Smorgasbord Health Column- Major Organs and Systems of the Body – Female Reproductive system – Breast Cancer by Sally Cronin

Female Reproductive system – Breast Cancer

Unfortunately cancer is a common condition and there will be over 14 million new cases this coming year and over 8 million deaths world wide. In many developing countries that do not have screening programmes to detect the disease early, the diagnosis of cancer is a death sentence. Most of us live in countries where cancer research, early detection and personalised treatments are now available, and if you look at the survival rates of ten years and over, the news is encouraging.

In the UK according to overall cancer statistics from Cancer Research UK there were 363,484 new cases in 2016, and 164,900 deaths in 2017. There is now a 50% survival rate over 10 years but, 38% of cancers are preventable.

If that is the case then it would result in 138,123 fewer cases per year and 62,662 less deaths a year.

With regard to Breast Cancer, there are an average of 55,122 new cases in the UK each year, 11,400 deaths in 2017, with an estimated 23% of cases being preventable. What does look more promising is that the survival rate for women for 10 years of more is 78%.

The US statistics can be found on this website Susan G. Komen In 2019, it’s estimated among U.S. women there will be:

  • 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer (This includes new cases of primary breast cancer, but not recurrences of original breast cancers.)
  • 62,930 new cases of in situ breast cancer – find out more about this in the statistics
  • 41,760 breast cancer deaths

Although the survival rate in the UK and US is improving, the aim of course, is to ensure as near 100% survival rate for all those diagnosed with breast cancer. To that end, research has now become even more focused on identifying every factor involved in its development, from risk factors to individual tumour cell variations. There are some exciting new studies which you will find out about later in the post

The diagnosis of Breast Cancer strikes fear into the heart of us all. Not that the disease is exclusive and men too can develop this disease. But there are risk factors that are not down to genetic causes, but are a result of our lifestyle. The fact that it is estimated that 38% of cancers are preventable, should inspire us to look closely at our diet, exercise and lifestyle choices.

Risk Factors

Most of us in developed countries are living longer due to better diet and medical care. Recent research does support the fact that we all have rogue cells that might at some stage develop into cancer, particularly if we live into our eighties and nineties. If we have a poor diet full of sugars and have worked in a hazardous environment our immune systems may not function efficiently allowing for diseases such as cancer to move from harmless to dangerous.

There are a number of risk factors that have been identified, but apart from a clear genetic link to mutated genes such as BRCA1, BRCA2 and p53, there is only firm but not definitive links to other triggers. These include prolonged exposure to hormones such as oestrogen because of an early start to puberty before the age of 12 years old or a late menopause after 55 years old.

Lifestyle and diet are likely to play a role as a nutritionally poor diet is likely to result in poor immune system function allowing all pathogens to flourish. Our bodies are resilient and can fight off most serious diseases if our immune system is functioning efficiently. However, with a nutritionally deficient diet our immune system become compromised and cannot support us.

There have been studies which indicate that exposure to hormone replacement therapy and birth control might raise the risk factor as will being exposed to chemicals within the work place.

Lifestyle choices such as smoking, recreational drugs and drinking excessive alcohol can be increased risk factors as they will undermine the body’s own defense system as well as introducing carcinogens into the body. In the case of smoking, each cigarette has over 4,000 chemical components, many of which are toxic.

You might also be at risk if you are severely overweight and take little exercise.

You can find more details: Breast cancer detection and prevention

Early Detection

If you notice any changes in your breasts that are not associated with your normal monthly cycle or pregnancy then contact your GP or health provider.

Here is an excellent article on self-examination that you should complete at least once every month: Breast Cancer self examination

In certain countries there are various health checks that are available to screen for specific cancers between certain ages and it is important that every woman take advantage of these.

The Good News.

If breast cancer is detected early and treated there is between an 88% and 93% survival rate. This drops to between 74% for stage two and 49% for stage three: Survival statistics

In the latest research it has been identified that there are at least 10 different variants of the disease (instead of the three already identified), and that tumours themselves may have variations in types of cancerous cells inside them and also when they spread to other parts of the body. This raises more challenges as it increases the need for very personalised treatment plans for patients.

Here is an extract from a very interesting article that I suggest you do read from Cancer Research UKIncreasing the resolution on breast cancer – The Metabric Study

Their study group, METABRIC (Molecular Taxonomy of Breast Cancer International Consortium), looked at the patterns of molecules inside tumours from nearly two thousand women, for whom information about the tumour characteristics had been meticulously recorded.

They compared this with the women’s survival, and other information, like their age at diagnosis.

While many other studies have highlighted differences between cancers, the METABRIC study looked at so many tumours that they could spot new patterns and ‘clusters’ in the data.

Their conclusion is that what we call ‘breast cancer’ is in fact at least ten different diseases, each with its own molecular fingerprint, and each with different weak spots.

This is simultaneously daunting and heartening – daunting because each of these diseases will likely need a different strategy to overcome it; and heartening because it opens up multiple new fronts in our efforts to beat breast cancer.

and from the same article – Genetic insights

Modern genetic technology is increasing our understanding of cancer

All of the tests described above measure the levels of proteins inside tumours. Recently, research has focused on testing which genes are switched on or off inside the cancer cells.

This has led to tests, not yet widely used in the NHS, such as ‘PAM50’. This examines 50 separate genes inside a woman’s tumour, and uses the resulting ‘fingerprint’ to group cancers into four subtypes’:

Luminal A cancers, which are usually ER+ and/or PR+ – and make up about half of all cases. They tend to have low amounts of Her2. Women with these tumours tend to have the best outlook.

There is a great deal of focus on breast cancer research and hopefully in the near future, the ‘PAM 50’ test will become routine in the NHS. That will provide even more data for these studies and identify more treatment options to save more lives.

I hope that you will read more on Breast Cancer at the links I have shared. Being informed is the first step in prevention, as is understanding how your body works, how it feels and how it might be changing.

©Sally Cronin – Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

My nutritional background

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

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

As always delighted to get your feedback and questions. This is not intended to take the place of your doctor’s presence in your life. But, certainly in the UK, where you are allocated ten minutes for a consultation and time is of the essence; going in with some understanding of how your body works and is currently functioning can assist in making a correct diagnosis.

Some doctors believe that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. However, I believe that understanding our bodies, how it works, how we can help prevent health problems and knowing the language that doctors speak, makes a difference.  Taking responsibility for our bodies health is the first step to staying well.

Thanks so much for dropping by and if you have a private question that you would rather not put in the comments section you can contact me on

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – The Bahamas, Chocolate, Flash Dance, Guests and Laughter.

Welcome to the weekly round up of posts that you might have missed here on Smorgasbord.

There are a few things going on around this neck of the woods in the coming weeks, including a bit of break from routine for me as I head off to dog and house sit for my sister whilst she takes on the Bay of Biscay in November on a cruise!

I will make sure the regulars are posted and there is plenty to read on the days that I am traveling. I intend to do some work on writing projects when I am away, but the good news is that the current WIP is now moving into the formatting phase and I hope to have it available by early December. It is a bit of a departure from my usual short story collections as I also include verse and flash fiction. I will let you know more about it nearer the time.

This year’s Christmas promotion

I am also plotting this year’s Christmas book promotions and I will be sharing a post in the next week or so about the International Christmas Book Fair which will including some guest posts on writing from some of the authors in the Cafe and Bookstore, offering additional separate promotional opportunities.

In the bookstore there are authors from all around the world and I want to make sure that every author is promoted. You won’t need to do a thing.. although it would be great if you would share the posts. Look out for news of this promotional feature in the last week of October with a start date of mid-November.

My thanks as always to the wonderful regular contributors and guest writers who share their work with us here. And also to you for your constant support for the blog.

Time to get on with this week’s posts….

The Travel Column this month with D.G. Kaye, is in response to the tourist board of the Bahamas request for visitors to resume their holidays on the Islands, recently devastated by the recent hurricane. Tourism is the main source of income for the Islands and without it reconstruction will be severely hampered.

We are coming to the end of the re-run of Jessica Norrie’s Literary Column from last year, with one more to come at the end of November with some great gift recommendations.. In the meantime, Jessica who was reaching a milestone birthday at the end of last year, shared books that were released in the year of her birth.. It is an interesting exercise to check which bestsellers were released at the same time as you were! The link is in the post.

Robbie Cheadle rounds off her popular series on the York Chocolate Story with the conversion of the factory to make munitions and the production of high energy sweets for life rafts.

