Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round up 18th – 24th October 2020 – Streisand, Seasonal Affective Disorder, War Poets, Authors, Books, Reviews and Funnies


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

Ireland is back in level 5 lockdown until December 1st, and then depending on progress, we might be let out again for Christmas, although not entirely sure that allowing more interaction will not result in another upsurge in January. I wonder if they will extend the restrictions until the New Year and have just chosen the 1st December to keep us hopeful?

I do feel very sorry for the small businesses who have spent time and money putting in social distancing measures and were only just gaining ground after the last lockdown. At this time of year especially, most will be relying on the seasonal trade and I just hope that they will come through it. Some are offering their products on Amazon for example and it would be great to think that people will choose to buy local.

We have not really come out of lockdown as I go out just once a week for  fresh produce and since June I have been for a trim to the hairdressers twice. I was just working myself up to making a new appointment for this week when the restrictions were announced. So I trimmed the front and David trimmed the back in the garden.  I did tip him of course.

Last week I shared some good news stories and this week I thought you might like this photograph that demonstrates not just the connection we have with wild animals but that some have a sense of fun. This whale enjoys playing with the tourist boats by pushing them around his patch of the ocean. I would love to have been a passenger.

Gray Whale Plays Pushing Tourists’ by Joseph Cheires – Baja California, Mexico

My thanks to William Price King and D.G. Kaye this week for their musical and humorous contributions.. and to you for dropping by and liking, commenting and sharing..

Life and Music of Barbra Streisand Part Four 1980s/1990s and films

For the next few Sundays I am sharing some of the interviews with regular visitors to the blog dating back to 2015 onwards.

Guest Interviews 2015 – A Funny Thing Happened, #Relationships D.G. Kaye

My Parent’s visit – Part Three – The Alamo and Natural Bridge Caverns

– Chapter Twelve – Car Rides and move to Spain

Milestones Along the Way – #Ireland #Waterford 1950s – The Sea Angler’s Club by Geoff Cronin

#Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs – Fashion Department and Shoplifters

#Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs – Cut Glass Crystal and a Smashing start

#Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs – Telesales and Helping Farmers pick the right Bull

#Mystery #Paranormal – Harbinger (Wake-Robin Ridge Book 3) by Marcia Meara

Past Book Reviews 2018 – #Thriller – Lies by T. M. Logan

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In Remembrance – The War Poets – Vera Brittain

UnSeasonal Affective Disorder #Lockdown #Elderly – Part One

UnSeasonal Affective Disorder – The Missing Link – Vitamin D

Chamomile Essential Oil

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Share your review – Darlene Foster reviews The Jigsaw Puzzle King by Gina McMurchy-Barber

 

Author updates – #Wartime D.L. Finn, #History Barbara Ann Mojica

#Mythology – King of the Asphodels by David Jordan

-#Vaudeville Elizabeth Gauffreau, #DieselPunk Teagan Riordain Geneviene, #Pilgrims Noelle Granger

New #Poetry Balroop Singh, Reviews #Mystery Lizzie Chantree, #SouthernContemporary Claire Fullerton

#Family James J. Cudney, #WWII Robbie Cheadle and Elsie Haney Eaton, #Fantasy D. Wallace Peach

October 20th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Fatbits and Ducks.

October 22nd 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Rabbits and Replacement Windows

Some old favourites and a joke or two host Sally Cronin

Thank you so much for visiting today and I hope you have a great weekend.. Stay safe…Sally.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Vitamin D works with our immune system.

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

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

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

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

Supplementation Pharmacy News

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

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

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

How do we get sufficient Vitamin D?

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

The link to cholesterol

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

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

Plant source of Vitamin D2

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

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

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

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

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

Artificial Sunlight.

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

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

Food sources of Vitamin D

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cod liver oil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

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

 

Smorgasbord Health Column – UnSeasonal Affective Disorder #Lockdown #Elderly – Part One by Sally Cronin


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

Care homes and lockdown

Usually care homes have some garden or outside facilities for residents to walk and interact with each other in daylight and sunshine in particular, but with lock down over the summer months that has been in the main prohibited. Also elderly who live in sheltered housing, apartments and other homes without back gardens have also been denied that very important immune boosting few months before winter hits.

The Summer

The weather here is not brilliant but we can usually rely on about six weeks of summer but this year that has not been the case with more rain than usual and grey days.  I know that is mirrored in much of the UK and combined with restrictions on exercise, and now the wearing of masks, none of us have recharged our Vitamin D batteries effectively. Holidays outside of our own local area were only allowed for a brief few weeks and not every family was able to take advantage of that lifting of restrictions. Hundreds of thousands of tourists who might have got a boost by hitting foreign beaches were also unable to do so this year and whilst just 14 days is not sufficient to last all winter, it certainly gives Vitamin D levels a much needed boost.

The Winter ahead.

Many of us face the threat of another more restrictive lockdown in coming weeks and with six months of winter ahead our access to sunlight, fresh air and exercise is going to be further restricted. This includes for example, those retirees who normally head off to the sunshine states in America or an apartment in the south of Europe who will be unable to do so because of  restrictions on travel or quarantine measures.

Children in school may not be getting as much playtime as normal, and certainly the weather during the next few months is going to prohibit that to a greater extent.

This puts thousands of men, women and children at further risk of contracting influenza and colds, and possibly Covid-19.

Diet

For the last six months a high percentage of elderly and at risk men and women have been reliant on food deliveries or others to buy their food. There has also been a reliance on packaged food bought to stock larders in case of shortages. Whilst many will have managed to obtain fresh produce, there will be some who have had a nutritionally poor diet for the last six months. Without those essential nutrients, they are going into the winter months without the necessary protection.

I am going to post two parts of this series a week as I do believe that we are going to have to be responsible for beating the effects of SAD which already seems to be making its presence felt.

