Smorgasbord Health Column – Turning Back the Clock 2021 – Part Seven – Anti-Aging and Attitude of Mind by Sally Cronin


Sixteen years ago I had a series on radio called Turning Back the Clock, which I presented in response to listeners in their 50’s and 60’s looking for rejuvenation and tips on staying young. Like me they were exasperated by the claims of the cosmetic industry that the various ingredients in their products could knock ten years off their age. I was asked to design a diet that would help reverse the signs of aging and this developed into a weekly challenge that was undertaken by nearly 100 listeners. The series became a book in 2010.

I try to practice what I preach!  And certainly so far I have managed to maintain healthy key indicators such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cholesterol without medication, much to the surprise of my doctor!

In my opinion the answer to turning back the clock by several years is to consider and address a number of factors which include physical, emotional and mental age markers.

Link to part to Part Six and how correct breathing can bring multi-benefits to the body as we age: Here

Are you in danger of becoming an old fogey!!

What do emotional factors have to do with anti-aging?

It is sometimes difficult to see the changing image of ourselves in the mirror as we grow older. This applies not just to women but to men as well.

There are physical signs that our bodies are getting more mature; thickening waistlines, sagging skin, cellulite wrinkles and of course grey hair. If you have always taken pride in your appearance and looked after yourself, these visible signs of the passing years can be difficult to deal with.

This is why plastic surgery, cosmetics companies, hair salons and anti-aging clinics do such great business. Billions and billions a year are now being spent on recapturing our youth and as we have seen in photographs in the press, the results are not always successful.

Of course there are people who are quite happy with their changing image and that is fantastic. Accepting the stage that you are physically in your life is very liberating. Letting your hair grow grey, flaunting the lines and creases in your face and baring your body to the world in all its glory is to be admired.

However, if you are like me, you find that quite hard to do. It is not that I resent the fact that I am getting older. I love that I have more knowledge, experience, patience and respect for life than I did in my twenties and thirties but the trouble is that my head and heart still think that they are about half the actual age that I am.

There is a theory that we all have an age that we reach and then internally set as our perfect age. For example when I have worked with women clients in their seventies and eighties and asked them what age they actually feel inside they have all said that they still feel the same as they did at an age between twenty-five and thirty-five. Most men clients usually settle on an age between late teens and late twenties.

This is quite interesting when you look at the biological primes of men and women. These ages seem to correspond to female and male most fertile and stimulating years.

This can make it very hard to look in the mirror and see a sixty, seventy or eighty year old face and body when you actually only feel twenty-five inside.

There is some research to suggest that both men and women suffering from dementia may in fact look in the mirror and see a younger version of themselves which of course only leads to the confusion they are feeling.

So how can we use this internal feeling of youth to help us knock some years off our biological age?

We CAN recapture some of the elements of those earlier years. There are certain human factors that do not age in the same way as our bodies do. Our emotions may change intensity, as does passion, but the actual mechanism for those feelings is exactly the same at eighty as it was at twenty.

What we have to do is find a way to harness that internal age that we feel so in tune with and combine it with all the incredible experiences that we have learnt about life since that age.

The last time I actually felt at my best physically, I was about twenty-eight years old and my best emotional and mental ages were about thirty-five. Being realistic, unless I underwent radical plastic surgery, looking twenty-eight again is not on the cards. Much as I would love to, turning back the clock forty years is pushing it!

Generally, we have a great many more skills now than we did at twenty-eight and thirty-five and what WE CAN do is apply that knowledge to at least a ten year reversal in our biological age. This applies primarily to the internal health of our bodies but some of the external signs of aging will also be improved because of the revitalised functions of our body.

However, to be successful, it is also important to change some ingrained attitudes attached to our current age to enable us to take those steps backward.

So how do we go about changing those attitudes?

First I think it would be a good idea for everyone listening to complete the OFQ. We are all accustomed to the expression FAQ which means ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ but OFQ means ‘OLD FOGIE’S QUESTIONS’

These questions will determine if you have indeed become an ’Old Fogey’ and need to adjust your attitude by a few years. It is a little bit of fun but it is amazing how closely I can identify with some of these statements for myself and friends and relatives who are over a certain age. But, if I am completely honest, I have also met thirty year olds that fall into this category!

  • Do you have conversations with friends your own age turn into ‘duelling ailments’?
  • Is your idea of a night out is sitting on your patio?
  • Do you find yourself saying ‘I don’t believe it’ several times a day?
  • Is your idea of a party a hot chocolate and a couple of digestives in front of the television?
  • Do you give up all your bad habits and you still don’t feel good?
  • Do you feel that no one respects your opinions anymore?
  • Do you keep repeating yourself?
  • You tell the same story from your past over and over again.
  • Do you resist going to places where you will meet new people, preferring the comfort of your known friends and acquaintances?
  • Do you begin every sentence with ‘Nowadays or In My Day or When I was your age’?
  • Do you frequently tell people what a loaf of bread or a gallon of petrol used to cost?
  • Do you constantly criticise the younger generation?
  • Do you feel that it is not worth changing at your age as it will not make a difference?
  • Do you eat your meals at the same time every day and get upset when you are asked to change?
  • Do you order the same meal every time you go to a restaurant?
  • Do you find that you cannot sit still without falling asleep?
  • Do you find that you don’t care where your husband or wife goes as long as they don’t drag you along with them?
  • Do you find that ‘Happy Hour’ is a nap?
  • Have you stopped celebrating birthdays as it reminds you of how old you are?
  • You shout at the television screen all the time?

How can we avoid falling into this trap of being old?

First and foremost, next time you find yourself about to say any of the above, bite your tongue.

You actually have to make some decisions about your life. We are living longer today and thankfully most of us do not know how long we actually have left. You have a choice; you can live every day as if it is your last or you can sit patiently for the next 10, 20 or 30 years until it happens.

We all get complacent as we get older and we need to work harder to find stimulation physically and mentally. It is a bit like that saying ‘Been there, done that and got the T-shirt’. Well, unless you have been an intrepid explorer or a serious academic from childhood, you have not been everywhere and you have not done or know everything.

Strategy One Make A Wish List

It is very useful to create a wish list of the things that you would love to do. This may be a trip that you have always wanted to take – don’t worry at this stage how impractical or expensive this wish list is. These are wishes after all and we know that some of them don’t come true.

Write absolutely everything down. For example – learning languages, climbing Everest, sailing in the Greek Islands, singing Karaoke, meeting Marilyn Monroe, walking on the Moon, re-uniting with your best friend from school, learning to play a musical instrument, and being a grandparent.

It is quite clear that some of these wishes are not possible. Marilyn Monroe has been dead since August 1962 so you cannot meet her in person. However, there is so much information out there that you could certainly get to know her very well indeed.

The same with walking on the moon. There is no way that you are going to be able to do that realistically but there are videos and DVD’s on the subject, thousands of books and an amazing amount of material on the Internet. I did the next best thing however; I interviewed two astronauts for 30 minutes on television about their adventures!

You could still however, learn a language, to play a musical instrument and trace your best friend from school. You might want to complete a physical challenge such as run a marathon, or jump from a plane (see above).

It may not be physically possible for you to be an actual grandparent but there are some wonderful schemes running at the moment where you can be an adopted grandparent for children who do not have any of their own. Your experience of life and your love would be wonderfully received.

For every impossible dream or wish there is usually a work-around. Sometimes it is as simple as saying to yourself ‘I am going to do that’. In other cases you may have to live the wish vicariously through the eyes and the actions of someone else who has managed to live that dream.

The list could be one page or ten. It does not matter, the more wishes you have the more you may be able to make come true. Start working your way through them – for those that seemed impossible, find a solution. Tick them off as you go and feel that sense of achievement and satisfaction and that life still holds so many more opportunities in the years ahead. You may be a little slower but you are not dead yet. Set yourself goals on achieving those wishes. A year to learn Spanish, two years to save for a trip to Australia, 6 months to write that book that is in you.

Strategy Two – Build some unpredictability into your life.

  • Don’t eat at the same time every day
  • Visit the same restaurants every week
  • Use the same supermarket
  • Buy the same newspaper,
  • Watch the same television news
  • Talk to your family on the same day every week.

Stress is caused by not meeting your daily expectations.

My father had lunch on the table at 12.45 every single day, including Sundays. He used to get furious with us if we were 5 minutes late back from the pub and we used to get stressed out from the moment we arrived in the pub and then ran home to be on time. We would rather have had a sandwich at lunchtime and dinner in the evening but that was not the rule.

Strategy Three – Make a decision to learn something new every day.

It might be a new foreign language word, which means that at the end of the year you will have a vocabulary of 366 new words at your disposal. Learn two new words and you will be on your way to speaking the language very well. You only need 1500 to be fluent in Spanish!

Take a subject that you have always been interested in and take a formal course in it so that you can speak not only with authority but also as a qualified person.

Learn about your body and what it needs to be healthy: Then, instead of constantly talking about your ailments when you get together with your friends you can come up with some strategies for preventing or improving the condition. Much more positive than commiserating with each other about the symptoms.

Go out and meet new people even if today under our current restrictions it is people online. It might be a blogger, someone on Facebook you have seen in a group etc. Every one of us has had a lifetime of different experiences of the same event. Marriage, education, children, living in a foreign country, driving and dealing with life will have been perceived differently by individuals and sharing our own lives broadens our perspective.

Strategy Four

One of the hardest things as we get older is feeling that we no longer have anything to offer and that we are no longer respected for what we are or what we know.

Respect at any age is not a right, it has to be earned. People respect courage, humour, commitment, loyalty, enthusiasm, knowledge and a person who shares themselves by giving time and part of themselves to a relationship or group activity off and online.

Once you start giving you will be amazed at how much comes back to you. It is a waste of a lifetime’s experience, and the maturity you have gained, to sit at home and keep it to yourself.

I am not suggesting that you run out and start volunteering for every needy cause going but look within your own family and social group first and think carefully about where your participation in someone else’s life would benefit them and ultimately you. At this time there are many people living alone and there are a number of phone call schemes where you are matched up with someone living on their own and you chat to them once or twice a week.