This week my guest is Deborah Jay, with an extract from The Prince’s Man – Book One of the the Five Kingdoms Series..

If you are offered the opportunity to do a podcast or radio interview then grab it.. but also do your preparation to make sure you are getting the right message across to encourage readers to buy your book.

My book review for Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg. 

I recommend that if you are unfamiliar with why and how the young men and women of our armies are involved in this conflict, that you read Silent Heroes. It is a way to honour their service, that of their canine brothers-in-arms, and the bravery of the Afghanistan population, trying to exist in a country torn apart by devastating conflict.

Chapter Seventeen and the Opening Weekend of Killbilly Hotel has is moments…including a dead body in the lounge!

Most guests are appreciative of old world charm.. but others not so much….drastic measures required..

This week for Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 148 Colleen Chesebro has given us the prompt words ‘Empty and Space and I have selected the synonyms ‘Hollow and Distance‘  A butterfly cinquain– Rejection.

In Linda Thompson’s third post, she explores the phenomenon that is the mystery of the missing sock.. it is rampant in our household too and I suspect from all the mentions online that it is now an epidemic…

This is the final post of Melanie Stewart who blogs at Leaving the Door Open: A Daughter’s stories about an aging parent. This week When The Money Runs Out

This is the final  post from Peter Mohan who blogs at Cheers, Govanhill as his alter ego .. Boy David.  Why Govanhill is just like the south of France

a deckchair pictured below the M74 motorway extension in Govanhill

Ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest forms of the reproductive system. Karen Ingalls is an ovarian cancer survivor and therefore supremely qualified to write this article.. The post carries an important message about understanding how our bodies work and how we should be on the alert for anything that seems out of the ordinary. 



The Obesity epidemic – Part Four– Finding a point to intervene in the life cycle – 7 – 14 –  School Lunches This week I am going to cover, what I consider the best time to intervene in the obesity epidemic, to achieve the most effective results.

New Books on the Shelves

Author Update #Reviews

A chance to showcase some fantastic posts from fellow bloggers.

Thank you again for dropping in to visit and hope you will join me again next week for more of the same.  Sally

Smorgasbord Health Column – The Female Reproductive System – Outshining Ovarian Cancer Guest Post author Karen Ingalls.

This guest post was first published in 2016 but it is a message that is very important and should be repeated regularly. My thanks to Karen Ingalls for sharing her story and also the symptoms all women should be aware of.

Ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest forms of the reproductive system. Karen is an ovarian cancer survivor and therefore supremely qualified to write this article.. The post carries an important message about understanding how our bodies work and how we should be on the alert for anything that seems out of the ordinary.


photo-on-2-14-16-at-139-pm-crop-u6133I am a retired registered nurse and had very limited education about gynecological diseases and cancers. From working in hospice I only knew that ovarian cancer is the deadliest one of all gynecologic cancers. My journey and initial diagnosis with ovarian cancer is not an unusual one.

I had gained a few pounds and developed a protruding stomach, both of which were unusual for me since I had always bordered on being underweight. When my weight continued to increase, I began an aggressive exercise and weight-loss program. I never considered these changes to be anything more than normal postmenopausal aging.

I saw my gynecologist for my routine PAP smear, which only determines the presence of cancer cells in the cervix. She could not get the speculum into my vagina and when she palpated my abdomen she felt a mass. I was rushed to get a CT scan, which revealed a very large tumor in my left lower abdomen. Two days later I had an appointment with a gynecologic-oncology surgeon for an evaluation.

A week later I had a hysterectomy by the gynecologic-oncology surgeon from which I learned the tumor was malignant. It is critically important that such a specialist in this field of oncology perform the surgery. They are experts and know what to look for and how to safely remove any tumors.

My surgery involved removing the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, omentum, ten lymph glands for microscopic investigation, and ten inches of my colon where the tumor had grown into. I am blessed that there were no cancer cells in my lymph glands or other organs. Two weeks later I was then started on chemotherapy for six rounds.

The symptoms of ovarian cancer are subtle and common to many women so they are often ignored or attributed to something more benign. Most physicians do not consider the possibility of the presenting symptoms to be related to ovarian cancer. Often the woman is sent from one specialist to another, which I call the “Gilda Radner Syndrome.” With each passing day the cancer is growing and putting the woman at greater risk of being at a more terminal stage.

These are the most common symptoms:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Pain in abdomen
  • Low back pain
  • Frequency of urination
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Increased indigestion or change in appetite.
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Fatigue
  • Unusual vaginal discharges
  • Menstrual irregularities

If a woman experiences any of these symptoms for two weeks, it is recommended that she see her gynecologist and insist on an abdominal ultrasound and a CA125. The only laboratory-screening test currently available is a CA125 blood test, which unfortunately has a high incidence of false positives. We women need to be our own advocates and demand these inexpensive tests.

If the ultrasound and possibly a CT, MRI, or PET scans reveal a tumor, then in my opinion the woman must see a gynecologic oncologist. Typically the woman undergoes a debulking surgery, which is a complete hysterectomy and removal of any lymph nodes or any suspicious surrounding tissue or organs. The only way to accurately determine if cancer is present is through specimen testing of the tissue.

The risk factors are:

  • Family or self-history of breast, colon, ovarian, or prostate cancers
  • Eastern Jewish heritage (Ashkenazi)
  • History of infertility drugs
  • Never been pregnant
  • BRCA 1 & BRCA 2 positive mutation
  • Older than 60

I was staged at IIC and given a 50% chance of surviving 5 years. I had no family history of ovarian cancer and only one relative who had had breast cancer. I did not fit the typical criteria, and the BRCA1 and BRCA2 markers were negative for mutation. So the question, “Why did I get ovarian cancer?” remains unanswered and it is actually not an important one any longer.

The word cancer creates fear in everyone either mildly or extremely. Yet so often the things we fear are never as great as the fear itself. As a young person I had learned from my grandmother and adopted aunt that attitude, acceptance, and determination are the keys to facing a fear and to healing the body, mind, and spirit. Those women were, and still are today, w strong role models for me. They taught me about living a healthy lifestyle, which included a belief in God, exercise, good nutrition, positive thinking, healthy touch and meditation. These lifestyle choices had helped me face childhood abuse, divorce, alcoholic parents, and untimely deaths, and now they have helped me live with cancer.

I prefer to use the word challenge instead of problem, test, or trial. I like the word challenge because I envision positivity, learning, growing, and putting my best efforts forward. I did not think about being cured of the cancer, but more about how I can live my life with dignity, and what I am to learn from this new role as a woman with cancer. A family friend, Dr. LaJune Foster once said, “Look about for each bright ray of sunshine: cherish them, for in the days ahead they will light your path.” I deeply believe in this way of living.

I wrote about my journey with ovarian cancer to educate, support, and inspire women and their families. It is my own unique experience, but there are some common emotions, events, and experiences that all cancer survivors share. Like many others traveling this road, I have experienced valleys and mountaintops, darkness and rays of sunshine. I do not know what the future holds for me, but I have learned a lot about myself and met some incredibly courageous women.

The challenge of ovarian cancer was an opportunity for me to become a better person. My life is far richer and has the greater mission, which is to spread the word about this lesser known disease. I truly see each moment as a gift that is not to be taken for granted, but lived to its fullest with love.

An important lesson I learned with the challenge of ovarian cancer is that the beauty of the soul, the real me, and the real you, outshines the effects of cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation. It outshines any negative experience.

©Karen Ingalls 2016

About Karen Ingalls

I might be a retired RN, but I am an active and enthusiastic writer of non-fiction and fiction. It took a few years before I was willing to show that deeper part of myself. I love to get lost in the world of my novels and let the creative juices flow. I have written several articles for medical and nursing journals. I enjoy researching and discovering new information.

I enjoy writing for my two blogs ( and The first one is about health/wellness, relationships, spirituality, and cancer. My second blog is for authors and avid readers who wish to be interviewed, do a guest blog, and be promoted. I have “met” so many interesting and enchanting people, who have done guest posts for me; or those around the world who follow my blogs and leave comments.

I was thrilled and honored to be recognized as a runner-up at the Midwest Book Awards and then receiving first place in the category of “women’s health” at the National Indie Excellence Awards. The greatest reward is when a reader shares how my book(s) inspired them, taught them something, or brought a deeper awareness about life.