Here is a little more about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

The typical symptoms of SAD include depression, lack of energy, increased need for sleep, a craving for sweets and weight gain. Symptoms begin in the fall, peak in the winter and usually resolve in the spring. Some individuals experience great bursts of energy and creativity in the spring or early summer. Susceptible individuals who work in buildings without windows may experience SAD-type symptoms at any time of year.

Some people with SAD have mild or occasionally severe periods of mania during the spring or summer. If the symptoms are mild, no treatment may be necessary. If they are problematic, then a mood stabilizer such as Lithium might be considered. There is a smaller group of individuals who suffer from summer depression.

I believe that a great many more people currently have fallen into that latter group due to lock down and are already suffering from this condition.

My experience with SAD.

I loved summer in Madrid where we lived most of the time for 17 years – long sunny days, heat of the sun as I worked in the garden or swam (lots of Vitamin D and more about that on Friday), crisp salads and lots of fish and protein, being tanned (safely of course) and sitting at 10 at night watching the sun going down. Autumn was also a very pleasant season – beautiful colours in the garden – still sunny days – little nip in the air – prospect of getting the leather jacket out of the depths of the wardrobe, a move to slightly more carbohydrates in the diet. Nuts and seeds, porridge with a little honey…lovely.

Then winter……………for millions of people around the world the lights go off. Add the fact that for many of those millions, their diet consists of white fats, grains and sugars and their bodies are not prepared for the plunge into darkness. And, because their diet is not going to change through the winter months the symptoms of SAD will only intensify. The symptoms are varied but include:

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

For me the last four winters have been hard. Not because it has been cold but because most days it has been grey. I do not like the dark days and although I include foods that contain Vitamin D in my daily diet I do require it in supplemental form too.. I will talk about that at the end of the series.

Over the years of working with clients in relation to their weight and other dietary issues, it was clear that during the winter months, it was substantially more difficult to lose weight

A place to start to discover the origins of SAD is the caves of our ancestors and my hypothesis as to why our bodies have not adapted to this ultra high tech modern world of ours as fast as our minds have.

The Clan of the Cave Bear

Reading Jean M. Auel’s books, starting with the Clan of the Cave Bear back in the 80’s, was a revelation for me when I was determined to sort my health and weight out. Jean was decorated by the French Government for her work and her research alongside anthropologists was evident throughout her books which I highly recommend.

I would like you to consider this.

DNA mutations occur in humans rarely, about every 10,000 to 12,000 years. So for the sake of argument let us take a quick trip back in time.

Neanderthals, Prehistoric, Mountains

During the summer months the clan would hunt, fish, gather nuts and seeds, possibly some root vegetables and some green edible shoots and leaves. All would have been seasonal and most would have been consumed at the time. However, fats from their meats would have been used along with nuts and seeds to make long lasting cake and stored probably in gourds or leaves and used by hunters heading out as well as for the winter months. Meat and fish was dried in the sun both at the time of the hunt and for transport back to the cave but also during the months of abundance for consumption in the winter months.

nuts and seedsAutumn in particular would have been a wonderful opportunity for finding fruit, seeds and nuts and of course these could be sweetened with honey.

Night, Moon, Allgäu, Mountains, Alpine

Then came the dark of winter – there are various theories about when fire was discovered but probably quite early on from natural events such as lightening strikes that caused bushes to combust, and as man developed he would have exploited this resource – probably 10,000 years ago someone had discovered that liquid fat in a gourd burns and provided light but for all intents and purposes the dark came and stayed for many months.

Apart from opportune kills and for the lucky ones on the coast who could fish, the reliance was on stored foods. If it had been a lousy hunting season and poor autumn for nuts and seeds, many starved to death, especially the very young and elderly. What do you do in the dark months anyway? Most babies were born in the late spring! Still happens today in the winter months following winter power outages!

Imagine a world without any stimulation except for a few brief hours a day when you would rush around getting firewood if available – collecting water or snow in the depths of winter for drinking water, hunting for the few animals still awake. Then back to the cave where I guess apart from interaction between the clan, working in dim light on essential tasks, it would be nibbling on the sweet stored cake and the dried meat and then sleeping until the sun came up the next day.

Back to the present day, for our minds perhaps; but I believe that our bodies have not evolved enough yet. Remember that our world that we know and understand with all its sophisticated technology is really only around 150 years old. Our DNA is about 9,850 years adrift. Therefore, SAD is not a disorder, illness or disease but our natural winter state.

And, if you are going to try and alleviate the symptoms associated with this natural, semi hibernating condition, you need to do so with the right type of diet and exercise.

If you have been reading my blog about some of our modern lifestyle diseases you will have already twigged that the diet that I enjoy and have introduced to my clients, readers and listeners over the years is simply this.

  • Natural unprocessed meats,
  • Healthy Fats such as olive oil and butter
  • Moderate wholegrains
  • Poultry
  • Oily fish
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Root Vegetables
  • Green Vegetables
  • Seasonal Fruits
  • Honey
  • Minimum industrially manufactured foods

As you can see nothing new in history and not something I invented but my great grandmother several times removed. Meet Helena – The first of my clan circa 20,000 years ago

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Our diet is critical if we are to avoid experiencing the symptoms of SAD during the next few months until spring. We need to ensure that we are consuming fresh foods that contain nutrients that are necessary for the chemical reactions in the brain and our bloodstream that maintain our physical, mental and emotional well-being..

In the following posts I am going to be writing about the most important ingredients in our food that will encourage our bodies to stay well and also promote emotional and mental health as we head into the winter months…..Including Vitamin D and Tryptophan.

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2020

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

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

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

 

 

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – 11th -17th October 2020 -Jazz, Elephant’s Ears, Pumpkin Flower Fritters and Rennaisance Festival


Welcome to the round up with posts that you might have missed during the week on Smorgasbord.