What about love and romance?

This is one of the most wonderful ways to keep young. Just because we are older it does not mean that we cannot feel the passionate intensity of new found love or cannot nurture a relationship that we already have. It is too easy to become complacent and let small things fall by the wayside. Love and sharing is one of the most powerful anti-aging treatments around – and it costs nothing.

Love is not just restricted to a human relationship. Owning a pet and forming a bond with them is extremely beneficial to your health and definitely lowers blood pressure and stress.

Part of our reticence as we get older is that we feel it is unseemly for us to be looking for romance, which is rubbish. Also, we feel that physically we are going to be found lacking which is also rubbish. Unless you are an 80-year-old chasing a 20-year-old, we all have the same age related body changes and inside you still have the same passions and feelings.

If you are alone and would like to meet someone else then get out there and find a group of like-minded people. They will not come to you and you will have to make an effort. I appreciate that it is harder for a woman on her own to meet new partners but go out with a number of friends or join a drama or writing group. Play tennis and golf whatever it takes to make sure that you are part of the life that is going on around you. Life is full of surprises.

Internet dating for all age groups has become increasingly popular and provided you follow some basic safety rules, there is no reason why you should not find your ideal partner online. Let’s face it for our generation; we had to kiss a lot of frogs to find Mr. or Mrs Right, now you get to know all about them before you even get to that stage.

If you never fall in love again that is fine too, as long as you are surrounding yourself with family and friends that you find stimulating and fun and who get as much out of life as you do yourself. Many activities do not cost a fortune. A walk with a friend along the seashore – sharing a bottle of wine with your neighbour, helping out at the local animal sanctuary – all are inexpensive ways to share your life.

Start a dinner party club with a number of your friends and all do a course, or the wine. Limit the amount you can all spend to £10. You might have to do this by zoom at the moment but you will still be able to enjoy the banter around the table and compare notes on the food you have cooked. This means that you can have wonderful get-togethers each month without any single person having to spend a fortune. Also, when we get back to being able to see friends face to face, if your home is not suitable or out of the way you can use each other’s homes without anyone feeling that it is always their turn.

Finally – Life is not a rehearsal, this is it. To keep youthful and dynamic it is not just enough to eat a healthy diet. You need to keep the essence that is you nurtured and healthy and ready to live the next chapter in your life.

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three 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, radio programmes 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 2021

 

Thank you for dropping by and I would love to read your comments…please join me next week for some easy flexibility exercises and options for more intensive training..thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Recipes that Pack a Punch – A Chicken Sandwich and how your body extracts the nutrients by Sally Cronin


So far in this series I have shared recipes for dishes that contain ingredients that are packed with nutrients. Today’s recipe is for one of the simplest meals we can fix, in minutes. A chicken sandwich. Of course not all sandwiches are created equal and some are more nutritional than others, but you can rest assured that your body will take every last bit of goodness out of that sandwich, and treat it with same respect it would do for a Michelin starred 18 course taster menu.

Some of you will recognise this post from two years ago but I hope that those of you who have not read it, will enjoy finding out what happens to a Chicken Sandwich when it passes through your system. (If you want to check out the nutrients in the ingredients you can find them Weekly Shopping List by Nutrient)

Ingredients for my chicken sandwich

  • Homemade wholegrain bread and you can find my recipe (Yeast Free Irish Soda Bread)
  • A good swipe of grass fed butter (grass fed daily contains more of the essential K2 vitamin)
  • A dollop of homemade mayonnaise, recipe in last week’s post (chilled soups, salads and dressings
  • Mix of lettuce, spinach, rocket and watercress baby leaves
  • Fresh roasted chicken breast or thigh meat
  • Thinly sliced tomato
  • Half an avocado
  • Seasoning to taste

I am sure I don’t need to tell you how to put these together to create a delicious sandwich.

Our body is pretty amazing but it is not a magician. You do not eat a meal and are suddenly flooded with vitamins and minerals. It is necessary for the food to go through a complex process before its nutrients can be utilised to boost our immune system and provide us with energy.

For that task we need enzymes and other ingredients produced by our organs. For the purpose of this post I am going to use share what happens to that delicious sandwich from the moment you take that first mouthful. At that point one of the most complex systems in our body is already at work to get what it needs from this simple meal.

The journey of the chicken sandwich from first bite to fuelling your immune system, building bones, feeding your brain, protecting your heart and keeping your gut full of healthy bacteria.

chicken sandwichYou take your first bite of a wholegrain sandwich with chicken and salad, a bit of butter and a smidgen salt and mayonnaise (lovely)- in the meantime your teeth, tongue and salivary glands that produce the first phase of enzymes begin the digestive process before passing the food (properly chewed is helpful) into the pharynx at the back of the throat. For example amylase produced by the salivary glands converts the bread in the sandwich into pairs of sugars, or dissacharides.

Salivary GlandsThe food then passes into the oesophagus through to the stomach where hydrochloric acid modifies pepsinogen, secreted by the stomach lining to form an enzyme called pepsin. Pepsin breaks down the chicken into smaller units called polypeptides and lipase will break down any fatty globules into glycerol and fatty acids. The acid in the stomach will also kill as much harmful bacteria as possible (not only in the food itself but passed on from the hands that made it and the board it was made on). The end result is a highly acidic liquid that is passed into the duodenum.

Stomach and PancreasThe duodenum will secrete a mucus in response to two hormones (secretin and pancreozymin) that are released to neutralise the acidic liquid that was your chicken sandwich. Bile is also passed into the duodenum either directly from the liver or from the gallbladder where it has been stored.

Acid Alkali scale-01Bile is a complex fluid containing water, electrolytes and organic molecules including bile acids, cholesterol, phospholipids and bilirubin essential for the digestion of fats and their absorption along with fat-soluble vitamins as they pass through the small intestine. The bile has also picked up the waste products that have been accumulating in the liver so that they can be passed through the colon for elimination.

This is when total levels of cholesterol are affected by the efficiency of the bile process. Cholesterol not only comes from food but is also manufactured in the liver. It is virtually insoluble in most fluids except for bile where the acids and fats such as lecithin do the job. If this process is not effective cholesterol can collect into stones that block the ducts and cause problems with the digestion of fat. Bile levels in the body are lowest after fasting which is why you have a cholesterol test at least 12 hours after your last meal.

IntestinesBy the time the liquid sandwich reaches the duodenum the particles within it are already very small, however they need to be smaller still before they pass into the ileum, where the final chemical processing will take place. The enzymes that have joined the mix from the pancreas and amylase will break down the food even further into peptides and maltose which is a disaccharide sugar.7. The small intestine is lined by millions of villi, tiny hair like projections which each contain a capillary and a tiny branch of the lymphatic system called a lacteal. More enzymes maltase, sucrase and lactase are produced to facilitate the absorption of the smaller particles through the villi – including breaking down the sugar pairs into single sugars called monosaccharides which pass through easily.

The glycerol, fatty acids and the now dissolved vitamins are sucked up into the lymphatic system through the lacteal and into the bloodstream. Other nutrients such as amino acids, sugars and minerals are absorbed into the capillary in the villi which connects directly to the hepatic portal vein and the liver. It is here, in the liver that certain nutrients will be extracted and stored for later use whilst others are passed onto the body.

The carbohydrate in the sandwich we have eaten has been broken down into first pairs of sugars and then into single sugar molecules and have passed through the villi into the liver. Glucose provides our energy and the liver will determine current levels in our system, how much glucose to convert to glycogen to store and how much to release directly into the bloodstream, as long term imbalance can cause diabetes.

Once all the nutrients have been extracted and passed into the bloodstream, lymphatic system or liver, any insoluble and undigested food moves into the large intestine. Any water and salt remaining in the mixture is absorbed into the lining of the intestine and the remainder mixes with all the other waste products produced by the body such as bacteria and dead cells – it is then pack and pressed and stored for excretion.

So there goes the last of your chicken sandwich.

I hope it puts a different perspective on the food that you are putting into your mouth – it also is important to remember that if you have a white diet, white grains, fats and sugars lacking in sufficient healthy fats, vegetables and fruits, you are giving your body a great deal less to work with, and your body and immune system will struggle to get what it needs to be healthy.

The only foods that provide our digestive system with the raw ingredients to maintain and boost our immune systems are natural, unprocessed vegetables, fruit, protein, wholegrain carbohydrates and healthy fats. This does not mean that you cannot eat white flour products, for example sourdough bread because of the live nature of the fermentation process is a healthier alternative to store bought plastic cheap white bread.

If 80% of the time you are consuming these foods cooked from scratch then 20% of the time eating foods that have are not as healthy is not a problem.

Most of us have access to an amazing variety of fresh foods but stay firmly fixed on a handful. We need a really wide variety of food to obtain all the nutrients we need for our immune system and this shopping list might help you out. Weekly Shopping List by Nutrient

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three 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, radio programmes 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 2021

 

Thanks for joining me for this series and as always delighted to receive your feedback… keep young at heart… thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Health Column – Turning Back the Clock 2021 – Part Six – Anti-Aging and Oxygen by Sally Cronin


Sixteen years ago I had a series on radio called Turning Back the Clock, which I presented in response to listeners in their 50’s and 60’s looking for rejuvenation and tips on staying young. Like me they were exasperated by the claims of the cosmetic industry that the various ingredients in their products could knock ten years off their age. I was asked to design a diet that would help reverse the signs of aging and this developed into a weekly challenge that was undertaken by nearly 100 listeners. The series became a book in 2010.

I try to practice what I preach!  And certainly so far I have managed to maintain healthy key indicators such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cholesterol without medication, much to the surprise of my doctor!

In my opinion the answer to turning back the clock by several years is to consider and address a number of factors which include physical, emotional and mental age markers.

Link to part to Part Five and anti-aging and the Immune System: Here

 Are you getting enough oxygen?

Isn’t breathing something that we all do naturally without thinking about it?