About Outshine

When Karen Ingalls was diagnosed with Stage II Ovarian Cancer, she realized how little she knew about what was once called ”the silent killer.” As Ingalls began to educate herself she felt overwhelmed by the prevalent negativity of cancer. Lost in the information about drugs, side effects, and statistics, Ingalls redirected her energy to focus on the equally overwhelming blessings of life, learning to rejoice in each day and find peace in spirituality.

In this memoir, Karen is a calming presence and positive companion, offering a refreshing perspective of hope with the knowledge that ”the beauty of the soul, the real me and the real you, outshines the effects of cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation.”

Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir is a story of survival, and reminds readers that disease is not an absolute, but a challenge to recover.

One of the recent excellent reviews for Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir

Ms Fiza Pathan 5.0 out of 5 stars An Inspirational Read! September 5, 2019

Outshine’ by Karen Ingalls is a memoir of strength, faith & resilience in the face of Cancer. She was diagnosed with stage 2 Ovarian Cancer & this book is about how she tackled the cancer or as Ingalls puts it ‘the big C word’. This is a memoir penned by a strong woman who did not buckle down in the face of ‘the big C word’. I admire her husband Jim who was a great support to her during this situation. I don’t think I would ever be as brave as Ingalls if I ever was detected with a fatal disease. Kudos to her for her perseverance & faith in the Almighty. Ingalls’ book is tender, inspirational & full of wonderful soul stirring quotes at the end of every chapter that can make your day brighter. She shows herself to be a woman of spirit & a woman who has taken the cancer she was a victim too as a life lesson or a test sent to her by the Almighty to make her a better human being. Kudos to her on that point. This book is interactive with a set of excellent questions at the end of the book which can be used for discussion purposes at any book club or any place where books about Cancer survival are discussed. I highly recommend this book to anyone & everyone who needs a bit of sunshine in their lives. I also highly recommend this book to Cancer patients, survivors & care givers. I hope to read more books by Ingalls in the near future, especially her novels which she wished to write after her chemotherapy was over. Do support this book & happy reading to you

Read all the reviews and and buy the book:

and on Amazon UK:

Also by Karen Ingalls.

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon UK:

Connect with Karen on her websites and social media.

My thanks to Karen for her detailed and inspirational post and it would be great if you could share the message on your own networks.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Weekly Round Up – First Class Jazz, Guests, Food,Books with a dash of Humour thrown in..

Welcome to the weekly round up with some of the posts you might have missed on Smorgasbord..

This week has been interesting with the tail end of Lorenzo and with two more storm fronts rolling in behind it. I almost got my wish for my own swimming pool right outside the front door but thankfully we had one sunny day in the week and another today to evaporate some of the moisture. I have decided that my arthritis in my knee is actually rust and am going to see if the DIY hack of using WD40 might help.

But I cannot complain as the tiny pansies that I planted along with the mini cyclamens are thriving despite wind and rain and they are clearly Irish born and bred.

The week’s continue to fly by and hard to believe it is October, until you go into the supermarket and see that Quality Street is back in tins, two for a tenner and frozen turkey’s are on special! They do draw the line at mentioning the ‘C’ word but any week now..

Anyway… here are the posts from the week and thanks to the contributors who give up their time and offer their expertise to us all.. and to you for your continued support.

This week William Price King shares the life and music of Bill Evans, American Jazz pianist and composer (1929 – 1980).

Author Robbie Cheadle has been sharing  The York Chocolate story with us, following her recent trip to the UK. The York Chocolate Series Part Four – Chocolate in wartime First World War 1914 – 1918

Annette Rochelle Aben takes us through the Universal Energy of October… what does it hold in store for you?

The series continues after the summer break with a look at the minerals we can become deficient in… this week we feature Calcium and Carol Taylor whips up a couple of great recipes to make sure you and your family are getting sufficient.

Silvia Todesco shares the recipe for a wonderfully warming autumn soup..Orange Creamy Butternut..


Today my guest is Marian Longenecker Beaman talking about her recently released memoir Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl.

It is my mother’s birthday today and she would have been 102. Goodness knows what mischief she would have been up to if still with us, but I have a feeling that she is probably with my father and has got him suited and booted and going to a dinner dance tonight. Happy Birthday Mollie Eileen (The Duchess) 1917 – 2012

Imogen heads off to the wilds of Cornwall to start working at Killbilly Hotel… with a very spooky welcome..Chapter Fifteen – Killbilly Hotel, Cornwall and a Gothic Welcome.

The new job begins training up the staff for the opening weekend party. Chapter Sixteen.

This week it is poet’s choice for Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 147 and since time is whizzing faster than I can keep up with… I thought I would remind you just what October is really all about…time to get prepared for the night of reckoning….The Spell by Sally Cronin

Delighted to share my review for the latest children’s book by Eloise de Sousa.. Space Dust which is available in print.

Getting yourself noticed locally – Media

Despite the fact that it is very difficult to get the attention of the mainstream media, I still believe that you should make every effort to get your book noticed.  If you have done everything right – well written, edited, formatted and produced either in print, E-book or both, then it deserves your best shot.

New Book on the Shelves

Author Update #Reviews

In her second post, Linda Thompson shares her encounter with Donna C… who matured faster than her fellow schoolmates and had two elder sisters to give her a head start. Linda also has some wisdom to share on body image.. Thank you, Donna C., Wherever You Are

Hippy girl clip art

This is the third post of Melanie Stewart who blogs at Leaving the Door Open: A Daughter’s stories about an aging parent.  In this post, Melanie’s mother faces the loss of a friend who had become like a sister to her. Saying Goodbye, a Story of a Friendship

This is the third  post from Peter Mohan who blogs at Cheers, Govanhill In this post witty observations on the absurdity of modern life. I’m not going to Polmadie at this time of night

A statue of Oor Wullie dressed as Jimi Hendrix, one of many across Glasgow

The Female Reproductive System – The fertile years 10 – 50 years old. In this third part of the series on the female reproductive system a look at some of the health issues that might occur in the 40 years that it is active.

In  part two of this series I looked at diet from two to seven years old with the emphasis on  developing a healthy immune system in a relatively short window of time. This week I look at declining activity levels for this age group.

Thank you for dropping in and I hope you have a fantastic week ahead… Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – The Obesity epidemic – Part Three– Finding a point to intervene in the life cycle – 2 to 7 years old – Activity – Sally Cronin

In  part two of this series I looked at diet from two to seven years old with the emphasis on  developing a healthy immune system in a relatively short window of time. This week I look at declining activity levels for this age group.

In coming weeks I will be exploring the crucial elements of the different age groups, and also stages of life, such as puberty, pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy, menopause (male and female) and as we become more sedentary.

The saying – ‘give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man‘  Aristotle and other wise menis also appropriate in the context of lifelong health.

These years are crucial for the development of the immune system, but also for brain function, bone density and healthy digestive and reproductive systems. Since this is one of the most critical periods in our development, I am now looking at the physical activity needed to build healthy bones and major organs in this age group and will follow that up with a post on the key deficiencies playing a major role in obesity and also child development next week.

It does depend where you live in the world, and access to the outdoors, but  I think it is safe to say, than any of us over 50 enjoyed more freedom as a child. I certainly was out the door and playing on our nearby beach, on a bombsite waiting to be cleared, and either riding my bike or racing up and down on the forecourt of our local garage on my roller skates. At the weekends I turned up for meals, hungry after several hours at the skate park or from cycling five miles or from swimming at the local pool. We walked to school and I did that from four years old until I was 16. We only had one car and my father took that to work, so it was the bus or save the fare to add to my pocket money.

I will put my violin away now and 60 year old memories and share some of the statistics for children today.

The number of children meeting the recommended amount of physical activity for healthy development and to maintain a healthy weight, which is 60 minutes a day, drops by 40% as they move through primary school. Currently, just 23% of boys and 20% of girls meet the national recommended level of activity. Furthermore, 1 in 5 children start primary school overweight or obese, rising to more than a third by the time they leave.” Gov.UK

Why at least an hour of physical activity per day (three is better) is so important for children to prevent obesity, and to improve mental and emotional well-being.