I hope that despite the increase in cases in most of our countries, you are staying safe. With politics and Covid-19 it is hard to find some good news headlines but tucked away you can find a gem or two.

Canadian Researchers Gave Homeless People $7500 Each And The Results Are So Uplifting

Challenging the stereotypes of homeless people in Canada, a research project from a Vancouver-based charitable organization found that simply giving money to homeless people isn’t as bad an idea as some people might think. Read more: Good News Network

New Fix-It Clinic is Using Zoom and Global Community to Help You Repair Items For Free

How many YouTube tutorials does it take to screw in a lightbulb? One—if that many.

Fixit Clinic

But when you need to fix something that’s beyond your level of DIY expertise, with nearly a bazillion videos offering differing and sometimes conflicting repair advice, it can be hard to know where to turn—or, at least it was until the advent of Fixit Clinic Read more about this great initiative: The Good News Network

So if you need a bit of a lift and a change from the daily litany of pessimism head over to The Good News Network

On the home front the last couple of days I have been moving pot plants around, taking some around the back of the garden to see out the next few months and setting out the winter flowering plants. Not a very bright day but with rain coming in for the next ten days I took the opportunity to take some photographs…

Time to get on with the posts from the week….

William Price King with American Jazz drummer and bandleader Art Blakey

‘T’ for Tea and Toast, Turmeric, Tobasco, Tahini, Tamarind and Elephant’s Ears (it is a T)

how a pumpkin flower fritter looks like

Pumpkin Flowers Fritters: at the Pumpkin Patch

Life Changing Moments – I knew that there was a book inside me waiting to be written by Joyce Hampton

#Thriller – Skeleton Run by John L. DeBoer

#Afghatinstan #MilitaryDogs Patricia Furstenburg, #History #Tudors Tony Riches

My parent’s visit – Part Two – Rennaisance Festival, Anniversary Party and nearly lights out!

Poetry – In Remembrance – The War Poets – Rupert Brooke

Photograph by Cris Saur @crisaur

Pot Luck – Poetry Friday ~ Wild Fire by Vashti Quiroz-Vega

Milestones Along the Way – #Ireland #Waterford 1950s The Saga of Selby

Chapter Eleven – Favourite Walks in Ireland

#Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs – Hotel Senior Receptionist

#Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs – Hotel Assistant Manager

#Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs -The Sheep Farm

#Reviews Dawn Doig, Emily-Jane Hills Orford and Wanda Luthman

#ParanormalThriller – This Last Chance by D.L. Finn

#Memoir Brigid P. Gallagher , #Sci-fi Richard Dee, #Mystery Diana J. Febry

#Pre-Historic Jacqui Murray, #Fantasy Deborah Jay, #Mystery Amy M. Reade

#Paranormal Marcia Meara, #Fantasy A. J. Alexander, #MurderMystery Jessica Norrie

Image wikipedia.

Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Essential Oils and Aromatherapy – Bergamot essential oil

Omega 3s

The endocrine system and hormones Part Two

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – Oct 13th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

October 15th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

October 16th 2020 – Another Open Mic Night with author Daniel Kemp

Thank you very much for dropping and all your support, have a great weekend and I hope you will join me again next week.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – The endocrine system and hormones Part Two by Sally Cronin


Last week I shared the glands and their functions within the Endocrine System

More about Hormones

Hormones are some of the most powerful chemical messengers found in the body and are secreted by glands that transfer information and instructions from one set of cells to another. They circulate throughout the body but will only affect those cells that have been programmed to respond to their specific message. All hormone levels can be influenced by our general health, stress levels and the balance of fluid and minerals such as salt in the blood stream. This is the reason that it is necessary to have a healthy and balanced lifestyle and diet to ensure the reproductive system is functioning, as it should.

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 and maintaining a good diet and active lifestyle influence a healthy and functioning reproductive system.

Each gland within the endocrine system 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 therefore blood sugar levels remain balanced.

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.

A vital element of hormone production is Cholesterol Yes that demon that in the 80s and 90s was banished from our diet in the form of healthy fats and foods such as eggs! We were all recommended to follow a high carbohydrate, low fat diet and of course now we have done a complete U-turn. Not surprisingly this has had a huge impact on our health including increasing rates of obesity, cancer and dementia. Healthy fats and all cholesterol are essential for healthy hormone production, brain and heart health. It is only when the Low Density cholesterol or LDL is oxidised by poor diet, including too many sugars that it can become a health issue.

Whatever the level of hormones produced by particular glands, if they are not communicating when they get to their destination – such as the thyroid gland, kidneys or ovaries – they will not be effective and the ongoing functions they are supposed to stimulate will not be completed. This includes the reproductive process which requires the balance of all most of the hormones for successful production, fertilisation and then development of the egg by a sperm.

How do we create the perfect environment to produce and maintain our hormones?

You cannot go far wrong by eating an 80% natural diet with a wide variety of fresh vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, wholegrain carbohydrates and fruits. Having healthy hormones is more about what you don’t eat, and the one food that it is a good idea to cut right back is sugars. This is not to say that you should go sugar free especially when the sugar comes from natural sources such as fruits. I do mean the chemically engineered additives in most industrial foods (ie. If it comes in a packet, can or jar). There are certain health benefits to be found in dark chocolate over 52% for example but eating 100gms at a time will just make you fat! A couple of squares a day should do the trick.

What is very important in your diet?

Omega 3sOne 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. They basically 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 too. They are required for energy production, increasing oxidation in the body and metabolic rates. Omega 3 in particular is considered to provide protection against certain cancers including breast cancer.

They are particularly important in balancing all hormones, including the reproductive ones, and 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 is particularly important with regard to the health of the hypothalamus which is our master controller.

What part do amino acids play in hormone production?