One of the reasons that I have left the art of breathing to this fairly late stage is that I assumed that most people were actually doing it – at least sufficiently enough to sit reading this book. The sad fact is though that most of us only use a small proportion of our lung capacity. Which is also a bit of a waste when you think that a few minutes spent each day completing a deep breathing exercise and learning to use the lungs to full capacity is as free as the air you breath.

It is well worth remembering that only the fittest athletes can survive for more than 6 minutes without air – we all need water within 6 days and we can live without food for 6 weeks. I know what should be on our priority list.

As we get older we find we become more and more breathless as we undertake activity but this need not be inevitable and in this chapter I am going to provide you with the tools you need to improve this absolutely vital function. These very simple exercises are a definite weapon against aging and health problems.

What sort of benefits will people begin to see in the short term?

Breathing correctly and taking in the right amount of oxygen for the body can help you relax and reduce stress. It will improve your skin tone, which is part of any anti-aging programme. You will sleep better and in some cases lose weight.

More importantly many functions of the body, including the essential elimination of waste and toxins is dependent on our breathing. 70% of our elimination is through breathing, yet most people only use 20% of their lung capacity. This causes a build-up of toxins which lead to disease and chronic illnesses associated with old age. Most bacteria and viruses do not thrive in an oxygen rich environment so certainly health should benefit almost immediately.

How can it help to lose weight?

As far as losing weight is concerned, achieving an aerobic state means getting enough oxygen into the bloodstream to convert fuel to burn fat. This does not necessarily mean racing around breathing as hard as you can manage. What it does mean is achieving optimum breathing in gentle but effective exercises.

Breathing correctly can also release endorphins into the brain. Anything from panic attacks to migraine headaches can be improved by increasing oxygen into the system.

It may take some practice but after a few days you will be amazed at the sort of power you can achieve working with your body’s own capabilities.

What are some of the benefits to the whole body by breathing correctly?

The Respiratory System

  • Gives you more energy.
  • Reduces mental and physical fatigue.
  • Reduces chest pains caused by tight muscles, the tension causing anxiety of “heart attack potential” is reduced.
  • Aids in relief of many long-term respiratory difficulties such as asthma and bronchitis.
  • Reduces need for artificial stimulants and many harmful prescription drugs.
  • Helps eliminate waste from the body

Circulatory System

  • Improves blood circulation and relieves congestion.
  • Increases supply of oxygen and nutrients to cells throughout the body. Major organs such as brain and eyes need plenty of oxygen.
  • Eases the strain on the heart by increasing oxygen to the heart.
  • Helps increase the supply of blood and nutrients to muscle blood and bones.

The Nervous System

  • Better breathing can calm or stimulate the nervous system, balance or unbalance brain hemispheres, depending on the technique.

The Digestive System

  • Diaphragmatic action acts as a pump to massage the internal organs, aiding their function.

Endocrine System

  • Helps push the movement of lymph throughout the body, which helps eliminate toxic wastes and strengthen the immune system.

The Urinary System

  • Shallow breathing puts stress on other organs of elimination.
  • Better breathing can reduce oedema, (swelling of the body) by eliminating fluids thorough the breath.

The Skin

  • CO2 waste is eliminated more directly through breath.
  • Wrinkles can be lessened due to improved circulation and blood oxygen flow.
  • Radiant skin is a sign of good oxygenation

Movement and Flexibility

  • Relaxes muscle spasm and relieves tension.
  • Releases and reduces muscular tension that eventually may cause structural problems.
  • Helps increase flexibility and strength of joints; when you breathe easier you move easier.
  • Facilitates stretching of connective tissue, which prevents formation of adhesions and reduces the danger of fibrosis.
  • Can partially compensate for lack of exercise and inactivity due to habit, illness or injury.

Breathing exercises for morning and evening.

Breathing

Our breath is much more than just an intake of oxygen. It is our connection to life itself as without air we would die. There are 4 parts to every breath,

The inhale, a moment’s pause, the exhale and another natural moment’s pause before the next inhale. Exhale usually longer than the inhale.

Morning exercise

Stand with arms loose by your side, the whole body relaxed and still. The posture straight but not held taut. The shoulders rolling back and down to open the chest and release neck/shoulder tension.

As you inhale slowly lift the arms out and up above your head with palms parallel. As you exhale, release the arms back down gently to your sides.

So not only do you receive a gentle stretch to wake you up, but also there is more space in the body to take a deeper inhalation. It is very simple but very effective.

The most important thing is to unite the length of the inhale with the rise of the arms so that when the arms reach the furthest point above the head you have completed the inhale; there is a tiny pause, then the exhale down, slowly lowering the arms. When they reach your side the exhale is finished.

Generally the exhale is longer than the inhale as you are ridding the body of impurities with it. Then a little pause. The movements follow the breath, like surfing a wave. Don’t rush the moves or you will get tense, better to do them slowly and relaxed with total concentration, better still outside (on a beach) or in front of an open window to receive all that free energy!

I suggest to start that you inhale for the count of four

Exhale for the count of eight.

As you become more practiced, extend the inhale for a count of six and the exhale for a count of ten.

Practice for several minutes or at least 12 times. Better to do 12 focused breaths then 25 rushed ones. Quality versus quantity.

N.B.If you suffer with high blood pressure and or restrictive shoulder/arm movements, better to take the arms up only as far as the shoulder height.

Evening exercise

Lie down on your back on the floor. If you suffer with lower back pain, better to have your knees resting up over on sofa or chair. If your head doesn’t relax onto the ground easily, use a cushion.

Start with hands on lower belly, fingers pointing down to groin. Notice how you are breathing. The breath reflects our mental, physical and emotional state.

After two minutes consciously encourage the beginning of the breath into the belly to feel the hands rise with the inhale and relax down with the exhale. So you are using the abdomen to breath. If  you are in good health this should happen spontaneously, but all too often with stress many people breath only using the upper chest.

Do this for two more minutes, then place the arms out in a cross, shoulder height with palms up. Now there is more room to take the breath up into the middle lungs, feel the movement of the rib cage outwards and upwards. But you still begin each breath down deep in the belly. Do this for two  minutes, relaxing the body on the exhale.

Last of all, slide the arms higher up above your head relaxing on the floor, if you cannot do this due to tension or injury, leave them where they were in a cross. The purpose of this move is to now bring more space and awareness to the upper chest towards the base of the throat. There is little movement here compared to the ribs, but you can feel the rising of the chest and clavicular bones to the throat and chin at the peak of the inhale, just before you exhale.

So you now have 3 places to breathe into, the abdomen, the ribs and the upper chest to make one long, deep, satisfying breath. Feel each of the 3 places as the breath flows up the trunk as one long wave. As you exhale the wave retreats back down to the lower abdomen. Remember to feel the slight pause between inhales and exhales, but don’t hold your breath.

Try and practice this for at least 5 minutes, but 10 is better. It also helps improve your posture with the back flat and the arms out.

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three 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, radio programmes 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 2021

 

Thank you for dropping by and I would love to read your comments…please join me next week for an exploration of our changing attitudes as we get older and how easy it is to become an old fogey..or fogess…thanks Sally.

 

 

Smorgasbord Health Column – Turning Back the Clock 2021 – Part Five – Anti-Aging and The Immune System by Sally Cronin


Sixteen years ago I had a series on radio called Turning Back the Clock, which I presented in response to listeners in their 50’s and 60’s looking for rejuvenation and tips on staying young. Like me they were exasperated by the claims of the cosmetic industry that the various ingredients in their products could knock ten years off their age. I was asked to design a diet that would help reverse the signs of aging and this developed into a weekly challenge that was undertaken by nearly 100 listeners. The series became a book in 2010.

I try to practice what I preach!  And certainly so far I have managed to maintain healthy key indicators such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cholesterol without medication, much to the surprise of my doctor!

In my opinion the answer to turning back the clock by several years is to consider and address a number of factors which include physical, emotional and mental age markers.

Link to part to Part Four and the influence of hormones on the aging process: Here

The Key to Health and Anti-Aging is a powerful Immune System.

Over the last three chapters I have looked at the main contributory factors associated with aging. In this chapter I am going to explore the necessity of having a functioning and thriving Immune System and how we can eat food to achieve that.

Why is the Immune System so important in preventing premature aging?

In a nutshell, if your immune system is not functioning well your entire body, including the tissues, organs and systems suffer damage and cannot repair themselves. Additionally, you are wide open to bacterial, viral and toxic invaders who are looking for a nesting site.

You have what they need to reproduce and thrive, but they need to make some adjustments when they arrive. They like a lovely acidic, toxic, waste filled environment without too much oxygen. They are particularly fond of a new home that does not have troublesome neighbours such as anti-oxidants and they prefer a quiet life without too much exercise so that they get on and breed. They are a “class act” and make sure that they give you something back in the form of rent. Frequent Colds and Flu, Thrush, skin complaints, fatigue and stomach problems. If you are a really up-market landlord and are offering premium accommodation they will pay you back with Arthritis, Rheumatism, Osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and Cancer.

Not the sort of tenants one is looking for then?

No they definitely are not. The trouble is, of course, that most of them are squatters and should not be there in the first place. Most of us are very careless about our property and leave the back door and sometimes the front door wide open.

So how does a properly functioning Immune System protect us?

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

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

If you cut yourself-then germs can pass through directly to the bloodstream and from there they have complete access to the rest of your body.

We have special hairs and mucus tissues in our nose, mouth and throat that are designed to catch anything harmful.

If toxins get as far as our stomachs, then acid and enzymes will react and cause you to get rid of the problem. Our lungs too have a very sophisticated defence system that will make you cough it up.

Should any harmful bacteria, virus or toxin get past these barriers then we have a very complex system of cells and antibodies that will rush to our defence.

The liver is of course the place where most of these toxins are going to pass through, and it has specific enzymes designed to destroy them so that they can then be evicted from the body.

What are the effects of Free-Radicals on how quickly we age?

If you cut an apple and effectively damage it, within a few minutes it will begin to turn brown. If you leave it long enough the tissue of the apple will begin to break down and you will end up with a liquid, bacteria covered, and unidentifiable lump on your cutting board.