“Regular physical activity in children is associated with lower body mass , blood pressure, insulin levels and improved mental wellbeing . Despite its health benefits, many children and young people do not meet the current UK guidelines of an hour per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) on most days of the week . Moreover, physical activity levels decline during childhood, with the end of primary school (10-11 years) being a critical stage of change. Preventing the decline in physical activity that occurs at this age is therefore a key public health target .” International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity

I appreciate that the outdoors is not always accessible for the 2 to 7 years old age group and it is understandable that they cannot go out these days without supervision, but if they are at kindergarten or primary school, they should be getting organised physical activity regularly during the day.

I have found a few videos to give you an idea of the exercises a baby and toddler can be enjoying in the home… and also more organised programmes that are likely to be available locally.

There are recommended exercises for babies up to two years old including tummy time to help strengthen neck, shoulders and abdominal muscles. Crawling in a safe space is a great activity especially if you have a personal trainer to hand. Uploaded by Caters Clips

Once a toddler is able to walk and until 7 years old,it is recommended that they have at least three hours of mixed activities over the day

And there are various training aids to help a baby walk.. including that personal trainer again.

Uploaded by Best Babies Youtube

And an extraordinary video that is so inspiring to watch and one of the best exercises for us all… swimming.  uploaded by ditto art

And finally in the toddlers section dancing…uploaded by Rumble Viral

And now something from toddler to 7 years old, which not only provides more than the recommended daily activity, but also develops the child’s mind and imagination. Begun in Europe for pre-school children..hence the word Kindergarten, it has spread around the world and you may be lucky enough to have near you or your grandchildren. Uploaded by Greater Chattanooga

This outdoor environment also has the added benefit of exposing children to sunlight, even on partly cloudy days. Even 15 to 20 minutes a day exposure can help prevent physical and mental developmental issues, obesity and promote health as an adult.

Next week a look at Vitamin D deficiency which is now reaching critical levels, and its role in obesity, physical development and autism, especially when other nutrients are deficient such as calcium.

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

My nutritional background

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

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

As always delighted to get your feedback and questions. This is not intended to take the place of your doctor’s presence in your life. But, certainly in the UK, where you are allocated ten minutes for a consultation and time is of the essence; going in with some understanding of how your body works and is currently functioning can assist in making a correct diagnosis.

Some doctors believe that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. However, I believe that understanding our bodies, how it works, how we can help prevent health problems and knowing the language that doctors speak, makes a difference.  Taking responsibility for our bodies health is the first step to staying well.

Next week it is the turn of pre-teens whose puberty may have been compromised by hormones in our food chain and too much sugar in the diet.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to comment or share. best wishes Sally


Smorgasbord Health Column – The Female Reproductive System – an overview of health issues – Sally Cronin

Last week  Last week I looked at the function of the endocrine system and hormones for both the female and male reproductive systems and this week an overview of some of the health issues that women can face during their lifetime.

I will be posting on Ovarian Cancer next time.

The fertile years 10 – 50 years old.

In this third part of the series on the female reproductive system a look at some of the health issues that might occur in the 40 years that it is active.  Every woman is unique and I can only give you averages when talking about events during a monthly cycle.

From the age of ten a girl is maturing towards becoming fertile. Puberty marks the start of an average of 40 years of one of the most miraculous, but also often inconvenient monthly cycles. Beneath our skin a complex series of actions are taking place to ensure the smooth running of this female process. Although the actual period only lasts an average of 7 to 10 days but can be shorter or longer, the process is ongoing for the full 28 to 32 days. The cycle can be different depending on a number of factors and will change as a woman matures.

The-Menstrual-Cycle-WThe menstrual cycle

There are a number of hormones, other than oestrogen and progesterone, involved in the menstrual cycle and the process is normally very precise and runs like clockwork to afford the very best chance of fertilisation of the egg.

There are three distinct stages that are orchestrated by the hormones, in sequence, and the whole cycle will take between 28 and 32 days to complete.

Stage one – Follicular phase day 1 – 13

During this phase the pituitary gland releases a hormone called FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) which will stimulate the egg containing follicles in the ovaries. In turn the follicles will release oestrogen which produces changes in the consistency of the mucus in the cervix resulting in a clear discharge mid cycle. This change help prepare the mucus to receive and nourish the sperm from the man.

Stage two – Ovulatory phase – approximately day 14

At this stage the level of luteinising hormone (LH) released from the anterior pituitary gland, dramatically increases or surges. LH forces the follicles to break open and release its egg into the fallopian tube. This is ovulation and takes approximately 24 hours.

Stage three – Luteal phase – day 15 to 28

After the follicle has released its egg it changes function and becomes a gland called the corpus luteum. This gland now releases the progesterone that will stimulate the growth of the thick and blood rich lining of the womb that might be needed if the egg is fertilised.

If the egg is not fertilised it dries up and dies and the lining of the womb is expelled through the cervix and out of the body as a period.

The health of the reproductive system.

Forty years is a very long time in body terms and it is hardly surprising that a system as complex as the reproductive function is not going to suffer from problems. These are either due to disruptions to the hormones in charge, or the organs themselves.

I know that you expect long posts from me but even I draw the line in covering all the health issues we might face over the years. Here are the headlines!

Conditions associated with the reproductive system

Many young girls and women suffer from PMS (Pre-menstrual syndrome) and in some cases this continues right up to menopause. This can be helped by changes in diet and exercise levels as well as some supplementation of specific nutrients and herbs.

Infertility is a problem that may not be discovered until a woman is in her late 20’s and 30’s and is actively trying to get pregnant but there are certain lifestyle and dietary issues as well as possible physical or hormonal reasons for difficulties in becoming pregnant. I will cover the basics under that heading.

Premenstrual Syndrome

PMS symptoms tend to occur at specific phases of the menstrual cycle, which are modulated by the changing levels in the female sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone. It is logical then to assume that any adverse symptoms are caused by some disruption to the balance between these two hormones.

PMS always occurs during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle when the luteinising hormone (LH) increases the production of progesterone and oestrogen in the ovaries. This phase in the cycle is specifically to encourage secretions in the fallopian tubes and womb to ensure the proper nourishment and implantation of a fertilised egg.

There are a number of theories that have been put forward to try and explain the various reasons why individual women suffer differing symptoms at this time from water retention to depression. Some studies suggest that it is a lack of progesterone that causes the problems with some women responding favourably to progesterone therapy and other studies finding that it makes matters worse. The common factor appears to be an imbalance of one or other of the two female hormones oestrogen and progesterone. I think the key lies in a number of factors one of which is that we are all individual and this includes our hormonal makeup.

I have worked with many teenagers and older women who were suffering from PMS and I found the best way to start was with diet and exercise with particular attention to any other influences such as Candida Albicans or stress. Many women respond very favourably to being treated for Candida Albicans, as some of the symptoms for this are lower back pain, depression and water retention. Candida takes over the intestines and healthy and friendly bacteria are in short supply. Bacteria in our gut is responsible for the manufacture of certain nutrients such as Vitamin K that plays a role in regulating our menstrual flow so it is logical that Candida could also contribute to PMS problems.

There are a number of nutrients that are also implicated in PMS and in my experience usually the cause is a lack of variety in the diet, particularly vitamin B6. This tends to be the result of dropping a major food group such as wholegrains and animal protein from the diet..

Foods that contain B6 –  wholegrain carbohydrates like brown rice, porridge oats, walnuts and sunflower seeds, bananas, avocados, salmon and tuna, dried fruit such as prunes and raisins, eggs, wheatgerm, poultry and meats such as lamb.

You can find more information on Candida here:

Some doctors prefer to put women on the contraceptive pill to help regulate periods and minimise PMS but I am still not happy about taking additional hormones without first trying the natural approach for at least two cycles. Talk to your doctor about making lifestyle changes first including reducing the amount of sugar in your diet. The recommended amount of sugar is 7 teaspoons per day.. It is easy with breakfast cereals, flavoured yoghurt etc to consume 14 teaspoons for breakfast.  Blood sugar levels are erratic and hormones are affected.


Infertility can be devastating to a young couple who have dreamt of having a large family and assumed that it was going to be as simple as stopping taking the pill or any other form of contraceptive. Unfortunately, for some women, there are physical reasons why they are unable to either produce an egg in the first place or carry the fertilised embryo to full term.

Usually there are a number of factors involved that cause or add to the reasons behind a woman’s infertility.  Since these are also the more common health issues with the reproductive system in general it is worth focusing on them in this post.