Amino acids are the building blocks that make up protein, 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 having sufficient of this amino acid can help with prostate problems. L-Tryptophan helps in the production of serotonin and melatonin and assists in the balance of our 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), it will have a knock on effect on the health of the others:

  • 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 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.

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2020

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

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

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

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – October 4th – 10th 2020 – Streisand, Narcissism, Dog Sitting, Mending Fences, books, reviews and funnies


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

So here we are all again and how quickly time flies when you are enjoying yourself…I say that without a trace of sarcasm honestly… if it were not for the blog and for the daily visits from all of you I think I would have found the last 8 months very difficult.

Not that there are not things that need to be done! – I have not got anymore housework done that I do normally (which is not a great deal). There is the matter of the short story collection due out in November to finish, two novels, a large tapestry of an elephant and her baby, the summer clothes as yet unworn to be put away back in their winter quarters, and winter clothes to be ironed and put back on hangers. I will leave the sequin jacket and dancing shoes where they are as we won’t be doing any partying anytime soon…although a quick shuffle around the dining room is not out of the question to the right music.

I do have 35 books awaiting reading and reviewing and I am trying to do that in a timely fashion. I know that at the end of the month I will be heading off to Amazon again to buy another ten or twelve that have been recommended by others here or I have spotted on others’ blogs. One of the downsides of promoting authors and reading through their reviews to showcase but I am not complaining, just my TBR like most of yours.

I have also been doing some updated research on a number of health conditions and despite the Covid – 19 focus on getting a vaccine and treatments, there are still some interesting advances in other areas of medical research.. I will be putting together a new Health in the News in November.

The author spotlight ends tomorrow, but I went through my files and unearthed some author interviews from 2015 onwards for authors who are very much a part of my community and I will be repeating those on Sundays up to the end of the year. I have updated with their current books and reviews and I hope you will enjoy again after all this time.

I hope you have enjoyed the week as much as I have and my thanks as always to the contributors who take time and a great deal of thought to put together interesting and entertaining posts.. this week William Price King shares part three of the Barbra Streisand story and you can find William’s own posts and also very kindly a selection of Smorgasbord’s on his  Blog– IMPROVISATION William Price King on Tumblr

Also this week D.G. Kaye, Debby Gies shares her wisdom on narcissism in the family and some of the reasons behind this insidious and damaging mental issue. Also thanks to my guest Jane Sturgeon for her entertaining life changing moment…

And a special thank you to author Judith Barrow who has kindly set up a directory on her blog to share posts from Smorgasbord.. a huge honour thanks Judith Judith Barrow Blog

Thank you for supporting all of us and it is much appreciated.

Life and Music of Barbra Streisand Part Three -collaborations in the 1970s and 1980s

D. G. Kaye Explores the Realms of Relationships -October 2020 -Envy, Jealousy, Bullying – A Path to Narcissism?

Life Changing Moments – Dog Sitting with a twist or two by Jane Sturgeon

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Chapter Ten – Sleepovers with new friends

Shakespeare and Traditional Fencing Methods

20th Anniversary #Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs – The Steak House Part Two by Sally Cronin

Pub landlady Cowes Isle of Wight

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Poetry – In Remembrance – The War Poets – Edmund Blunden

-My parents arrive – Part One – Stetsons, Yellow Roses, Pappasito’s and Chi Chis

Western #Horror #Thriller – Guns of Perdition – The Armageddon Showdown Book 1 by Jessica Bakkers

Past Book Reviews – #IrishHistory Andrew Joyce, #Shortstories Mary Smith

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The endocrine system and hormones Part One

Essential Oils and Aromatherapy – Oils, origins, uses and Safety – Part Two

Summer 2020- Pot Luck- Book Reviews by Vashti Quiroz-Vega

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Share your Children’s book reviews – #PictureBooks with Jennie Fitzkee Part Two

Sam the Speedy Sloth by Matthew Ralph reviewed by Barbara Ann Mojica

#Fantasy D. Wallace Peach Reviews #YAFantasy Heather Kindt, #Contemporary Carol LaHines, #ShortStories Elizabeth Merry

#Poetry Geoff Le Pard, Reviews -#Dystopian Harmony Kent, #WWII Marina Osipova

#Poetry Frank Prem, Reviews #Crime Jane Risdon, #Thriller Gwen Plano

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – Oct 6th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

October 8th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Protests and Clean Plates

Host Sally Cronin – What do you mean I can’t park here?

 

Thanks again for dropping by and as always your feedback is much appreciated… Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – The endocrine system and hormones Part One by Sally Cronin


The human body is a complex entity that requires power (nutrients and oxygen) and a round the clock production schedule to make sure that the nutrients that we take in are converted to all the chemical components required to keep us functioning healthily. One of the most important production lines is created by the endocrine system ensuring that the right messages are sent to the various organs to keep them running at full capacity.  Recently I shared the main components required to keep those messages circulating Cholesterol Part Three

The endocrine system and hormones Part One

One of the miracles of the human body is the way it ensures the survival of the species over millions of years. For example, baby girls are born with over 400,000 eggs in their ovaries and over the next 10 to 12 years their endocrine system will mature and various physical, mental and emotional changes will take place to ensure that as a woman, she will be able to give birth to the next generation.

Hormones are vital not just to an efficient reproductive system but to our health in general.. Their protection is essential and maintaining adequate levels throughout our lifetime can be a challenge. And it is not helped by pronouncements by ‘experts’ on the food we eat and the medication that they prescribe to reduce one of the key elements of our hormone production which is cholesterol.

The Endocrine system not only produces the sex hormones but also the other hormones necessary for the healthy growth and development of every cell, organ and function within our bodies. Usually responsible for the slower processes such as cell growth, the endocrine glands and hormones will also work with other systems such as the nervous system to ensure the smooth running of processes like breathing and movement.