That just about sums up what free-radical damage does to your body. Just to get a little more technical for a few seconds. We bandy about the phrase “Free-Radicals” as if they are some dissident political group or schoolyard bullies. Like most bullies they are missing something and want yours.

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

Like the apple, the damage is a kind of oxidation, which is the action of adding oxygen to a substance (essentially the same as rusting!)

Aren’t some free-radicals important for the body?

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

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

What particular part do free-radicals play in aging?

The free-radicals cause cells to oxidise and die. The major damage is done to our DNA, which results in mutations and death of the cells. Our body does produce anti-oxidants and enzymes that can repair this damage if we eat healthily. However, as we get older so do our cells and it becomes harder to repair them and they die. This is aging! These cells that are dying are in our skin, tissues and organs such as the heart, brain and liver and every system that keeps us alive.

What other area of the Immune System is important to help with anti-aging?

We have a number of safety regulators in the body that are designed to deal with intruders, and if their health is not maintained we become very much more susceptible to disease.

Apart from our bloodstream we have another network throughout our bodies, which is called the Lymphatic system. This system runs throughout the body, and is a little like a railway network with stations along the route, which are called glands. You will often hear people say that their glands are swollen which is an indication of infection

The main ones are the Lymph Nodes in your neck, under your armpits and in your groin. The lymph fluid, which is called plasma, travels along the network, reaches one of the stations and drops off any harmful bacteria in the node. The lymph system contains a number of cells that sound like something out of James Bond movies: B-cells, Killer T-cells, Helper T–Cells, Macrophages and Lymphocytes and these and all other blood cells are produced in our bone marrow; which we hear a great deal about in relation to transplants.

All these cells have specific roles to play but for example the lovely macrophages swallow bacteria and kill them.

When it comes to aging, I think we all know how it feels to be drained of energy, getting continual infections, suffering the pain of degenerative diseases like arthritis. These in themselves make us feel old. But of course all these infections are adding enormous stress and strain to the body and are damaging the tissues in our body at the same time.

Although our body is programmed to regenerate over our lifetime, each cell only has a number of times that it can regenerate. If you wear out that system of regeneration when you are too young you are going to age.

In addition, when our body is stressed on a continuous basis, our glands will secrete hormones to counteract the inflammation and adrenaline to enable us to cope. This wears out the organs and they suffer damage and disease.

Where do we start when building up our Immune System?

The first place that we need to start is by gently detoxing our bodies of the accumulated waste. Earlier in January I shared an easy programme to get the body back to normal after the Christmas excesses and it is a good place to start when boosting the immune system.

Get your year off to a healthy startPart One – AndPart Two

For anyone that has been eating more fruit and vegetables, cutting down on the processed sugary and high fat foods and drinking more natural fluids such as water, that process has already begun. Hopefully problem foods like stimulants and alcohol have been reduced so there are fewer toxins entering the body. The anti-oxidants in the diet are boosting the immune system and you should be achieving a much healthier balance.

In addition to a daily diet of fresh unprocessed foods, particularly vegetables you need to take in foods that will absorb toxins and move them through the body efficiently.

For example I recommend that all my clients start the day by having some fresh lemon juice in hot water – this is excellent for your liver to help it detox. If you add a teaspoon of honey that will help your intestines too. Have a glass of carrot juice mixed with unsweetened apple juice a day will support the detox function of your liver and bile ducts. Also a medium glass of cranberry juice can help keep your urinary tract and therefore your kidneys free of infection.

You should be eating brown rice regularly and certainly a large tablespoon every day is excellent for keeping waste moving through your system as it should. There is a plan for a gentle detox at the end of the book which is easy on the body but effective in getting rid of unwanted visitors.

Is it ever too late to start this?

The really good news is that if you are not already dead you can do something about it. Sounds awful, but even if you are already in your 70’s and 80’s you still have trillions of cells left that can be nourished and repaired and still have reproductive life in them. The real key for managing the aging process is to stop the damage right now.

You can start by embracing the healthy eating plan you will find later on in the series which is packed full of wonderful ant-ioxidants. The main anti-oxidants are vitamins A, C, E and Beta-carotene, which is the precursor of Vitamin A. There is also Selenium, Zinc and Bioflavonoids. The more brightly coloured fruits and vegetables you consume the more anti-oxidants will be available to your immune system to fight the damage caused by free-radicals.

You should also drink plenty of fluids including water to flush any toxins out of your system and other fluids such as green tea, which are full of anti-oxidants.

You will also be eating a high percentage of your foods unprocessed and from plant sources, which is creating an alkaline environment that germs cannot survive in.

Vitamin D and the immune system.

There have been an increasing number of studies in relation to vitamin D levels its 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 later in the post, but first a look at 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.

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.

SupplementationPharmacy 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.

You can find out more about Vitamin D in these two posts from Project 101 – ResilienceVitamin D Part one –  AndPart Two

Apart from food is there anything else we can do to protect our Immune System?

Exercise will move toxins out of your body provided you are drinking sufficient fluids. If not, you will know about in the form of lactic acid and muscle cramps. Exercise also pumps oxygen into the body and although this creates free-radical activity, other harmful bacteria and viruses do not like an oxygen rich environment and die. So provided you are taking in sufficient anti-oxidants taking exercise is fantastic.

We have to learn how to relax so that our bodies can rest. Being young at heart and full of vibrant energy is exactly what we are aiming to achieve. But at the same time we have to allow time for our bodies to recover from activity and rebuild its defences. You cannot run any living system without down-time otherwise you will damage all the components.

Take a nap. Make sure you get the right amount of sleep. Take a day off and do something completely different and go out and enjoy a quiet dinner for two etc.

Avoid toxins and germs. Do not put yourself in harm’s way. Use gloves when you are cleaning, wash your hands before preparing food. Wash food if you are not going to peel it.

Do not store household chemicals under your sink in the kitchen, try and put them into an outside storage area.

This year last year as Covid took up residence in our communities ‘wash your hands’ became a mantra…Although it is wonderful to kiss our friends and shake hands, that is how germs are spread by touch more so than inhaling.

So keep wearing your mask and wash your hands several times a day especially if you have been in an environment that has been infiltrated by many people, such as supermarkets.

If it is possible to get outside to exercise, fresh air at least once a day for 45 minutes does wonders as far as clearing your system and boosting your oxygen levels and with exposure to sunlight a boost to vitamin D levels.

In the next post I am going to show you how breathing and doing some very simple exercises each day can help boost your immune system and mimimise damage to cells and organs.

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three 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, radio programmes 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 2021

 

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will join me again next week for part six of this series and the impact of simple breathing exercises on our aging process.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Recipes that Pack a Punch – #Mushroom Soup and Mushroom Chilli Carbonara by Sally Cronin


In this series I will be sharing recipes that pack a punch of nutrition and still taste delicious. By now you know that I believe in a ‘cook from scratch’ approach to preparing meals and I have followed that philosophy for over forty years. In my mid-20s I was cooking food for 110 growing children three times a day, and the focus had to be on the nutrition as well as the taste. As a nutritional therapist for the last 25 years, I have shared these recipes with my clients to ensure that they never went hungry or deficient in the essential nutrients their bodies needed to be healthy.

Today I am sharing two recipes containing mushrooms and if you are looking to prepare some meat free dishes during the week, mushrooms are a great alternative and packed with nutrients..especially when combined with other ingredients such as onions, green vegetables and eggs to add their nourishment to the dish.

There is more information about the nutrients and health benefits of mushrooms at the end of the post..

I love soups in the winter months and like to buy the boxes of mixed mushrooms with all their varying flavours that bring depth to a soup. The Asian mushrooms in particular such as Shitake and Maitake have additional health benefits and are available in most supermarkets or frozen which is how I buy them for use in casseroles and soups.

Creamy mushroom soup

When preparing mushrooms remember that if you wash them you need to dry as much as possible before cooking, however with soup that is not too much of a problem since you need the liquid.

To serve four people a generous supper portion or six as a starter.

  • 250gm (8oz) mushrooms (the type of mushroom will determine colour – brown mushrooms give a depth of flavour but you can use shiitake or button too.
  • 1 medium onion.
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon and rind (try freezing your lemon before grating and you get the added vitamin C from the pith)
  • 600ml (pint) of chicken or vegetable stock.
  • 200ml (1/2 pint milk) I use full fat milk to give a creamy taste but you can use semi-skimmed.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of thyme
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (a pinch)
  • A half teaspoon of pimiento dulce to add a little spice and colour.

Preparation

  1. Wash and slice the mushrooms and put into a pan with the finely chopped onion and grated rind and lemon juice.
  2. Pour in the stock and milk and add the thyme and salt and pepper.
  3. Cover the pan and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  4. Liquidise the soup and then return to the pan to reheat and check the seasoning.
  5. Serve hot with warm homemade soda bread. (recipe next week)

Mushroom Chilli Carbonara

I love pasta although I do not eat as much carbohydrates these days as my requirement is much less than it used to be. However, we have a pasta dish with or without meat at least once a week. Here is a recipe using mushrooms and with a touch of added heat from chilli.

Serves 4 people.

  • 250gm (8oz) button, chestnut or shiitake mushrooms.
  • 300ml (1/2pint) hot water
  • 225gm (8oz) pasta of your choice – Tagliatelle or spaghetti is great especially whole wheat.
  • 1 crushed garlic clove or level teaspoon of garlic powder if you like the spice.
  • 25/30gm (just over an 1oz) butter
  • 15ml (1tbsp) Olive oil (do not worry about virgin or extra virgin for frying)
  • 1 Teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
  • 300ml (1/2 pint) single cream
  • 2 eggs
  • You can also add a handful of chopped spinach to add some colour and extra nutrients
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Fresh grated Parmesan cheese and some chopped fresh parsley to garnish

Preparation

  1. Cook the pasta according to the preparation information on the packet, drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.
  2. In a pan lightly sauté the garlic if you have used fresh cloves in the butter and oil.
  3. Add the mushrooms, chilli flakes and cook for about three minutes.
  4. Pour in your hot water and boil to reduce the sauce.
  5. Beat the eggs and the cream with the seasoning.
  6. Add the cooked pasta to the pan of mushrooms and then add the eggs and cream.
  7. Mix through the ingredients
  8. Reheat so that the eggs are cooked but don’t boil.
  9. Serve in a bowl with grated parmesan and chopped parsley.