  1. Hormone levels are not sufficient to stimulate the release of an egg from the ovary or for it to successfully implant into the lining of the womb.
  2. A woman is more than 30% over her ideal weight or severely underweight and this effects ovulation. There is a link between eating disorders such as anorexia where body weight is reduced for extended periods of time. The body switches off non-life sustaining body functions. If you cannot nourish yourself then you would not be able to nourish a foetus.
  3. Fibroids of the womb.
  4. Endometriosis where the normal tissue that lines the womb is found outside in other areas of the pelvis.
  5. Production of antibodies that attack a partner’s sperm and kills them before they can fertilise her eggs.
  6. Infections throughout the pelvis caused by Chlamydia or by appendicitis leading to damage and scarring of the reproductive organs.
  7. Age.

Hormone Imbalance

Abnormal ovulation results in irregular or absent periods. This is usually caused by a lack of co-ordination between the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, as these regulate the release of the hormones into the bloodstream.

If insufficient LH (luteinising hormone) or FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) is secreted then the levels of oestrogen and progesterone will not be high enough to begin the process of ovulation. This may require hormonal treatment but the first step is to ensure that diet and lifestyle factors are not playing a role in the imbalance.

Weight Issues

Extreme weight fluctuation can also cause periods to cease as this is linked to hormonal imbalances associated with diet. Being overweight puts incredible stress on all the operating systems in the body including the reproductive system. Most women who have been overweight since childhood are likely to suffer from irregular or no menstrual cycle at all. Even being slightly overweight can affect hormone levels and it is recommended that a women get down as close to her ideal weight as possible before trying to conceive. There is additional wisdom in this as a woman who is already over three stone overweight is going to add another three at least during her pregnancy which can add significantly to risks of complications such as Gestational diabetes, very high blood pressure and the need for a Caesarean delivery.

In nature, in times of drought or famine, certain animals will not only cease to ovulate but they will also stop the gestation of their young until such time as conditions improve. One of the long-term issues with eating disorders such as Anorexia is infertility, as there is insufficient nutrients being made available to manufacture the necessary hormones. Before trying to conceive anyone who is dramatically underweight should take a close look at their diet and seek professional help in building up nutrition, calories and body mass.


One of the staggering statistics is that one in four women will enter the menopause because of medical treatment, the leading one being a hysterectomy (removal of the womb and ovaries). The biggest single reason is fibroids, which are benign tumours inside and outside the womb. There are three general locations for fibroids.

  1. Subserosal –on the outside surface of the uterus
  2. Intramural – within the muscular wall of the uterus
  3. Submucous – bulging in to the uterine cavity.

The submucous location is rarer than the other two but is the one associated with failure to conceive and early miscarriage. If the other two types of fibroid grow too large however they too can have an effect on the reproductive system.

Fibroids-WNo one is entirely sure what causes fibroids to form. There are a number of factors and hormone imbalance is probably involved. However, our diet may also be partly to blame as many foods that we consume contain substances that mimic the way oestrogen affects the body – and these include growth hormones in milk, beef and chicken, pesticides on our food and even the plastics we use in our kitchens for storage. This leads to oestrogen dominance in a woman, which can then lead to a number of reproductive problems including the growth of these benign tumours.

There is also a genetic link and if your female relatives have tended to get fibroids then you are at risk of developing them too. The light at the end of the tunnel is that they nearly always shrink when you reach menopause but if they cause heavy and painful bleeding and are making your life a misery you should deal with them as soon as possible.


Endometriosis develops when tissue resembling the endometrium inside the womb begins growing out in the pelvic cavity. The most common symptoms of this are painful sexual intercourse, period pains and infertility.

The endometrium is made up of blood, endometrial skin cells, glands and pieces of blood vessels and connective tissues. Although the endometrium is usually discarded and broken into pieces to be excreted in menstrual blood through the vagina, it can sometimes find its way through the upper openings of the womb that lead to the fallopian tubes. The ends of the fallopian tubes are open to the pelvic cavity and the pieces of endometrium can then attach themselves to any surface within the cavity and reform using all the components to grow and develop.

If the fallopian tubes are blocked and the ovaries are now coated with growing endometriosis there is little chance of an egg being produced and fertilised by a sperm – leading to infertility.

The usual treatment is to remove the lesions surgically or prescribe drugs that suppress the endometrium in the womb to keep it thin. This, in effect, creates a false menopause as it also suppresses the ovaries and the production of oestrogen. If you are hoping to have children it might have a long term effect on your ability to conceive.

Killer Mucous

When the body is not ovulating, cervical mucous has a role in killing any harmful bacteria trying to get into the body via the vagina. However, during ovulation a chemical change occurs which is designed to ensure the survival of the sperm on its way into the system. Some women react to their partner’s sperm, by developing antibodies instead, and killing the sperm as it fights its way towards the cervix.


One of the more common causes of infertility today is an infection that has damaged part of the reproduction system. For example, Chlamydia is a bacterial infection transmitted sexually and is the most common of the STDs contracted by adolescents and young adults today. The biggest problem is that you may not discover that you have been infected until you are trying to have a baby because 75% of women and 50% of men have no overt symptoms and it is therefore known as a silent disease.

Left untreated, Chlamydia can spread and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which rises through the vagina and the cervix before infecting the womb, fallopian tubes and the ovaries. The resulting scarring to the fallopian tubes can cause infertility and increase the risk of ectopic pregnancies (inside the fallopian tube).

In the rare cases where symptoms are present they can mimic other pre-menstrual symptoms and be ignored such as lower back pain, bleeding between periods, nausea and fever. However, if these are also accompanied by frequent urinary tract infections, chronic pelvic pain and vomiting it is necessary to consider that it is Chlamydia and seek medical attention.


Fertility levels decrease with age in women. Although there have been some reports of women becoming pregnant during the change of life it is rare. Women are at their most fertile up to 24 years old but today many women are putting off having children, preferring to wait for career or economic reasons. It is estimated that one third of women over 35 will experience some problems getting pregnant and at least half will have severe difficulties.

Declining hormone production, lack of viable eggs and an accumulation of the other factors I have covered in this article will combine to cause fertility problems. If a woman has also smoked, drunk too much alcohol and not eaten a healthy diet she will add to the difficulties.

Dietary influences.

Our body has very specific needs and this includes essential nutrients that can be processed and distributed around the body to where they are needed. As always a varied diet with lots of fresh vegetables, lean protein, fruits and wholegrains is a great place to start… And need I say.. Cooked from Scratch without any industrialised sugary additives.

For those of you who would like to know more about the nutrients we need here is a directory where you will find the nutrient, what it is needed for and the foods that supply it.

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

My nutritional background

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

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

As always delighted to get your feedback and questions. This is not intended to take the place of your doctor’s presence in your life. But, certainly in the UK, where you are allocated ten minutes for a consultation and time is of the essence; going in with some understanding of how your body works and is currently functioning can assist in making a correct diagnosis.

Some doctors believe that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. However, I believe that understanding our bodies, how it works, how we can help prevent health problems and knowing the language that doctors speak, makes a difference.  Taking responsibility for our bodies health is the first step to staying well.

Thanks so much for dropping by and if you have a private question that you would rather not put in the comments section you can contact me on


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Weekly Round Up – A Fairy Story, Evergreen, Chocolate, Health, New Books and Reviews oh and a lot of laughter..

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

September 29th each year is a very special date for us… and I thought I would share with you a fairy story that explains its significance.

Once upon a time there was a red-headed girl who was assistant manager in a hotel in a small hamlet in Mid-Wales.  Bontddu ( the dd is th in Welsh and the u is ee so pronounced Bontthee) I mention this as my mother insisted on telling everyone that Sally was working in a hotel in Bonteedudu!

I had been there for 18 months and to be honest, the little time I had between shifts was spent either sleeping or walking (I had no car) to the two towns equal distance 5 miles each way. Dolgellau and Barmouth a delightful seaside resort with a long sandy beach.

I had been married before for seven years and that had foundered around the four year mark but dragged on for another three (I must have broken a mirror). I was quite determined that I was never getting married again after this experience, and to this end I still wore a wedding ring to deter any possible overtures I might have been lucky enough to receive.

On one sunny Snowdonia morning (rare at certain times of the year) I intercepted a phone call in reception from someone wishing to book two rooms for two weeks.  I will admit that I was quite taken with the soft Irish accent of the man on the other end of the phone, and having reserved the two rooms, I put the receiver down and turned to one of the receptionists and uttered the famous last words ” He sounds rather nice, I think I’ll marry him!”  Much hilarity ensued and a week went by.