Glands

A gland is a group of cells that produce and secretes chemicals from materials that it has selected from the blood stream. It processes these raw materials and either secretes the end product in specific areas, such as the salivary glands or sweat glands in the case of the exocrine glands, or directly back into the bloodstream from the endocrine system.

The main glands that make up the endocrine system are the hypothalamus, pituitary (master gland), thyroid, parathyroids, adrenals, pineal, ovaries and testes.

The pancreas is also part of the endocrine system but is associated more with the digestive system and digestive enzymes.

A healthy reproductive system for men or women begins in the brain.

Main-parts-of-the-Brain-72dpiThe 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 and is often referred to as the Master Gland.

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

The Pituitary gland

The pituitary gland has an anterior and posterior lobe. The anterior lobe regulates the activity of the thyroid, adrenals and the reproductive glands producing a number of hormones.

  • Growth hormone stimulates the growth of bone and body tissues and plays a part in the metabolism of nutrients and minerals.
  • Prolactin, which activates milk production in mothers who are breast-feeding.
  • Thyrotropin which stimulates the thyroid to produce hormones.
  • Corticotrophin which stimulates the adrenal glands to produce its hormones.
  • Gonadotrophs are cells that secret the two hormones that stimulate hormone production in the ovaries and testes. These are called luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and whilst not essential to life are essential to reproduction.

The pituitary gland also secretes endorphins, which act as natural pain relief within the nervous system. It is also the gland that releases hormones that signal the ovaries and testes to make the sex hormones and controls the ovulation and menstrual cycle.

The posterior lobe of the pituitary has two main functions one of which is the release of a hormone to control water balance through its effect on the kidneys and urine output. The second is the release of oxytocin the trigger for contractions of the womb during labour.

The Thyroid

The thyroid is located in the front of the lower neck and is shaped like a bow tie. It produces the hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine which are responsible for the speed with which cells burn fuel to provide energy. This is our metabolism or the speed at which we operate. The production and release of these two hormones is controlled by Thyrotropin, which is secreted by the pituitary gland.

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.

The Parathyroids

Attached to the thyroid are four tiny glands that release parathyroid hormone that is responsible with calcitonin also produced in the thyroid 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

The Adrenal glands

The Adrenal glands are actually situated on top of each kidney and comprise two parts. The first is the cortex, which produces hormones called corticosteroids, which determine male characteristics, sex drive, stress response, metabolism and the excretion of sodium and potassium from the kidneys.

The second part of the gland is the medulla, which produces catecholamines such as epinephrine (adrenaline) to increase blood pressure and heart rate in times of danger or stress.

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 ageing process because like anything that is not maintained 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 and infertility.

The Pineal gland

This gland is located in the middle of the brain and secretes melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep cycles. Being tired all the time will certainly not help maintain a healthy hormone balance.

Ovaries and Testes

These two glands are known as the gonads and are the main source for the sexual hormones. In the female these are the ovaries.. They secrete oestrogen and progesterone as needed, particularly in girls who have reached puberty and are developing breasts and layers of fat around the hips and thighs that would be used primarily to nourish a foetus during pregnancy. Both hormones regulate the menstrual cycle, which is why an imbalance can cause irregular periods or infertility.

Oestrogen hormones include estradiol, estrone and estriol and as well as their role in the developing female they also have important effects on organs outside of the reproductive system. In fact they have an effect on over 300 different tissues throughout a woman’s body including in the central nervous system, liver and the urinary tract. One of their functions is in maintaining bone mass as a woman ages, particularly after the menopause. They also have a positive effect on blood fat and therefore help prevent atherosclerosis and possible heart disease. As we age our skin tends to thicken and oestrogen hormones help preserve the elasticity of the skin as well as promote a sense of general wellbeing.

Progesterone also has duties outside of its reproductive remit and that is its influence on body temperature. This is why taking your temperature every morning during the month can help you pinpoint when you might be ovulating.

As these hormones diminish so does the activity within the ovaries. They become smaller and lighter and the blood vessels that supply them atrophy. The follicles decrease in number and fewer and fewer eggs are produced sometimes skipping several months at a time resulting in irregular periods. Eventually egg production ceases completely, as does menstruation, and after twelve months you are usually unlikely to conceive but it is recommended that you still practice birth control for up to two years after completely finishing your periods.

Thyroid image http://www.medicinenet.com

Next week a closer look at hormones and how the food we eat has a direct impact on their effectiveness.

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2020

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

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

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

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – September 27th – October 3rd – Don Shirley, Salsa, The Pack, Books, Reviews, Health and Laughter.


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

The weeks may be flying passed rapidly as we head into autumn and nature at least seems to be keeping to its schedule.. The news headlines are not improving with regard to Covid 19 and it seems that even those who have levels of protection we are not provided still are at risk. Our own Prime Minister and other cabinet members have been infected and certainly judging by the fatigue and signs of stress they are all showing, it is not something you bounce back from overnight.

All is relatively quiet in the Emerald Isles except for isolated clusters but cases have been on the rise, and hitting the younger demographic. Possibly because every person in my age bracket is wearing a mask and the majority gloves to do their shopping and stepping around each other in the supermarket in some quirky form of the samba.

The young feel invincible, and it is understandable that they are frustrated with the restrictions. Surely if they are bright enough to go to college and university, they are bright enough to understand that having 1000 strong rave until 2.00 in the morning with lots of physical contact, singing and shouting at each other over the noise of the music, and sweating as they dance, is not going to be boycotted by the virus.. Despite the fact most of the music would keep me away.

Then they wonder why there is a spike in infections two weeks later… perhaps commonsense is not on the curriculum!

Anyway enough of the grumpy old woman!

Classic Editor

On a brighter note I am hop, skipping and jumping all over the place to keep my classic editor going.. At least for the time being I still have the option and hopefully they will keep their promise until December 2021. It does involve remembering to click down options and select the classic version so you need to keep your wits about you.