More about mushrooms

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 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.

One area of research is into the phytochemical action that suppresses two enzymes, aromatase and steroid 5alpha-reductase. Aromatase converts the hormone androgen into oestrogen, an excess of which can promote the development of breast cancer. Steroid 5alpha-reductase has the same effect on testosterone, converting it to dihydrotestosterone, which has been shown to be involved in the development of prostate cancer. In the laboratory a team led by a Dr. Chen discovered that the mushroom extract suppressed the growth of both these cells.

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.  You can discover more about this amazing food source of nutrients: Smorgasbord Health Column, Food Therapy – Mushrooms

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three 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, radio programmes 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 2021

 

Thanks for joining me for this series and as always delighted to receive your feedback… keep young at heart… thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Weekly Round Up – 31st January – 6th February 2021 – 1960s Music, Bloggers, Book Reviews, Hormones, Shortstories, Slowcooking and Funnies


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

I hope everyone is doing well and not to badly impacted by the winter storms across America and Europe… we don’t tend to get snow very often in our part of the Irish coast but it looks like we may well get hit tomorrow and then a freeze next week. I took the precaution of doing the weekly shop today instead of Monday and went early. By the time I was leaving at 10.00 the built up as a lot of others had the same idea.

Virus numbers seem to be coming down although not early enough here at the moment. We shall see if the March 5th lifting of restrictions will take place.

In the meantime as one of the five million people still choosing to use the Classic Editor.. I was furious when they updated the programme two days ago which now means adding two steps instead of one to inserting images, short links, centering text, bolding text, adding colour, and italics. Thankfully there are a few keyboard shortcuts for some, but otherwise you now have to click an up arrow to the editing icons instead of them being visible whilst you format the post. Pain in the butt and another move in my opinion to drive us into using the block editor.. underhand.

Of course unless you are a paid subscriber to  WordPress you cannot access help in person. The irony is that if they could guarantee that I could retain the classic editor and keep the current format, I would be happy to pay them an annual subscription. I am sure that most of the other 5 million people still using the Classic Editor would probably be happy to do so.

The latest news from the forums is that they say, if the demand is still there after December 31st 2021, they will reconsider supporting it into 2022.

Whilst it might sound like I am an entrenched luddite, it is more down to the way I blog, which is several times a day. I appreciate that for many that is breaking the rules of blogging, but my vision was of a magazine style blog with varied topics and an effective book marketing platform. I am not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but if they keep mucking around with the functionality of the editor then I will be looking at making some changes.

I love doing this and it is frustrating when I can’t do it the way I want.   Which incidentally was their grand opening mission statement.. ‘Your blog, Your Way.’

Anyway.. enough of the rant.

Thanks very much for keeping me motivated by your visits and comments…  Also to the guests this week who are participating in the Breakfast Show specials and the Posts from the Archives.

The Breakfast Show with William Price King and Sally Cronin – Chart Hits 1962 – Part One

The Breakfast Show – 1960s Hits Part Two – Special Guests John W. Howell and Jennie Fitzkee

July 1986 – Rafting on the Guadaloupe

What’s in a Name? – Patrick – Love in a Time of War

What’s in a Name? – Martha The System Administrator

#1960s #Thriller – Paris Escapade by Ted Myers

#Fantasy #Adventure – Voyage of the Lanternfish by C. S. Boyack

Past Book Reviews 2020 – #Familysaga – The Memory by Judith Barrow

Past Book Reviews 2020 – a kiss for the worthy: #Poetry inspired by the Walt Whitman poem ‘Leaves of Grass’ (A Love Poetry Trilogy Book 2) by Frank Prem

#PersonalPower #Standards by Toni Pike

#Finance – Reversal of Fortune by Sharon Marchisello

#Life – Nature’s Hideaway – Pond Party! – Observations by D.G. Kaye

#Writing D.G. Kaye, #Blogging Pete Springer, #Zucchini Dorothy’s New Vintage Kitchen

#Greece Eat Dessert First, Mairzy Doats by Elizabeth Gauffreau, #FlashFiction Janet Gogerty

#TVReview D.G. Kaye, #Mushrooms Carol Taylor, #Poetry Recap Colleen M. Chesebro

#WildDogs Patricia Furstenberg, #Tofu Jemima Pett, #SueVincent Carrot Ranch

olives

Turning Back the Clock 2021 -Anti-Aging and The Hormone Factor

Vegetable Casserole/soup/base

– #Cheetahs Patricia Furstenberg, #History Barbara Ann Mojica, #Nature Joyce Murphy

New Release -#Fantasy Heather Kindt, Reviews- #Poetry/Prose M.J. Mallon, #Paranormal Romance Stevie Turner

#Fantasy D.Wallace Peach, Fiona Tarr, #Comingofage Bette A. Stevens

Reviews #Family Christa Polkinhorn, #Shortstories Karen Ingalls, #Sc-fi Sandra J. Jackson

February 2nd 2021 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Wine Day and One Liners

February 4th 2021 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Margaritas and Flying Companions. Posted on February 4, 2021 by Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life.

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines Extra – February 2021 – Another Open Mic Night

 

Thank you very much for dropping in this week and for your support.. enjoy the weekend and I hope you will join me again next week..

Smorgasbord Health Column – Turning Back the Clock 2021 -Anti-Aging and The Hormone Factor by Sally Cronin


Background to the series.

Sixteen years ago I had a series on radio called Turning Back the Clock, which I presented in response to listeners in their 50’s and 60’s looking for rejuvenation and tips on staying young. Like me they were exasperated by the claims of the cosmetic industry that the various ingredients in their products could knock ten years off their age. I was asked to design a diet that would help reverse the signs of aging and this developed into a weekly challenge that was undertaken by nearly 100 listeners. The series became a book in 2010.

I try to practice what I preach!  And certainly so far I have managed to maintain healthy key indicators such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cholesterol without medication, much to the surprise of my doctor!

In my opinion the answer to turning back the clock by several years is to consider and address a number of factors which include physical, emotional and mental age markers.

Link to part three and the eating plan to balance the pH in the body: Here

This week’s post is about the role that healthy fats and cholesterol play in the production of our hormones. Cholesterol is essential for the production of hormones as well as our brain health and other important functions. Whilst having too much of one kind of cholesterol is not healthy for our arteries or heart a balance of all kinds is needed: Why we need Cholesterol in our bodies – Smorgasbord Health

As we age our reproductive hormones naturally decrease, but they do not disappear and they still need the ingredients necessary to produce them. This requires that we maintain a diet that provides those nutrients. I know that this chapter is quite lengthy but please feel free to save to read later.

The Hormone Factor in the aging process

Isn’t it inevitable that all hormone levels are going to drop as we get older, and will we all be affected?

Most of us, when we talk about hormones, are usually referring to the reproductive ones such as testosterone, progesterone and oestrogen.

We all know that as we get older our reproductive hormones decrease and both men and women go through a menopause. Women are more affected by this, obviously, but men too experience a decrease in testosterone levels and the changes that this brings about.

However, our sex hormones are just three of the many hormones that are produced in our bodies and even though our reproductive abilities may decrease as we get older, the hormones involved are still active within our body. If they, and our other hormones, are looked after they will contribute to a healthy, energetic and youthful appearance. Sex does not stop when we get middle aged it just gets more creative and interesting.

I am not going to cover every form of hormone but it is important to remember that all hormones produced by the body are for a specific reason. They ensure that the complex processes within our bodies are working efficiently. When these processes are not working at an optimum level there is a breakdown in function over time, and damage and aging will take place.

What are hormones?

Hormones are some of the most powerful chemicals to be found in the body. They are bio-chemicals produced in special glands and then carried in the bloodstream to other glands, or cells, where they give instructions that activate certain processes.

They are secreted by a number of different glands such as the Pituitary, Adrenal, Thyroid, Pancreas, Ovaries, Testes and Pineal. Each gland may produce one or more different hormone to affect a process in the body. For example; the Pancreas secretes Insulin, Glucagon and Stomostatin. Insulin and glucagon are secreted according to the level of blood sugar and Stomostatin is the referee to ensure that not too much of either is secreted and that blood sugar levels remain balanced as a result.

Hormones are manufactured from components of food, which means that the type of diet you follow has a major impact on keeping hormone levels in balance! Hormones are either protein-like as in insulin, or fat-like as in steroid hormones.

Since our primary focus is on maintaining our health; through eating an optimum diet, we need to concentrate on providing the body with the most perfect environment for hormone balance and therefore lack of stress; which leads to damage and disease.

The hormone functions I am going to cover are Metabolism, Blood Sugar Levels and Stress Response because these, combined with low levels of the sex hormones Testosterone, Progesterone and Oestrogen, are some of the leading causes of aging.

Whatever the level of hormones produced by particular glands, if they are not communicating when they get to their destinations (such as the Thyroid Gland, Kidneys or Ovaries, they will not be effective – and the on-going functions they are supposed to stimulate will be disrupted.

I detail  the foods that provide these essential nutrients for our brain and hormone productions at the end of the post.

How do we create the perfect environment?

Well, a good start is to be following a diet which is primarily sourced from all natural ingredients, is low in refined sugars and contains healthy fats. Being near a healthy weight will also help. There are certain foods that are very nutrient dense which are very important in creating the right atmosphere for hormones to work efficiently in balance.

One of the most important food sources is Essential Fatty Acids which are Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids (polyunsaturated fatty acids). The body must have these essential fatty acids, yet cannot make them itself.

One of the main functions of essential fatty acids is the production of prostaglandins which are hormone-like substances that regulate many body functions. Basically, they control every cell of the body on a second-by-second basis by acting as interpreters between the hormones and the cells they are being delivered to. As far as aging is concerned they are required for energy production, increasing oxidation and metabolic rates. Energy levels go up with high stamina with decreased recovery time from fatigue.

