelling and part of my luggage is my first defence…this video should not be watched before you eat… or before going to bed!!!

The infestations are on the increase, and even the swankiest of hotels are not guaranteed to be without these freeloading guests. Our modern travel habits ensure that suit cases and clothing, travelling with us between continents, can carry the bugs without detection from one bed to another. We now travel to more and more destinations, some of which have extremely high incidences of bed bug infestations particularly at the lower end of the accommodation price range such as hostels. Whilst the cost may be attractive you may be taking away more than the complimentary soap and shampoo.

Most of the pesticides from the early 50’s that were used against these pests were banned, quite rightly, because of their effect on humans. Although more modern extermination methods have been developed, in the intervening years the bugs have had time to develop resistance to certain chemicals.

If you have unexplained rashes particularly that you cannot identify it might be worth checking some of the sites for photographs of bedbug bites. Usually uniform in size and rather random they will have a conformity to the groupings.

There is no evidence that the bites themselves have any long term health implications but they are very itchy and after several nights of disrupted sleep you will be putting yourself at risk of general health problems such as minor infections.

Bed bugs  live in the rest of the house too – particularly where you might sit all the time to watch television or eat meals etc. The expression spring clean, where the whole house was turned upside down once a year, is still a great idea but I do suggest that you also do an autumn clean, because with the colder weather other bugs will find your house an attractive and warm hideout for the winter months.

What can we do to prevent bed bugs in the home?

It is a good idea to keep your bedroom as clutter free as possible. Get the vacuum out regularly even with wood floors and move the bed so that you can suck up all the dust and bugs that might be living in cracks. Make sure that you include soft furnishings such as curtains.

When you wash bed linens do so in a hot wash with a good quality detergent but insure you have an adequate rinse cycle.Then dry on very high heat in the tumble dryer for 40 to 45 minutes.

I try to time the linen change with sunshine and spread out both bottom sheets, duvet covers and pillow cases over the backs of metal chairs (without soft cushioning) in the direct sunlight for an hour.

Before replacing linen I suggest vacuuming the mattress taking care around the seams. It is also good for the life of a mattress to turn over from time to time.

Make sure that you do all the beds in the house at the same time so that you decrease the risk of them travelling throughout the house from one bedroom to the other.

It is at this point that I should mention that those of us who adore our animals and allow them to get on the bed with us from time to time or to sleep on the bed at night are at risk of also inviting their particular companions into bed too. Fleas and mites love a little human snack from time to time and keeping your pet free of them is important for their health and yours. This makes the laundering of bed linen even more important and I also find that the following natural product that I use helps with both bed bugs and other parasites.

I am not keen on chemical based household products unless absolutely necessary. For the last 20 years I have been using Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) an oil made from the crushed seeds of the grapefruit. I use all the time and recommend to others as it has anti-bacterial, and microbe properties and is great for fungal infections internally and externally. Its household uses are as varied including as a water purifier and a natural vegetable and fruit wash.

For a bug spray you need to use a garden spray bottle with a fine nozzle. Mix 20 to 25 drops with water to fill the bottle. Spray the mattress including the seams, soft furnishings including curtains every couple of months – let it dry and remake the bed with the clean linen.

Here are a couple of links to sites with information both on bedbugs and GSE.

You can find a number of brands of Grapefruit Seed Extract on Amazon or in your local health food store.

I hope this has not put you off your breakfast or whichever meal you might be indulging in right now….

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998- 2018

My nutritional background

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

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

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – St. Kitts, Mother Sauces, Family Drama, Music, Short Stories and Humout

Welcome to the weekly round up and October has raced in with high winds and very high seas in the Irish Channel… Thankfully not bringing the devastation suffered by residents in Florida and along that coastline. But in Ireland the weather does not get us down for long and wellington boots are to be found in all our porches, and sometimes put into service around the house.

The nights are drawing in, and just as the sun goes down we are treated to a visit from hundreds of crows who gather on the electricity lines. We had to take out three 30 foot trees that were undermining the outside wall to the garden facing the road, with roots beginning to cause the pavement to crack. We think these trees might possibly have been a roost for many years for one of the murders of crows in the area and they still return to glare through the windows at us.

Unfortunately from a safety perspective we had no choice, and certainly after the hurricane last year when many trees like ours fell across roads and caused damage, it was necessary. However, they have got their own back by stomping around, cackling and picking the moss of the roof and throwing it all over the back yard at sunrise.. which in the summer is about 5.00 am.  Here they are gathering at dusk. In the next week or so this patch of ground, will welcome a brand new lawn and the garden will be finished.

Anyway.. on with the posts from the week. And as always my thanks to the regular contributors and guest writers who have shared their talent. And to you for dropping in and supporting the guests and my posts. It is much appreciated.

Over the last few months the news that the 5.0 WordPress release would include the Gutenberg editing platform, has caused a lot of uncertainty with recommendations to upgrade to be able to install a plug-in so you could still use the Classic Editor etc. I asked for clarification this week and was delighted with the response.. including a screenshot, that for bloggers at least.. there will be the option to choose when adding a new post. Thank goodness for that..


Welcome to the October edition of the Travel Column with D.G. Kaye. This month we’re going to another small, beautiful and still developing Caribbean island – Saint Kitts.

This week Carol Taylor takes us through the five basic or mother sauces that every cook will find useful.

Linda Bethea shares the lengths to which her two grandma’s would go to annoy each other…delighted that Linda will be sharing more about her family on a more regular basis.

Getting to Know You Sunday Interview – Author Jaye Marie

A lovely poem from Joy Lennick on the Third Season ( A Poem for Autumn)

Talent runs in the Lennick family, and Jason Lennick shares some entertaining recollections of life growing up.

Jason is halfbananas

A short story with a very important message from author Andrew Joyce

I am enjoying gathering my syllables and participating in Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 105.

Smorgasbord Book Reviews

Smorgasbord Short Stories What’s in a Name? Volume II

Kenneth – A Love for Life

Lily – The Collector

Houston and Chester 1986/1987 and Dirty Dancing… also requests from Robbie Cheadle and D.G. Kaye.

New book on the shelves

Cafe updates

Blogger Daily and Meet the #Reviewers

Jennie Fitzkee, Balroop Singh and Nicholas Rossis

D.G. Kaye, Carol Taylor, and Jane Bwye.

Sue Vincent, Judith Barrow and Lizanne Lloyd.

Jean Lee, Shehanne Moore, Beetley Pete and Nicholas Rossis.

Anne Copeland, Carol Taylor and Evie Gaughan

An immune boosting eating programme to help prevent and recover from the flu.

One of the herbs that may help you ward off the flu and other infections is goldenseal.

Humour and afternoon video

Cat humour and a joke..Part One.

Cat Humour and a joke Part Two.