Revisit to Author Interviews.

I am also doing a tidy up of my files and revisiting guest interviews over the last five years. Where information is reasonably current I am updating with the authors books and reviews and will be posting a selection of interviews on Sunday’s once the current series finishes on October 11th. The posts will take us nicely up to Christmas (sorry about using that word!) and then I will think about a new interview theme for the New Year…

My thanks as always to William Price King and Carol Taylor for their amazing contributions this week, and to you for all the support…

William Price King with Classical and Jazz Pianist Don Shirley #TheGreenBook

A – Z of Food ‘S’ for Satay, Salsa, Salmagundi, Sage, Squid and Salt Hoss

Shake the Dust off your Feet by Sherri Matthews

Chapter Nine – Other Pack Members and Respect your Elders

#Ireland #1930s – Divine Guidance

Some very odd jobs – The Shoe Department.

The Cosmetic Department

#Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs – The Steak House Part One

October 1985 – Have a Nice Day… In the Big Apple

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Part Two – Nitrate and Potassium foods and wholegrains -Get your blood flowing

Essential Oils and Aromatherapy – Oils, origins, uses and Safety – Part One

#Supernatural Adventure Eternal Road: The Final Stop by John W. Howell.

Past Book Reviews – #ParanormalThriller John W. Howell and Gwen Plano, #Thriller Toni Pike.

Share your review – Brody Cody and the Stepmother from Outer Space by Toni Pike, Reviewed by D.G. Kaye

#Thriller, Donovan: Thief for Hire: The Body on the Underwater Road by Chuck Bowie

#Psychologicalthriller – Becoming Insane by Leyla Cardena

#Poetry Denise O’Hagan, #Historical Allan Hudson, #Novel Margaret Lindsay Holton, Dystopian Terry Tyler

#Western Jan Sikes, #Contemporary Ritu Bhathal, #Mystery Richard W. Wise, New Release Anita Dawes

New Release #Family James J. Cudney, Reviews – #Thriller Susanne Leist, #Mystery Geoff Le Pard

Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Wireless doorbells and Stud Fees

Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – More Doorbells and a Talking Dog

October 2nd 2020 – Another Open Mic Night with author Daniel Kemp

 

Thank you for dropping in and I hope you have enjoyed the posts… enjoy your weekend..thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Health Column – Blood Pressure – Part Two – Nitrate and Potassium foods and wholegrains -Get your blood flowing by Sally Cronin


Last time I shared new research that has identified that natural salt that we add to our food does not deserve the bad reputation it has been handed, and that it is our reliance on industrially produced food with its added sodium and an imbalance of nutrients that is causing us issues with our blood pressure.

This week I would like to share the other nutrients that keep our blood vessels supple so that our blood flows freely around the body carrying nutrients and oxygen where they need to be.

fruit and veg bannerAs we get older we tend to start taking foods out of our diet rather than adding them in.  Food is not just to satisfy our hunger pangs or our cravings. The right foods containing the correct balance of healthy nutrients that have nourished them in their growth cycle are absolutely essential to maintain our own health.

 

The miles of blood vessels in our body need to be maintained, kept flexible and capable of pumping blood to major organs 24 hours a day for our lifespan.. you have to meet your body half way on this and provide it with what it needs to do the job right!

In the last post I mentioned that being at a healthy weight, taking moderate exercise, avoiding industrially produced foods with added sodium helped to maintain a healthy BP. Today I share at some foods that can also, eaten in moderation, help maintain that balance. They belong primarily to two groups – nitrate rich and those containing potassium.

Nitrate rich foods

Plants absorb naturally occurring nitrate in soil through their roots and it is essential to their healthy growth and development. However it has to go through some chemical adaptation to enable the plant to use efficiently and it goes through various stages to end up as amino acids and chlorophyll. We as humans can reuse those amino acids in the plants that we eat and therefore obtain these second hand benefits ourselves. There are other chemical and bacterial processes that are in play but fundamentally the end result is an easy and efficient way for us to obtain a critically important component in our essential nutrient bundle.

Nitrates are called vasodilators which mean that they dilate or widen the blood vessels in the body. This allows for a healthy blood flow which in turn provides oxygen rich blood to the heart muscle. It is effective for both arteries and veins and regulates blood flow to the heart reducing the work load on the muscle. You will find that many prescribed medications for conditions such as Angina are nitrate based.

This is why as we get into middle age it is so important to include a high quantity of high quality, raw and low processed vegetables and fruit in our diet. Five portions are simply not enough and is the minimum. Ideally I suggest that you have at least Six portions of vegetables a day and Two of fruit.

There are many nitrate vegetables and fruits in the fresh produce aisle in the supermarket or in our own gardens but these are the ones that I include in my diet regularly.

beetrootBeetroot250ml daily contains 0.2g of dietary nitrate and in studies has been shown to result in an average ten point decrease in blood pressure levels. Beetroot juice is not for the faint hearted, I don’t find the taste too bad but please do not be alarmed by the side effects. You will find that after about 24 hours you will pee and poo pink – and sometimes red!

I make a smoothie with beetroot, celery and banana two or three times a week.. Takes a little getting used to but certainly a nitrate and potassium punch. One 8oz serving is enough but you need to make on the day rather than store as the banana turns it a rather disgusting colour after an hour or so. You can add any of the following to either a savoury smoothie or a slightly sweeter one..

I find beetroot more palatable than eating the alternative of two bowls of dark green lettuce a day to obtain the same amount of dietary nitrate however if you include some of these nitrate rich foods regularly the accumulative effect will contribute to a healthier BP.

I eat an onion a day (cooked and consume the odd breath mint) and also garlic regularly and find that the combined effect is beneficial.

Here are others to include:- Broccoli, cabbage and kale, celery, rocket lettuce, string beans, pumpkins, avocados, bananas, strawberries, tomatoes and grapes.