Prostaglandins are particularly important in the way that they balance all hormones including the reproductive ones. You also need to note that the brain does not function without essential fatty acids.

Monounsaturated fats are also important, as both these types of fats protect brain cells and the membranes and ensure effective passing of nutrients within the brain.

This last point is particularly important, because when we talk about hormones we tend to ignore the power behind the throne, which is the Hypothalamus. The other name of the Hypothalamus is actually the word Homeostasis, which means balance, which is very appropriate. It is located in the middle of the base of the brain and is connected to the Pituitary lobes, which form the most important gland in the body.

The Hypothalamus regulates:

  • body temperature,
  • blood sugar,
  • water balance,
  • fat metabolism,
  • appetite,
  • body weight,
  • sensory inputs – such as taste and smell and sight,
  • sleep,
  • sexual behaviour,
  • emotions,
  • hormone productions,
  • menstrual cycle regulation
  • the automatic nervous system that controls functions such as breathing and the heart muscle.

So, when we talk about hormones we need to talk about brain health as a priority.

Apart from essential fatty acids – what else does the brain need to function?

I am sure that it is no surprise that I am going to say FLUIDS are essential for adequate brain function. Dehydration causes to cells to dry up and die but also prevents the nutrients and oxygen reaching the brain, uphill through the carotid artery.

Headaches, nervousness, dizziness and nausea are all symptoms that the brain is dehydrated. That’s what you get when you drink too much coffee and alcohol and get a hangover. They are mild diuretics that can drain the body including organs such as the brain, of fluid.

Additionally, every organ in the body, including the brain, has a pH balance that needs to be maintained. Without fluid the brain can become too acidic and damage occurs as I explained in the previous chapter on acidity and alkalinity.

B vitamins are critical for the brain.

  • B1 (Thiamine) essential for the nervous system.
  • B2 (Riboflavin) works with Vitamin C to help the Adrenal glands and therefore energy levels.
  • B3, (Niacin) assists Tryptophan in making Serotonin and the formation of the steroid hormones and for warding off senility.
  • B5 (Pantothenic acid) is required for making neurotransmitter chemicals and for steroid hormones Testosterone and Oestrogen, B6 (Pyridoxine) Serotonin manufacture, sleep patterns,
  • B12 (Cyanocolbalamin) essential for proper functioning of the nervous system.

Other essential nutrients for brain health.

  • Vitamin C a powerful antioxidant that protects the brain from free-radical damage but also works with other vitamins and minerals in a number of vital processes.
  • Vitamin E which helps increase circulation of oxygen and glucose rich blood to the brain. As an antioxidant it also protects brain cells from damage and destruction. It also protects the essential fatty acids and the Prostaglandins from oxidising (more next week)
  • Tryptophan that works with B3 and B6 particularly to manufacture Serotonin and Melatonin in the brain.
  • Calcium which calms the brain and assists in sleeping (hot milk at night). Magnesium to help Calcium work and to help calm panic attacks.
  • Phenylalanine an antidepressant nutrient that also stimulates memory.
  • Zinc, which has a calming effect on the brain function and with vitamin C, protects the membranes.

What part do amino acids play in hormone production?

Amino acids are the building blocks that make up proteins, which of course is what we are made of. Vitamins and minerals can’t perform their specific functions effectively if the necessary amino acids are not present. Amino acids are either classified as essential or non-essential. The non-essential ones can be manufactured in our bodies but the essential amino acids have to be obtained from food.

All hormones require amino acids for their production. For example L-Arginine encourages growth hormones and constitutes 80% of semen, which is why a deficiency causes sterility and is also essential for prostate health. L-Tryptophan helps in the production of Serotonin and Melatonin and helps to control emotional behaviour. L-Glutamine is helpful for Thyroid gland function. Taurine is used for hyperactivity and poor brain function.

What about the health of the other hormone producing glands?

Most of the above applies throughout the body. A diet rich in antioxidants such as Vitamin A, C and E and essential fatty acids and amino acids will promote health everywhere. Having created a near perfect working environment for the bosses (the Hypothalamus and the Pituitary), we can turn our attention to the health of the Thyroid (metabolism, energy and growth) Adrenal Gland (sex drive, stress response and metabolism) and Pancreas (Blood sugar levels). If these organs are producing the hormones they are supposed to in the right quantities many of the problems we associate with old age would be much more manageable. Including energy and the ability to process our nutrients efficiently keeping us away from degenerative disease such as arthritis.

How can we take care of the thyroid?

The Thyroid needs Iodine and Selenium to produce an enzyme, which converts the amino acid Tyrosine into Thyroxine. If Thyroxine is at a less than optimum level there will be weight gain, fatigue, intestinal problems and thickening skin. This gland also produces a hormone that is responsible for calcium balance between blood and bones. If this is not working then too much calcium is leached from the bones, leaving them vulnerable to osteoporosis.

What function does the adrenal gland have?

The Adrenal gland is actually in two parts the cortex (male characteristics, sex drive, stress response, metabolism and the excretion of Sodium and Potassium from the kidneys). The Medulla, which produces the Adrenaline for metabolism and the fight or flight stress response.

If your stress levels remain high for long periods of time there will be an effect on the rest of your body. The body slows down digestion, maintenance and repair so that it is ready to run at any moment. It definitely speeds up the aging process because, like anything that is not maintained and is under stress, it slowly deteriorates. It will have a very big impact on all the rest of the hormones in the body including your sex drive – which is why stress plays a very important role in problems such as impotence.

A note here that if you have food intolerances you will be in a constant state of stress as the body deals with the invader. It will put a great deal of strain on the entire body, contributing to aging, which is why following a rotational eating plan (only eating suspect foods every five days) will help.

All the B vitamins, as well as Vitamin C, are necessary for the Adrenal glands as these are the nutrients that the body uses up most when in a stress reaction. Therefore they need to be replaced.

The Pancreas – Insulin production and blood sugar levels. What nutrients are needed for that to function healthily?

Like any of the hormonal glands, all of the nutrients that we have already mentioned are going to help the pancreas function better. In addition, it is important to follow some guidelines about eating certain foods that are going to stress the gland and put excess sugar into the bloodstream in addition to that made by the body.

So it is important to avoid too much refined carbohydrates and sugar (follow the healthy eating programme)

You should not eat too much saturated fat. Do not drink too many stimulants such as coffee and alcohol; be at a reasonable weight.

How about the food sources for the essential nutrients that are required to balance the hormones?

olivesEssential Fatty Acids

  • Omega 3. Flaxseed oil, walnuts, pumpkinseeds, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds, avocados, dark green vegetables such as spinach, salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, tuna.
  • Omega 6. Flaxseed oil, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, olive oil, evening primrose oil, chicken.
  • Omega 9. Olive oil, olives, avocado, almonds, sesame oil, pecans, pistachio, cashews.

Heat and oxygen destroy essential fatty acids so keep oils in dark glass containers.

vegetablesAntioxidants are found in all fresh fruit and vegetables and if you are eating 50% to 60% you will be doing great.

B vitamins. Apricots, avocado, brown rice, carrots, chicken, eggs, whole grains, lambs kidney and liver, melon, nuts, oats, oily fish, potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, spinach, all salad vegetables and yoghurt.

Amino acids are found in proteins either animal or vegetable. Main sources are Soya beans, peas, beans, whole grains like brown rice, dairy products, poultry, lean meats and eggs.

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three 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, radio programmes 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 2021

 

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will join me again next week for part five of this series and the impact of an ineffective immune system on our aging process. Thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Health Column – Recipes that Pack a Punch – Vegetable Casserole/soup/base by Sally Cronin


I am a huge fan of bulk food preparation and it probably stems from running my own business single handed cooking for 100 + customers every lunchtime in a pub I was landlady of, and then later preparing cooked breakfast, lunch and high tea for 120 children and 20 staff in a boarding school. Meals that have to be ready at a specific time of day for that many, requires planning and preparation in advance, particularly of vegetables.

Since vegetables lose a great deal of nutrients the moment you cut into them, and then even more if they are left uncooked for more than a few hours, it meant an early start each day. I did have an industrial water peeler for potatoes and carrots etc, and two staff to help prep for meals, but it still was time consuming. However, blanching and freezing vegetables as soon as they are peeled and cut, does preserve most of the nutrients and cuts down the cooking time.

Now that there are only two of us to cook for, I still like to prep vegetables in bulk two or three times a week and they stay fresh in the fridge for at least three days.

David, my husband, has an extra boost in the evenings with a bowl of mixed vegetable soup, jazzed up with a little protein left over from our main meal and sometimes a spoonful of rice.

My favourite pieces of kitchen equipment are my two slow cookers, one large and one medium. Today I am sharing my recipe for the weekly pot of vegetable casserole, soup and sauce base which produces 8 portions of nutrient dense and tasty main meals or suppers. Adding extras such as beans makes this a great meal for vegetarians and is usually a hit with children who might be reluctant to eat vegetables prepared in other ways.

It is also a great dish for those who might be recovering from an illness or surgery or for an elderly person who has lost their appetite. It can be blitzed to make a smooth soup and you can add some whole milk to make it creamy in texture. It will lose none of its nutrients and it will be easily absorbed by the body.

One of the major benefits of using a slow cooker is that you lose none of the nutrients during the cooking process as it is all retained in the mixture.

Before I give you the recipe… a reminder of the essential nutrients we should be including in our daily diet to maintain an effective immune system, strong teeth and bones, efficient digestive system and a brain firing on all cylinders. You can find each of these nutrients described in more detail in a series from 2020 and linked to from this comprehensive shopping list that provides all the nutrients you need in a weekly shop: Smorgasbord Health Weekly Grocery Shopping List.