On the day of the reservation I had been off for a few hours and returned to assume restaurant management duties.  In those days I was required to wear a long dress in the evenings at dinner and guests were formally accompanied to their tables.  It was not long before I identified the Irish accent as Room 40.  Tall, dark haired and very handsome, a veritable Prince Charming.  To be honest I was all of a twitter (not the 140 character kind) and during the course of my duties I enquired of room 40 if he had been given sufficient crackling….

To cut a short story even shorter.  I arranged a number of meetings and dinners for Room 40, and two weeks went by without so much of flicker of interest from said resident.  If not for the opportune intervention of a couple who were regular guests at the hotel it may well have remained a disappointing encounter.

They enquired, obviously in earshot of Room 40, if my divorce had been finalised.  I replied that I had received that particular gift on my birthday back in February, and that I was officially free again.  Well, talk about Speedy Gonzalez…. before I could say I was not that kind of girl, the next day I was taken out on my day off for lunch, treated to a Chinese Takeaway when I got off duty that night, and presented with a Celtic pendant for all my assistance..

There must have been more than MSG in the Chinese because I suddenly heard the words “I think there is only one thing for us to do, will you marry me”

I think my flabber must have been well and truly gasted because before I could laugh at this insane proposal, on our first date, barely past first name terms, I said yes.

That was 29th September 1980, 13 days after his arrival at the hotel and into my life. And forget the long engagement.  He found us a flat in Dolgellau, posted the bans at the local registry office and 39 years ago on November 15th, we were married on a wild and blustery Welsh morning.  Even more shocked than the bride where her parents, the groom’s parents and my boss.

After the proposal David left to get the flat organised whilst I went into the hotel for the normal busy Saturday.  My boss was enjoying his morning coffee with the local paper when I announced casually I was getting married… “Who the hell to”…was the response and mine ” Room 40″

We have travelled the world together, lived in 17 homes both temporary and permanent, worked side by side and on occasion in separate countries.  We have had our moments but they have been brief and usually down to me being a bit of a handful! We are best friends and have shared laughter, loss and humour, and somewhere I believe there is a very smug fairy godmother….

Time to get on with this week’s posts that you might have missed….

As always my thanks to contributors and guests who take the time to write such amazing posts, that are informative, entertaining and inspiring.  And to you for dropping in and being part of the week.

Jessica Norrie is exploring books that are set on the coastline in various places around the world. I love the sea and hope that when we buy our final house it has a view of the ocean and all its changing moods.

Today my guests is Abbie Johnson Taylor who shares her inspirations and writing with an excerpt from her latest release The Red Dress.

The York Chocolate Series – Part Three – Chocolate in wartime Second Anglo Boer War 1899 – 1902 – In 1899, war broke out for the second time between the British Empire and the two Boer Republics in South Africa. In advance of Christmas 1899, Queen Victoria asked Cadbury, which held a Royal Warrant as suppliers of cocoa and chocolate products, to produce tins of chocolate to send to the British men fighting in South Africa as a gift..

A combined post today with a new book promotion and my review for The Quest for Home, the second book in the Crossroads Trilogy by Jacqui Murray.

Previously  Imogen takes a temporary job selling advertising for a local paper and ends up running a very interesting section … selling personal services! Chapter Thirteen – Makeover and the art of buying a car.

Previously  Imogen went into Central London for a much needed makeover and shopping trip, which brought to mind her friends escapades when buying a new car. She now moves on to a private school where she finds more interesting characters. Chapter Fourteen – Mayhew School for Boys and Girls.

Time for this week’s response to Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 146 and this week we are tasked with finding synonyms for the words ‘Fall and Give‘.. and I have chosen ‘Drop and Gift’..

This week on the  Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills   the challenge was to write a story in 99 words on the subject of someone unremembered…The Close Match

This week I am going to Facebook in relation to book marketing and also the benefits of joining an exclusive watering hole on social media platforms

This week a song that many of us remember and still love today.. Evergreen by Barbra Streisand from the 1976 film “A Star is Born

Linda Thompson’s first post is a wonderful, nostalgic look back through the years to special family dinners and how it is so important that our elderly parents are given the opportunity to still feel useful in our lives. A Place at the Table for All

This is the final post from educator and author Pete Springer .I think most of us who have finished our careers allegedly to retire, find there are elements of our jobs that are missed, and in this post, Pete shares the ones that he misses the most about teaching. What I Miss Most About Being a Teacher by Pete Springer

This is the second post of Melanie Stewart, she is faced with a logistical nightmare to get on the road for a trip and deal with a sudden change to her 87 year old mother, Ginny’s cable set up. The Cable Debacle.

This is the second  post from Peter Mohan who blogs at Cheers, Govanhill as his alter ego .. Boy David. I selected this post as we head into the late autumn and we get visitors both of the garden variety and field. Footprints in the Butter – Cheers Govanhill.

a collage of mice, all over the flat

New books on the shelves

Author Updates – Reviews and offers.

The major organs and systems of the body – The female reproductive system, the endocrine system and hormones.


The obesity epidemic and finding a point to intervene in the life cycle – this week the diet of two to seven year olds, can determine their health in adulthood.


Thank you so much for being part of the week here on Smorgasbord, and I hope you have enjoyed your visit.. please pop in again next week.. thanks Sally.



Smorgasbord Health Column – The Obesity epidemic – Part Two– Finding a point to intervene in the life cycle – 2 to 7 years old – Diet – by Sally Cronin

In part one of this series I looked at diet from birth to two years old with the emphasis on breast feeding for six months and the introduction of key foods that would complement breast milk and help develop a healthy immune system over the next 18 months.

In coming weeks I will be exploring the crucial elements of the different age groups, and also stages of life, such as puberty, pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy, menopause (male and female) and as we become more sedentary.

The key element will be to focus on how to maintain our immune system throughout our lives which is primarily dependent on having a nutritionally balanced intake of food, regular exercise and avoiding industrially manufactured products.

The saying – ‘give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man‘  Aristotle and other wise men… is also appropriate in the context of lifelong health.

These years are crucial for the development of the immune system but also brain function, bone density and healthy digestive and reproductive systems. Since this is one of the most critical periods in our development, I am looking at diet this week and next week the physical activity needed to build healthy bones and major organs in this age group, and some of the increasing deficiencies that are inhibiting that healthy development.

The diet of children used to be in the hands of their mothers primarily, with school lunches once they entered primary education. Today that has changed radically, with babies often being placed in childcare at six months old, then kindergarten until four or five when they enter primary school. The diet of our children is being handed off to others at a very early stage in their development.

I checked out some of the menus for day care and kindergarten and it is clear that many are making an effort to provide a nutritionally rich menu during the day, with input from a nutritionist, and also promoting a family atmosphere of shared eating and social interaction.

The best start to the day is a healthy breakfast that is nutritionally varied, hydrating and will keep a child satisfied until later in the morning.

At home this could be

  • a bowl of oatmeal made with milk and topped with berries or some banana, be wary of adding sugar and you can use a half a teaspoon of honey in the porridge mix to encourage your toddler or child to eat.
  • Boiled egg and wholegrain bread and butter toasted soldiers.
  • Omelette made with onions and mushrooms and a piece of wholegrain toast and butter.
  • Multigrain waffles with yogurt and berries.
  • Wholegrain pancakes with fresh fruit and yoghurt.
  • A glass of unsweetened apple juice or juice diluted with water.
  • Or a glass of milk.

In the UK there has been a great deal of government investment in school breakfast clubs which not only benefits children who might be from families with reduced circumstances but also children whose parents work, and can drop their children off early in the knowledge that they will receive a healthy start to the day.

Here is further information on the project from The School Run

Breakfast clubs may be funded by school budgets, local or national government schemes, or sponsorship from charities or businesses, so parents may or may not be expected to foot the bill. In March 2018, the government announced that it was investing £26 million – raised by the sugary drinks levy – into breakfast clubs. The clubs will be run by the charities Family Action and Magic Breakfast, and will benefit 1,770 schools in total.

Approximately a quarter of breakfast clubs are completely free for all children to attend. Some only offer free places to children from lower income families – typically those who are eligible for the pupil premium.

Others charge a nominal amount per breakfast item (from around 10p to 70p), or have a daily charge – an average £1.68 nationally – for children to attend.

More formal breakfast clubs – often those that are run by private companies with the main aim of providing before-school childcare – may have higher fees of up to £15 per session depending on the location and opening hours.