Potassium (K) is the most essential cation (positively charged electrolyte.) It reacts with sodium and chloride to maintain a perfect working environment in and around each cell.

It is necessary for normal kidney function and it also plays a part in heart and bone health with a particular role in smooth muscle contraction. The heart muscle must maintain a smooth and regular heartbeat and correct levels of potassium in the body will help regulate this.

Some studies are indicating that low dietary potassium intake is linked to high blood pressure and that combined with calcium and magnesium rich foods can go a long way to preventing this condition from developing.

A balance of potassium, calcium and magnesium is essential to maintain bone mass and a deficiency is linked to osteoporosis.

Who might be deficient in Potassium?

With a normal healthy and balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables there should be no reason for a person to be deficient in potassium.

  • The elderly are more at risk, as total body potassium levels deplete with age.
  • Also anyone who is taking certain prescribed medication may find their potassium levels dropping, particularly if they are taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) or ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure.
  • There may be a deficit of potassium in people who store iron in excess amounts such as in the disease hemochromatosis (iron is stored in the liver and builds up causing a number of serious health conditions.
  • Taking over the counter medication such as antacids or laxatives can also cause a loss of too much potassium.
  • Insulin is another drug that can cause a decrease in potassium and therefore diabetics must watch their diet carefully to ensure that they are receiving sufficient.
  • There are occasional problems that might deplete the mineral’s stores such as a stomach upsets with diarrhoea and vomiting, excessive exercise resulting in heavy sweating, crash dieting and taking diuretics.
  • Drinking lots of tea and coffee can also increase the amount of potassium excreted in the urine.
  • It is also important that you take in sufficient amounts of magnesium rich foods to balance the levels of potassium in the body.

What happens when levels of Potassium are out of balance in the body.

If you have too much potassium in your blood it is called hyperkalemia and too little is called hypokalemia.

Hyperkalemia might be caused by a number of factors including suffering severe burns, undergoing chemotherapy or severe muscle loss through illness. There are a number of conditions that inhibit the normal excretion of potassium in the urine and these include kidney failure and a problem with the adrenal glands.

The adrenal gland makes a hormone called aldosterone that signals the body to excrete or conserve potassium based on the bodies needs and in hyperkalemia there may be less hormone produced or excreted.

Symptoms of too much potassium in your blood might be tingling in fingers and toes, muscle weakness and numbness. It can lead to irregular heartbeats and further heart problems if not treated.

Hypokalemia is more common as this is often dietary related. It can also be a result of a problem in the adrenal glands but in this case it is when the hormone aldosterone is retained causing the kidneys to conserve the potassium instead of excreting it.

The symptoms of too little potassium would include muscle pain, irritability, weakness and possibly paralysis.

There are some studies that are linking deficiency of potassium to a number of medical conditions including increased risk of stroke. Certainly in patients who already have elevated blood pressure, including dietary potassium seems to reduce the risk of stroke, but not apparently if it is given in supplementation form.

Another condition, which can result in potassium deficiency, is Inflammatory Bowel disease such as colitis or Crohn’s disease. In this case it is usual to supplement with the mineral, but only under medical supervision. A diet high in potassium will help, as foods like bananas are also very soothing for intestinal problems.

Other studies show that children who suffer from asthma and therefore have poor lung function may have diets that are too low in potassium, and there may be an improvement by increasing the amounts of fresh fruit, vegetables and fish in their diet.

If you feel that you might be suffering from a potassium deficiency a simple blood test and examination will identify the problem. It is treated with a combination of diet and supplementation but these should only be taken under medical supervision to ensure the correct dosage is given and that there are no interactions with any medications.

If you are currently taking NSAIDs such as ibuprofen you should not take potassium supplements without medical advice. This applies to ACE inhibitors (elevated blood pressure), diuretics, Heparin (blood clots), Cyclosporine (anti-rejection drug) Trimethoprim (anti-biotic) and Beta Blockers (high blood pressure). All these drugs can increase the levels of potassium in your blood leading to potential health issues.

Potassium rich foods to include in your diet.

bananasBananas – I would have great fun with my clients, and after all a good laugh is better than most medicines, when they would pronounce that they did not eat bananas because they were fattening! In my heyday I could demolish a tub of Haagen Daz Ice cream at 2000 calories and not blink and having seen my client’s food diaries they had similar tastes so making a banana the bad guy is hilarious.

For me the banana is one of nature’s gifts in a small but delicious package. Already wrapped it is easy to take with you anywhere, and comes from a family with 300 varieties and is the fourth most important staple food due to its high nutritional content. It can be eaten at any age and easily digested and has protein, B vitamins and the banana contains potassium.

I covered the need for sodium in our diet when writing about salt, but we also need potassium because it reacts with sodium and chloride to maintain a perfect environment in and around each of our cells. It is the main Cation (positively charged electrolyte) and it allows the transmission of nerve impulses and helps maintain the correct fluid balance in the body as well as helping regulate the levels of acidity and alkalinity in the body. Potassium is required for carbohydrate and protein metabolism, is connected to normal heart rhythms and without the correct balance of sodium and potassium our muscles would not work correctly and this includes our heart muscle.

With elevated blood pressure or when diets contain too much salt, potassium rich foods such as bananas help counteract the affect by dilating the blood vessels, enhancing the excretion of water and excess sodium from the body and suppressing the hormones that cause elevations in BP. You will also see from the section on nitrates that the banana also contains these too.

The banana itself has some great health benefits and appears to improve stress levels, heartburn, ulcers, PMS and at around 150 calories for a large banana is a great snack.

Other potassium rich foods to include in your diet on a regular basis are potatoes, green vegetables of all kinds especially spinach. Also mushrooms, tomatoes, oranges, prunes, apricots, fish such as halibut and tuna – yogurts etc.