  • Vitamins and anti-oxidants – A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 (Folate) B12, C, D, E, K,
  • Minerals – Calcium, chloride, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, zinc.
  • Amino Acids –  L-Arginine, L-Tryptophan, L-Glutamine
  • Essential Fatty AcidsOmega-3 (Linolenic Acid), Omega-6 (Linoleic Acid) 
  • Bioflavonoidsphytochemicals that enhance the action of Vitamin C.
  • Very strong anti-oxidants such as Nasunin and Chlorogenic acid

Ingredients and some of their essential nutrients in a recipe that packs a punch.

  • 150ml Olive Oil – Omega 9 Fatty Acid and Vitamin E
  • Two large Onions and 2 cloves crushed Garlic – Folate, B1, B6 Vitamin C, biotin, manganese, copper, chromium, quercitin, potassium, phosphorus.
  • Three handfuls of fresh Spinach – Vitamin K, Vitamins A, Folate, B1, B2, B6, C, E, calcium and potassium.
  • Four sticks of Celery – High in anti-oxidants and fibre, vitamin K, folate, vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium,
  • Four large Parsnips – Fibre – vitamin B6 – vitamin C, vitamin K – folate – vitamin E – magnesium: thiamine – phosphorus – zinc
  • Three medium Leeks – Vitamin A folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. vitamin K – calcium, iron magnesium, manganese, potassium , selenium and zinc.
  • Four large Carrots – Vitamin A (retinol), beta-carotene (turned into vitamin A in the body), other carotenoids, B vitamins, vitamin C and minerals calcium and potassium.
  • One large Butternut Squash – vitamin A, vitamin B1, B3, B6, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, manganese, potassium:
  • Six large tomatoes skinned and blitzed in a blender. beta-carotene (vitamin A) , vitamins C and E, B vitamins and vitamin K, calcium and magnesium.
  • Handful of fresh Basil leaves: polyphenolic flavonoids like orientin and vicenin. vitamin-A, vitamin K, copper, magnesium, manganese and potassium.
  • 600ml of vegetable stock made from organic cubes available from Health Food Shops or sometimes in supermarkets.
  • Added extra to make a more substantial meal with an added boost of nutrients
  •  One can of organic mixed beans (usually in health food section or health food shop and no added ingredients – vitamin B1, copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and tryptophan.
  • Any fresh vegetables you have that need using up such as red peppers, spring onions, mushrooms etc.. All will add their own nutrients to the feast.

To prepare

Simply dice or chop all the vegetables, add the stock, cover ( I put a tea towel on top of the cover as well to retain the heat) and cook on high for two hours and then on low for another hour. Check to make sure the root vegetables which tend to be fibrous are fully cooked and tender.

  • I portion out into freezer containers or you can store portions in the fridge for up to three days.
  • It can be used as a base for main meals by adding in cooked protein to the portions as needed.Great for pasta or rice dishes.
  • Or as suppers as a rich soup (dilute the mixture which is quite thick) with a dollop of live yogurt and chopped chives to make it creamier served with some sliced homemade bread.

Image pixabay.com

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three 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, radio programmes 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 2021

 

Thanks for visiting today and as always I value your feedback.. next time some soups that taste good and do you good….thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Turning Back the Clock 2021 -Anti-Aging and pH balance Eating Plan by Sally Cronin


Background to the series.

Sixteen years ago I had a series on radio called Turning Back the Clock, which I presented in response to listeners in their 50’s and 60’s looking for rejuvenation and tips on staying young. Like me they were exasperated by the claims of the cosmetic industry that the various ingredients in their products could knock ten years off their age. I was asked to design a diet that would help reverse the signs of aging and this developed into a weekly challenge that was undertaken by nearly 100 listeners. The series became a book in 2010.

I try to practice what I preach!  And certainly so far I have managed to maintain healthy key indicators such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cholesterol without medication, much to the surprise of my doctor!

In my opinion the answer to turning back the clock by several years is to consider and address a number of factors which include physical, emotional and mental age markers.

Part Two of the series explaining pH balance and symptoms of too much acid can be found: Here

Eating plan for acidity/alkaline balance if you are already experiencing high acidity related health problems that are making you feel older than you are!

It is important that you eat regularly and moderately to provide you with the nutrients that you require, and to allow your body to process those nutrients to make them as accessible as possible for your body.

Your main meals are breakfast, lunch and dinner with three snacks in between depending on your energy requirements.

The older we get the less we need to snack between meals especially if they are sugary in nature.

  • Main meals should consist of some wholegrain or vegetable carbohydrate, animal or plant protein and a small amount of healthy fats.
  • Always chew food slowly and if you put your knife and fork down between each mouthful you should be eating at the correct pace. If there is someone in your family who always finishes their meal after you then make it a point to slow down so that they finish first.
  • After a heavier than normal meal always try and relax for at least half an hour before moving around and certainly leave at least two hours before rigorous exercise.
  • Drinking a small cup of peppermint tea after a meal will aid digestion
  • It is better to eat fruit as a starter rather than a dessert as it digests much quicker than any other food. If you eat fruit within half an hour of a heavy meal it can cause a disruption to the digestive process.

Intermittent Fasting is also a way to allow your digestive system to process foods thoroughly over sixteen hours whilst you eat within the other 8 hours. If you are not hugely active then eating two main meals with a small amount of fruit as a snack is quite easy to get used to and has been shown to reduce the risk for diseases such as diabetes.

Most people who follow this diet will fast on two days a week with meals adding up to 500 to 600 calories of high density nutritional foods. However, it is tempting then on the other five days to roll the boat out. I find eating two meals a day with a piece of fruit in between, within an 8 hour window every day to be easier to stick to.

Eating to achieve a healthy Acid/Alkalinity Balance

Foods that should be avoided.

Foods have different acid and alkaline properties. Some are acidic in the mouth but form alkaline ash; others are so heavily processed that they will turn to acidic ash in the stomach. If you suffer already from acid reflux or peptic ulcers you should follow the following recommendations as strictly as possible. This also applies if you have some of the more common degenerative diseases such as arthritis as an acid environment is perfect.

If you would simply like to ensure the correct pH balance in your body then you can adopt a 60/40 approach and ensure that acid forming foods are only included in your diet once a day.

If you suffer from any chronic diseases then for the next six weeks I suggest you follow these guidelines. Make a note in any change in symptoms and if you find that they have improved then this ratio is something you might like to stay with longer term.

Very, very acidic ash forming foods that should be avoided are:

  • All soft drinks,
  • More than a cup of coffee per day especially with cream and sugar combined,
  • Alcohol in general but particularly cheap wine and beer,
  • Refined sugars in commercially produced white flour bread, cakes, sweets and biscuits and artificial sweeteners.
  • Refined sugars in hot drinks
  • Salt should be used sparingly, as it is acid forming. Although not as bad for you as advertised Smorgasbord Health – The Salt Debate

Very acidic forming foods that can be included 20% of your daily diet are:

  • chicken,
  • turkey,
  • fish,
  • shellfish,
  • lamb,
  • beef,
  • pork
  • other lean proteins.
  • Oranges (nectarines are okay)

Moderately acidic forming foods that can be included up to 30% of your daily diet.

  • Wholegrains,
  • brown rice,
  • oats,
  • lentils,
  • walnuts,
  • rye,
  • wholegrain pastas,
  • sunflower seeds,
  • Pumpkin seeds,
  • good quality wines,
  • organic fresh coffee,
  • yoghurt,
  • milk and cheese.
  • cranberries
  • all the beans.

Alkaline foods that can be included freely every day. (Plenty of great foods and this list is just representative of the variety and vegetables in general are alkaline.)

N.B that although some of these fruits contain natural fruit sugar they are alkaline. If however you are pre-diabetic or diabetic then you sould limit your fruit intake to one piece per day. Also avoid high sugar juices and instead substitute with vegetable juices.) You are pretty safe with all vegetables.

  • Figs,
  • Olives,
  • Apricots (dried as snack three),
  • Avocados,
  • Carrots,
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach,
  • Cabbage,
  • Dates (three on salads),
  • Kiwis,
  • Limes,
  • Raspberries,
  • Strawberries,
  • Asparagus,
  • Bananas,
  • Celery,
  • Beetroot
  • Coconut water (in moderation if on Blood Pressure medication)
  • Melon,
  • Lettuce,
  • Parsley,
  • Pineapple,
  • Nectarines,
  • Cherries,
  • Grapefruit,
  • Tomatoes,
  • Cucumber,
  • Cauliflower,
  • Lemons,
  • String beans,
  • Peaches,
  • Mushrooms (Shitake if not too expensive),
  • Watermelon,
  • Courgettes,
  • Apples
  • Pears.

Are most fruit and vegetables alkaline forming?

Yes they are which is why I so often encourage people to move to a much higher level of vegetables and moderate fruit content in their diet. Ideally 80% of your diet should be unprocessed, fresh and preferably raw foods.

However we are not going to go that far to begin with so I have set a 20% guideline for animal proteins, 30% for grains etc. and 50% for fruit and vegetables.

Some other neutral foods that you can use in moderation in the 20% field are the oils and butter and milk. These are classified, as neutral but should be used carefully if you are hoping to lose some weight.

What about sauces for foods?

It is much better to make your own sauces from natural ingredients. It is the sugars in processed sauces that cause much of the acid effect. You can use olive oil or a little butter on vegetables and make salad dressings with olive oil and herbs. I find now that sauces, unless they are very light have become very cloying and take away the natural taste of the food.

Putting the Plan into practice

A really good alkaline start to the day is the juice of half a lemon in hot water. Despite being an acid fruit, lemons are alkaline forming and also get your intestines moving. It also gives you a jolt of vitamin C.. I use an enamel protecting toothpaste and that is one thing to consider when having lemon juice every day.

Rotating your foods is always a good idea as most of us can build up an intolerance to foods that we eat every day and this can have an acidic effect on the body. I have given you some guidelines for rotating certain foods such as carbohydrates to not only get the maximum benefit from them but to also minimise any intolerances you might have.

Carbohydrates should be 30% of your daily intake.

wholegrainsThe latest word from some of the experts in the field of nutrition is that you should drastically limit your grains in your diet. There is certainly evidence to suggest that a high intake of refined grains are not beneficial and might lead to health problems.