If you decide that this would suit you and your child, I do recommend that you check the menu out and ensure that it is not just a glass of orange juice and a bowl of sugar laden processed cereal. There should be wholegrains, protein such as eggs and beans on toast, milk and fruit available.  More details on one of the charities in the UK that runs the clubs can be found Magic Breakfast

School Lunches

When I was cooking school lunches forty years ago, there were very few guidelines and it was down to the individual school to set menus and budget. I was lucky that I was the caterer for a private school and was able to buy fresh local produce to deliver a varied and nutritionally balanced diet to the children I was responsible for keeping healthy.

There has been a great deal of discussion about the nutritional standard of school lunches in the UK and today whilst many positive changes have been made, there is still a great deal of room for improvement. There are Government guidelines

Food served in some schools and academies in England must meet the school food standards so that children have healthy, balanced diets.

The school food standards apply to all maintained schools, and academies that were founded before 2010 and after June 2014. They must provide:

  • high-quality meat, poultry or oily fish
  • fruit and vegetables
  • bread, other cereals and potatoes ( I do wish that they would clarify that by including wholegrain and not sugar laden cereal)
  • There can’t be:
  • drinks with added sugar, crisps, chocolate or sweets in school meals and vending machines

Government schools provide free lunches to children until the age of 7 when parents will need to pay an average of £2.20 per meal. At private schools this can be higher.

I found this site which looks at standards across Europe and what should be included both in meals that are provided and also in a packed lunch.. Generally in line with what I would recommend.

I you wish to keep the nutrition of your children in your own hands, you do have the option of sending them to school with a packed lunch. Later I have a list of foods that are great to help build healthy bodies and immune systems, and you can use them to put together healthy wholegrain sandwiches or wraps and low sugar snacks.

Every country has its own recommended standards and there are a great many sites now promoting health eating for children. As you will see in this next part of the post, there are still  some barriers to giving our children the healthiest start in life… including from our own government guidelines!

Our bodies have key three enemies attempting to breach its defences and suppress our immune systems

Over consumption of sugars, including corn syrup and other manufactured sweeteners, leading to pre-diabetes in billions of children, men and women  and full blown diabetes in half a billion people worldwide.

Diabetes Daily Rates of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are increasing globally. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Diabetes Atlas, here are the overall rates including both type 1 and type 2:

  • 415 million adults have diabetes (1 in 11 adults)
  • By 2040, 642 million adults (1 in 10 adults) are expected to have diabetes
  • 46.5% of those with diabetes have not been diagnosed
  • 1 in 7 births is affected by gestational diabetes
  • 542,000 children have type 1 diabetes
  • 12% of global health expenditure is spent on diabetes ($673 billion)

What is shameful is that sugar free varieties of baby food are made from grape juice and other fruit concentrates with thickeners and preservatives, providing refined carbohydrates and sugar…not a good combination.

Whilst we as adults are making the decisions about the health of the food they eat as children, we also need to make sure that we try to instill in them a wariness of sugary items, and that it is only to be eaten occasionally.

It is tough when this addictive sweet substance is everywhere around them… they don’t understand that the can of soda they want has 13 teaspoons of sugar, that the fruit loops their friend is allowed for breakfast has 12 teaspoons of sugar, and that the small kid’s sized chocolate bar of 45gm has 6 teaspoons. ( more about chocolate later, as no diet should be without it!)

Infiltration of even alleged healthy manufactured foods with unhealthy fats such as Canola Oil – touted as healthier than olive oil with a higher smoke point. Formerly used as an industrial lubricant and in candles, soaps, cosmetics and insecticides, it has now been turned into a cheap oil for human consumption.

The solvent used to extract the oil is a neurotoxin called Hexane which is a byproduct of the petrol production process and is a toxic pollutant. Some residue remains in the oil, not just canola, but also other oils touted as a healthy alternative including soybean oil.

Restaurants not only use this now for cooking because of its higher temperature tolerance, but they also dilute olive oil at the table to save cost. 90% of rapeseed oil (canola) is genetically modified, is a hydrogenated fat (with a 40% level of Trans Fatty Acids) and because it is so prevalent in industrially manufactured foods, it can result in numerous health issues. It has been linked to chronic inflammation the cause of many of our diseases, including damage to the brain, liver and kidneys.

What amazes me is that doctors are advising mothers to add a teaspoon of canola oil or butter to breast milk, my choice would be butter…and, many factory made baby foods contain either canola or soybean oil.

.In my opinion it has no place in a baby’s or adults diet.

There are few independent studies of the impact of consuming the oil, but there are plenty from the canola industry touting its health benefits. However, the internet now has many sites who are calling alleged expert opinion into question.

Which leads me onto the third danger to our health – Industrially led studies into a product’s health benefits, that has led to the exclusion of many natural foods and food groups in our diet in the last 50 years, contributing significantly to the current obesity epidemic, including the following that are just four that have impacted my diet since I was a teenager.

  • 50 Years Ago, Sugar Industry Quietly Paid Scientists To Point Blame At Fat : NPR Org
  • Governments still promoting a high Carbohydrate and low healthy fat food pyramid: The Hill
  • Official advice on low-fat diet and cholesterol is wrong, says health charity The Guardian
  • 1988 salmonella scare as a result of Edwina Currie’s statement:  BBC

Time to bring this back to the obesity epidemic and children aged 2 to 7 years old.

In last week’s post I shared some of the important foods to introduce into a baby’s diet once it is weaned to build a healthy immune system. These foods should be continued once a baby begins to eat more solid food…The emphasis is avoiding refined sugars and developing the baby’s palate towards the savoury rather than sweet.

Carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, courgettes (zucchini) and parsnip, avocado, apple, pear, baby porridge, banana, papaya, cod.

Developing the bacteria in the gut.

They are also excellent for beginning to establish a health colony of bacteria in a baby’s guts that will process the food that is consumed and turn it into nutrients to fuel the body and to create the necessary disease fighting blood cells. If you are interested in finding out how that happens then you might like to look at my post on the journey of a chicken sandwich through the digestive system

Without a healthy gut bacteria we are vulnerable, and at whatever stage in life we might be, at risk of developing life threatening illnesses including dementia.

The variety of foods can be expanded to include those that you are eating as a family.

Avoid high sugar packaged foods, cereals, biscuits and soft drinks. Also heavily salted processed meats.

It is important to eat healthy fats in moderation including butter and cheese.

  • leafy vegetables such as spinach, Brussel Sprouts and green cabbage
  • Salad vegetables – homemade mayonnaise without the canola oil!
  • mushrooms
  • onions and garlic
  • butternut squash,
  • organic oats and rice,
  • Homemade or fresh baked wholegrain or sourdough bread.
  • Wholegrain wraps for older children.
  • nuts such as almonds,
  • berries
  • Lower sugar fruits including melon and kiwi
  • Eggs
  • Oily fish such as salmon
  • lean protein such as chicken especially when made into soups with vegetables
  • butter
  • Cheese
  • Olive oil and Coconut oil for cooking and dressings
  • Live yogurt (no added sugar)
  • Spices in small amounts such as turmeric and ginger. ( a warming drink such as lemon and ginger)

So where does chocolate come into the equation?

I love chocolate and puddings.Growing up we had wonderful home cooked meals and desserts at the weekend. My father was a steamed treacle pudding (made with suet) and custard kind of guy. We were also given our pocket money on Saturdays and there was just enough to head over to the sweet shop on the corner for a bar of chocolate and some loose mint humbugs from one of the tall jars on the shelves.

We always seemed to be ready for our meals (including school lunches) and I don’t remember ever being picky about what I or my sisters and brother ate. We didn’t leave anything on the plate and were always up for dessert. Then again we were very active. We walked to school and back every day, spent 15 minutes mid-morning and mid-afternoon racing around the playground and 30 minutes after lunch. Once I got to secondary school I walked the mile there and back in all weathers to save my bus money, and would think nothing of walking the dog for an hour when I got home. I played netball, tennis and hockey and also went swimming three times a week.

If a child is eating three healthy balanced meals a day containing all the food groups, healthy fats, plenty of non-sugary drinks, and is also very active, then eating a bar of chocolate once a week, and having a milkshake, bowl of ice cream, dessert or french fries occasionally, is not going to do them any harm.

It is about balance and the same rule applies to us as adults. 80% of the time eat a fresh, cook from scratch, varied diet, and 20% enjoy those foods that require a little more caution.