Do not overcook your green vegetables and steaming retains most of the nutrients or eat raw and add to smoothies.. If you do cook in a pot blanch for under five minutes and freeze and then reheat for a few minutes in the microwave.. This way the greens stay a lovely colour and also do not lose their nutrients such as their nitrate component into the water that just gets thrown away. You can keep the water to add to homemade chicken stock for a rich gravy so that you waste nothing.

Ensure that you are eating sufficient foods containing calcium and magnesium to ensure you are getting the most out of your potassium..

  • Calcium – dairy, sardines, canned salmon, green leafy vegetables.
  • Magnesiumdairy, seafood, apples, apricots, avocado, brown rice, spinach.

Keeping the blood vessels clear of obstacles and blood flowing smoothly.

As well as fresh fruit and vegetables there is another key element of our diets that can help to maintain the health of our blood vessels and also the blood flow. That is wholegrains.

wholegrainsOnce we are past the growing phase of our bodies (upward not outward!) we do not need as many carbohydrates but we need enough to offer us the correct fuel mix for our activity levels. There is a great deal of press about giving them up to lose weight, or impress our gut bacteria etc…etc.

However in my opinion this is a dangerous strategy as our bodies require the elements from the right carbohydrates to provide essential vitamins and minerals and to give us the energy to get through each day.

Fibre is a component that removes waste from the body which includes toxins. It also is a little like a vacuum cleaner in as much as it removes unwanted clumps of debris that are collecting in various places in the body.. This allows for smooth passage of fluids such as blood increasing blood flow and reducing blood pressure.

Here is an article on one of my favourite carbohydrates that I include every other day which may be the key to a healthy life: Harvard Study indicates that a bowl of porridge is key to a healthy life.

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2020

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

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

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

 

 

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – 20th – 26th September 2020 – Community, #Streisand, #Canberra, #Waterford, Books, Reviews and funnies.


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

Well what a week.. from the headlines to the weather it has been one rollercoaster of a ride with nobody quite sure where the ride is going to end.. even those holding the reins!

Thankfully things around our virtual world seem to be maintaining normality however I would like to mention two people who are firm favourites here with guest posts and their books.

Mary Smith and Sue Vincent were due to meet up in the last few weeks in Scotland but for both of them shock medical news has become a priority for the present. Both of them have posted about their diagnosis and I link to them here. Unfortunately due to Covid restrictions they cannot enjoy the level of physical support so necessary during their treatment. Both are wonderfully strong and resilient, but you can never have too many friends, even in the virtual world on your side. If you too are friends with them please head over to keep in touch and let them know we are there now and as they continue to blog during their treatment. Two amazing women.

Sue Vincent – A bit more than a break

Mary Smith – Cancer Diary

On the home front.

I am still in the middle of getting my next release ship shape… longer than I intended as I have been, like most of you lacking in some focus on the creative side in the last few months. I have however begun to apply myself more and I am scheduling a couple of weeks ahead at the moment which gives me some breathing room. I am so grateful for William Price King, Debby Gies, Carol Taylor and Silvia Todesco for their weekly and monthly contributions and whilst I am not accepting individual guest posts at the moment, I hope to do so in the New Year.

If you are an author in the Cafe and Bookstore it would help me enormously if you could let me know as soon as you have a date for any new releases so I can include in the Cafe Updates in a timely fashion. Either on pre-order or available is fine.

My intention is to increase my reading time which is as important to me as writing.. and hopefully you should see more book reviews each week on a more consistent basis. I have just ambitiously added another 10 books to my TBR and looking forward to some great reading.

Thank you very much for all the support you give every week and it is much appreciated as it keeps me motivated.  Just heading into my 9th year of blogging and 8th year as Smorgasbord Blog Magazine.. doesn’t time fly when you are having fun….

Time for the posts from the week….

Barbra Streisand part Two 1960s and 1970s

#Australia – The Great Fire of Canberra by Toni Pike

#Ireland #1930s – The Yards of Waterford

Chapter Eight – Human Language Lessons

It is 20 years since I wrote Just an Odd Job Girl and to celebrate I am giving away FREE Ebook copies and sharing the background to the real odd jobs that litter my career. This I am 14 and start my first paid job.

20th Anniversary #Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs

Dental Surgery Part One

Dental Surgery Part Two

October 1985 – Trip to Seattle – Mountains and State Park

#Humour – In Search of McDoogal by Mae Clair

 

 

 

 

 

 

Past Book Reviews – #Mystery James J. Cudney, #Dystopian Terry Tyler

New Author on the Shelves -Age Group 7 upwards – #Ghosts Mrs. Murray’s Ghost (The Piccadilly Street Series Book 1) by Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Share your Children’s book review – The Case of the Mystery of the Bells: Davey & Derek Junior Detectives, Book 6 by Janice Spina reviewed by Victoria Zigler

New Release #Fantasy Jemima Pett, #Review Robbie and Michael Cheadle

#Fantasy Charles E. Yallowitz #Reviews #HistoricalRomance Christine Campbell, #Poetry Bette A. Stevens

#Writers Pre-Order Lizzie Chantree, #Writers P.C. Zick, #Romance Jacquie Biggar

#Family Stevie Turner, Reviews #Anthology M.J. Mallon, #Crimethriller Don Massenzio, #Fantasy C.S. Boyack,

#NewReleases -#Dieselpunk Teagan Riordain Geneviene, #Crime Sue Coletta

Elements Collection Soap Bars

Essential Oils and Aromatherapy – An introduction to the therapy

Blood Pressure and the #Salt debate

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – September 22nd 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Skinny Jeans and Anagrams… Posted on September 22, 2020 by Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life.

September 24th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Police dogs and Eye Tests

Host Sally Cronin- It’s all about Love…and laughter

 

Thanks very much for dropping by and I hope you will join me again next week… thanks Sally.