However, there is one very good reason for that. They are industrially produced and contain little nutrition, too many additives and usually a lot of added sugar. If you eat a great deal of cookies, processed white bread, certain breakfast cereals and cakes you will be ingesting sugars which are highly acidic.

A proportion of your diet should include wholegrains that have been minimally processed so that you obtain all the nutrition including B-vitamins that are stripped when refined. You also need the fibre they contain and by eating wholegrains you can reduce your protein levels and help reduce their acid content.

Suggested Carbohydrates

  • Whole-wheat or wholegrain bread, (home made without preservatives and minimum sugar is best – here is a recipe for my own which I eat – Yeast free Irish Soda Bread
  • whole-wheat Pitta breads,
  • shredded wheat,
  • whole-wheat pasta,
  • Rye Crisp breads,
  • Pumpernickel,
  • Porridge oats,
  • Sugar free muesli,
  • Brown Basmati Rice,
  • Oatcakes
  • Potatoes with skins boiled, mashed or baked

As you will see I have grouped these together in approximate wheat, corn, rice and oat days with the occasional potato thrown in.

If you have a wheat intolerance only eating it every 4 to 5 days may well help you with any related allergy symptoms.   Your body is designed to remove toxins from the body efficiently provided you are only eating them every four or five days.

Proteins and Fats – 20% of your daily intake.

Variety is important and whilst there is a generally a warning about eating too much red meat, if you rotate your proteins you will get the benefit from the the individual nutritional benefits.. For example B vitamins in the red meat and Omega Fatty Acids in fish..

We need protein and also some acid forming foods in our diet otherwise the balance goes too far the other way. We also need healthy fat and apart from extra virgin olive oil, lean protein with a little fat is not harmful. If you do not suffer from arthritis or acid digestive problems, eating a little more lean protein should not be a problem.

  • Lean meat beef, lamb, fish both healthy fat varieties such as salmon and white fish, chicken, turkey, Feta cheese, eggs etc.
  • Try to get organic if you can but good quality anyway.
  • Use olive oil for cooking and on bread wherever possible.
  • Use grass fed butter as a spread rather than hydrogenated margarine.
  • For snacking eat walnuts (14 per day), almonds, Seeds such as pumpkin (all unsalted).
  • Use avocado a couple of times a week as a vegetarian alternative. You can also use tofu but watch any fat it is mixed with.
  • Avoid salted processed meats such as bacon and ham except for once a week as this is acid forming.

Fruit and Vegetables – Minimum 50% of your diet.

  • Eat what you like from the list of alkaline forming foods above.
  • If you like to drink fresh fruit juice, unsweetened are best – they are available freshly squeezed in the supermarket or make at home, but need to be drunk on the day. I do suggest especially if you are trying to lose weight that you dilute with some sparkling mineral water, halving the sugar content.
  • Most fruit juices are made with the higher sugar variety including oranges which burns to an acid ash. I suggest going with vegetable juices such as carrot.
  • Drink plenty of water, herbal teas etc. and what you like from the list of alkaline forming foods above.

N.B The above guidelines are suggested to reduce your acidity especially if you are already experiencing related chronic diseases such as arthritis. After six weeks you should experience more energy, better skin tone and less of the aches and pains we associate with getting older.

Make a note of your symptoms such as joint pain, headaches, lack of energy at this point and then make a note of how you are feeling each week. I would be interested to get your feedback at the end of the six weeks.

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three 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, radio programmes 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 2021

 

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will join me again next week for part four of this series and the impact of declining hormones on our body. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Recipes that Pack a Punch – Main Meal – Brown Rice Pilaf – Multi-Vitamin on a plate by Sally Cronin


In this series I will be sharing recipes that pack a punch of nutrition and still taste delicious. By now you know that I believe in a ‘cook from scratch’ approach to preparing meals and I have followed that philosophy for over forty years. In my mid-20s I was cooking food for 110 growing children three times a day, and the focus had to be on the nutrition as well as the taste. As a nutritional therapist for the last 25 years, I have shared these recipes with my clients to ensure that they never went hungry or deficient in the essential nutrients their bodies needed to be healthy.

Main Meal of the Day

This recipe is for a main meal and can be eaten either at lunch time or for dinner.. However, if you are eating in the evening then I recommend that you eat at least three hours before you go to bed so that your digestive system is processing it as you get try to get to sleep. Also as you will not necessarily be as active in the evening, you might think about halving the amount of wholegrain rice. Despite being a healthy carbohydrate it is not going to be burnt off as your body goes in to standby mode overnight.

I know that if you have been following the blog for the last seven years or so, you will have seen this recipe before, but for those of new to the blog you might find it a useful illustration of how you can pack a plate with not just food but nutrients.

My philosophy about food is very simple. ‘Cook from Scratch’ avoiding industrialised foods that have been infused with chemical enhancers and gift-wrapped in plastic. This does not mean that you stop eating the occasional food that comes in a packet or carton.. but if you eat at least 80% of your food from fresh produce with only 20% that is manufactured you are doing pretty well.

However, all of us go through times when we might need a little additional help and that is where taking the right supplements is useful.

And the word supplement means in addition to not instead of. Your body is designed to process food to extract the nutrients that it requires and many supplements on the market, especially the cheaper brands may not be in a form that your body can utilise.

You can reproduce some of those often expensive vitamin and mineral supplements yourself, and here is my version.

This dish contains most of the food groups and a great many of the nutrients we require on a daily basis. Protein, wholegrain carbohydrates, good fats and a wide range of nutrients.  Whilst it makes a delicious main meal for the family you can make it in bulk and keep some in the fridge for two to three days and freeze portions for later in the week. You only need a couple of large serving spoons to get a great nutritional boost.

DSC_1207awBut before I give you the recipe I would like to show you how this meal is in fact a delicious form of a multi-vitamin pill that the body understands and you will gain more benefit from.

This recipe provides you with a great vitamin B-Punch. I am only including those nutrients that are available in a higher concentration, but I think it illustrates that if you compare this to the information on your multivitamin supplement; you are getting most of what you need in this simple to make dish.

Ingredients with main nutritional elements.

Brown rice (I use Brown Basmati) – any form of brown rice will contain more of the nutrients as it loses only the outer layer of the grain called the hull. During the process that turns brown rice to white rice it loses 67% of its vitamin B3 (niacin) 80% of B1, 90% of B6 – half of its manganese and phosphorus, 60% of its iron and all the dietary fibre and essential fatty acids. Do you realise that to make white rice acceptable as a food it has to be artificially enriched with B1 B3 and iron? It is amazing the difference that processing a food can have on its nutritional content. It also contains selenium and copper.

Olive Oil – Omega 9 Fatty Acid and Vitamin E. Inflammatory disease throughout the body is one of the leading causes of health problems for major organs such as the heart and brain. Using Extra Virgin Olive oil even in cooking helps reduce inflammation in the body. Also contains Vitamin E.

Onions and Garlic Folate, B1, B6 Vitamin C, biotin, manganese, copper, chromium, quercitin, potassium, phosphorus – heart health, blood sugar levels, inflammation, digestive system.

Red Peppers – Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, Folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, phosphorus, magnesium. Antioxidant.

MushroomsFolate, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, copper, selenium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, manganese and a great source of protein.

Walnuts – Omega 3 fatty acids, copper, manganese and biotin. Heart health.

Spinach – Vitamin K, Vitamins A, Folate, B1, B2, B6, C, E, Calcium and potassium.

Tuna/SalmonOmega 3 fatty acids, vitamins B3, B6, B12, selenium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, potassium.

Eggs – Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Folic Acid, Vitamin A, B2, B5, B12, D (very important) E, iron, iodine, selenium. (Research is indicating that having an egg a day is not harmful as unhealthy cholesterol is not caused by eating natural foods containing it but in eating industrial foods with high sugar levels and commercially manufactured fats).

Ingredients for four servings. You can freeze three portions and use as needed.

  • 225gm /8oz of wholegrain rice (you can add some wild rice for flavour)
  • 15ml/ 1 tbsp. Extra Virgin olive oil. (Recent research has indicated that this is safe to heat for cooking but do not burn).
  • 30gm real butter (Spreads that contain half and half butter and margarine are also full of additives) Better to have a little of the real dairy fat.
  • 1 large finely chopped onion.
  • Half a red pepper
  • Handful of mushrooms, button or shitake and as an alternative protein.
  • 10 chopped walnuts.
  • 4 oz. of finely chopped spinach or dandelion leaves.
  • Any leftover vegetables from the day before.
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic.
  • 1 teaspoon mild pimiento
  • Your choice of protein – One Egg per person, chicken, salmon, tuna, lean bacon or a mix of various kinds.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

To prepare

  1. Wash the rice under cold running water until clear and drain to remove dust and any remaining debris. Cook until tender in boiling water for 20/25 minutes either on the stove or in a rice cooker in the microwave.
  2. Hard boil four eggs. (A little tip is to put a teaspoon of bicarbonate in the water and it will make the eggs much easier to peel).
  3. In a frying pan melt your butter into the olive oil and cook your bacon and remove from the pan. Add finely chopped onions, red pepper, mushrooms and garlic with a pinch of salt, the pimiento and a sprinkle of pepper to the bacon infused oil and butter and cook until soft. Add the bacon back in and then stir in the chopped spinach and walnuts.
  4. Drain your rice and I usually pour boiling water over it in the colander to remove any starch residue. Add in one large serving spoon per person to the pan and on a low heat blend the rice through the ingredients.
  5. Add in your cooked protein such as chicken, tuna or salmon or cooked shrimp.
  6. Serve in a bowl and garnish with a hardboiled egg.

Variations.

Add in the vegetables you enjoy to the base recipe and you can jazz it up for dinner parties as guests love the variety. You can also eat this cold. Keep in the fridge in a sealed container and serve with a garden salad.  It will keep for a day or two and you can reheat with a small amount of stock in a large frying pan or reheat in the microwave.

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021

 

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three 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, radio programmes 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 2021

Thanks for joining me for this series and as always delighted to receive your feedback… keep young at heart… thanks Sally.