Next time, some of the emerging nutritional deficiencies that are causing concern in young children, and building strong bones with exercise and sunshine.





Smorgasbord Health Column – Major Organs and systems of the body – The Female and Male Reproductive system – Endocrine System and hormones

Last week I looked at the various organs that make up the female reproductive system and this week one of the systems that controls its function throughout our lives and that of the male reproductive system. For this post …. both need to come together.

The endocrine system and hormones.

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. Before I cover some of the health issues later in the series, I want to cover the system that manages our reproductive system and hormones.

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.


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 and I covered this gland earlier.

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 which I described in the previous post. 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.

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.

An 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.

You will find myth busting facts about cholesterol in this Cholesterol and it is important to include sufficient amounts in your diet to keep the stores adequate for your hormone production.

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), we can turn our attention to 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.

Thyroid image

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

My nutritional background

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

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

As always delighted to get your feedback and questions. This is not intended to take the place of your doctor’s presence in your life. But, certainly in the UK, where you are allocated ten minutes for a consultation and time is of the essence; going in with some understanding of how your body works and is currently functioning can assist in making a correct diagnosis.

Some doctors believe that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. However, I believe that understanding our bodies, how it works, how we can help prevent health problems and knowing the language that doctors speak, makes a difference.  Taking responsibility for our bodies health is the first step to staying well.

Next week an overview of some of the health issues associated with the female reproductive system.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to comment or share. best wishes Sally



Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Jazz, Winter Soups, Chocolate, New books, reviews and funnies

Welcome to the weekly round up of posts the you might have missed during the week on Smorgasbord blog Magazine.

You might have noticed that the round up has a new header. Apart from looking to give the post a bit of a freshen up, I also wanted to emphasise the theme that I have developed over the last seven years, of a magazine style blog with a wide range of subjects. You will see from this round up that there are a number of regular contributors and guest writers.

Currently on a fortnightly or monthly basis I am lucky enough to have William Price King (music column), Carol Taylor (Food and Cookery Column), D.G. Kaye (Travel Column), Annette Rochelle Aben (Numerology) and Silvia Todesco (Italian Cookery) and I write the (Health Column). Jessica Norrie wrote a wonderful (Literary Column) last year which I am currently repeating.

Do you have an area of expertise that you would like to share and promote your blog or books at the same time?

If  you have an area of expertise that you would like to share here on Smorgasbord and can write a column of between 1000 to 1500 word every two weeks or once a month, then please get in touch. It could be care of elderly parents, Cooking by nationality – French, Indian, Chinese etc, Writing or Editing guidance, History of where you live etc.. contact me on so we can chat about it..

If you do not have the time to commit to a monthly column, perhaps like baking, chocolate expert and author Robbie Cheadle, you might like to do a short series of guest posts.. Check Robbie’s latest post on The York Chocolate Story later on in the round up and get in touch if you would be interested in doing something similar

From sun tan to wellies

We have had a wonderful week weather wise and we were lulled into a false sense of security. I checked the ten day forecast which predicted rain for until after October 5th and beyond so exchanging my bikini (thank goodness there are no drones in the area) I legged it to the garden centre and bought all my wintering flowering plants, some new potting compost and dashed back to spend the afternoon changing out all the pots.

This may be the last recorded sunshine of the year!  So this week I am just going to share this special moment, and the new mini cyclamens and winter flowering pansies.

Now on to the posts from the week, and as always a huge thank you to the contributors, this week William Price King, Carol Taylor and Robbie Cheadle with some special mentions.  And also for your support every week and generosity.

And a special thank you to D.G. Kaye who devoted her regular Writers Tips post to all the three Cafe and Bookstore book marketing posts so far…What an amazing thing to do. Debby has been part of the support team for the blog for five years and every night, even when she is on her winter break in Mexico she comments shares all my posts from the day across her social media. Thanks Debby and sorry they are not real…

You can find Debby’s Writing Tips:

This week William Price King celebrates the life and music of Mary Lou Williams – American Jazz Pianist, Arranger and Composer

Carol Taylor shares the joys of soup which can be eaten whatever the weather as a starter or as a snack even as a main meal if it is a substantial one served with lots of fresh crusty bread or with the addition of rice or noodles as it is served here

Carol Taylor is another friend that I owe a bouquet of flowers to. Not just for the wonderful posts that she brings us throughout the year but also the support she offers every week by sharing my posts on her eclectic and fascinating blog. Healthy eating, conservation, Thai foods and cookery and down to earth commonsense.  Next month it will be the second anniversary of the food column and I am very grateful for her generous contribution. Thank you Carol.

Here is the link to Carol’s own roundup this week and please follow if you are not already doing so:

Part two of The York Chocolate Story from Robbie Cheadle.. not sure how much more temptation I can take lol.. find out more about The Terrys and the Cravens.

My guest this week is regular guest to the blog, author Darlene Foster who has recently released another book in her successful Amanda Travel Series. Later in the post she shares an excerpt from Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action

Delighted to share my review of the third book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries Flower Power Trip.. by James J. Cudney

Twitter – New look and and step by step guide to Book Marketing useful functions.

As an author with books to market, getting as storefront on Twitter is important. It is a networking site and whilst you may not want to use for social media, it is great for connecting with other authors, reviewers, bloggers, all of whom are likely to be readers too. Here is a step by step guide to getting your books front and centre.

Chapter Eleven – Imogen spends the week before Christmas working in a funeral home, with a very dishy funeral director....

Chapter Twelve sees Imogen join an advertising sales team for a local newspaper and responsibility for one of the more cash only columns!

For this week’s Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 145 Colleen Chesebro has provided us with a photo prompt.. in a new twist the previous month’s poet of the week for the photo prompt gets to choose the image..This month that honour falls to Jane Dougherty. I have selected a #Tanka for this week’s challenge…Adrift

This week the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills prompts us to write in 99 words, no more, no less… a story about ‘an interlude’ – mine is A Musical Interlude

This is the final post from the archives of author and poet, Patricia Furstenberg who as you can tell from some of her books is a dog lover. Children and pets can be magical and bonds are formed that ensure a child never feels unsafe or alone throughout their early years. In this post Patricia explores this in more details. Pets — Understanding Your Child’s Affinity Towards Animals (2018) by Patricia Furstenberg

This is the final post from the archives of author, fitness advocate and photographer Terri Webster Schrandt. In her post Terri offers four reasons to attend the next one you are invited to. Four Reasons to Attend a Blogging Conference (2017) by Terri Webster Schrandt

Four Reason to Attend a Blogging Conference

This is the final post from the archives of Jim Borden who blogs on ‘Borden’s Blather’ across a variety of topics. I know that my computer can be funny weird… frequently but have not so far seen it be funny ha ha!  So I decided to end Jim’s short series for this season with this post. Can Computers be Funny? (2018) by Jim Borden

This is the third post from educator and author Pete Springer who began blogging in April this year. I am sure you will agree that he has made a fantastic start to his new project.  Pete shares some incidents that could have been a lot worse if laughter had not been the outcome.. and there there is the mystery of the knocking in the pipes! The Importance of a Good Sense of Humor by Pete Springer

Delighted to welcome Melanie Stewart to the series.. In Melanie’s first post she shares some of the wisdom she picked up from author Judith Viorst who is almost 90 years old and the joy that her mother who is in her 80s, has found in following Tiger Woods…. Finding Joy in your 80s and 90s (2018)

This is the first post from Peter Mohan who blogs at Cheers, Govanhill as his alter ego .. Boy David…I thought in this first post I would let Peter introduce Govanhill to you to set the scene for the other posts Thou shalt buy thy round

Photo of the mural at the Clutha bar, with Glasgow people including Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Billy Connolly, Alex Harvey, Gerry Rafferty and Frankie Miller

New Book on the Shelves

Author updates – Reviews

I repeat this series in particular every year, in the hopes that those who are new to the blog will find it interesting and useful. I worked with couples who were planning on getting pregnant and it was important that both understood how each other’s reproductive systems worked. Also if you know your body well, if something is even slightly different from the norm, it encourages you to have it checked out. The Female Reproductive System.

After 45 years of working in the food industry and then in the last twenty as a nutritional therapist, I explore where in the life cycle we can intervene to prevent the current obesity crisis.

Thank you very much for dropping in today and for your support.. it is much appreciated.. Thanks Sally.