Smorgasbord Health Column – Foods to boost your blood health #Anaemia #Fatigue


Following on from the previous posts on our blood and anaemia, here are some blood boosting foods and suggestions for menus to put them together for maximum effect.

As we get older, our bodies find it more difficult to metabolise the food that we eat in an efficient manner. Illness and stress can also cause deficiencies to occur. As I have covered in the last few blogs, one of the most common health problems we are likely to encounter is anaemia in varying degrees from mild to dangerous levels. The aim is to consume a diet rich in the specific nutrients needed to maintain healthy blood but it is difficult to visualise when someone simply tells you to eat B6, B12, Folate etc. So I have put together those nutrients with the foods that contain them so that you can just pop to the supermarket and fill your trolley.

I would suggest that anyone who like me is 60+ should include these foods on a regular basis in your daily diet.

This specific eating plan includes the foods that will provide you with the necessary nutrients for healthy blood but do remember that if you are exhibiting any symptoms that indicate you are anaemic you should go to your doctor and seek medical advice. You will find those in one of the previous posts which are linked to below.

As always I do stress that it is better to ‘cook from scratch’ but there are certain staples that you can include in your pantry. Many people prefer an easy start to the day with a bowl of cereal and perhaps a piece of toast. Cereals today are very different from our childhood when all you got was the grain. Today I am afraid you are likely to get a lot more sugar which somewhat negates the benefit of the wholegrain. If I have cereal I have porridge oats but for the sake of variety do check the labels and buy wholegrain varieties with as little sugar or even worse, artificial sweeteners as possible.

Picture3In recent months there has been a lot of speculation about whole grains in our diet in relation to what is referred to as our ‘gut brain’. I covered the topic in an earlier series on digestion but my opinion remains the same. Provided you are not celiac or have chronic intestinal problems, whole grains are essential in our diets to provide B vitamins, other nutrients and fibre. We certainly need less as we get older because our activity levels drop but carbohydrates from grains are needed to provide the fuel that we require for our energy levels. Drop those too low and your fatigue will be intensified. You can still eat carbohydrates from potatoes and other root vegetables and add in one or two portions of grains per day depending on your exercise levels.

Here are some suggestions for the main meals of the day plus snacks.

Breakfast choose one selection per day and rotate so that you are getting variety and different nutrients.

  • Most cereals have B12, B6, Folic Acid and Iron – check the labels to establish that. Some will be added as fortification but if it is a wheat cereal it will have natural nutrients.
  • Have cereal or porridge and a glass of orange juice to help the digestion of iron with Vitamin C. Have some soaked prunes on your porridge or chopped dry prunes or apricots on your cereal, as these are high in iron.
  • If you are not trying to lose weight then have a piece of wholemeal toast with butter and marmalade as well. Better to have small amount of good quality chunky marmalade than a watery processed diet version.
  • Sprinkle a dessertspoon of wheatgerm on the top of your cereal or your porridge as this has B6, iron and manganese together (B12, B6, Folic Acid, Iron, Manganese and Vitamin C)
  • Half a grapefruit with two pieces of wholemeal toast and marmalade. (Vitamin C –Manganese)
  • For a cooked breakfast you could have poached egg on two pieces of wholemeal toast with an orange juice. (Manganese, Vitamin C, B12 and B6)

(A tip here is to avoid wheat bran, as this can actually prevent absorption of iron. As unfortunately can too much tea, so do try and restrict your intake to no more than three cups a day of good quality leaf tea rather than the processed bags. Coffee has some health benefits too and a cup or two of fresh ground coffee with some hot milk is fine. If you have high blood pressure however you might have ground decaffeinated instead.

Picture2Snack

  • Have a mid-morning snack as part of your healthy eating plan. You could have a handful of the mixed seeds and nuts (B6, Manganese)
  • 2 mandarin oranges (Vitamin C again, to help the iron you have already ingested to be absorbed)
  • A banana (B6)
  • Slice of wholemeal toast with mashed banana (Manganese and B6)

Lunch

Assuming this is your main meal of the day – choose from the following meats:

  • · Lamb
  • · Chicken
  • · Turkey
  • · Salmon
  • · Beef
  • · Lamb’s liver
    (try to have liver at least once a week) (folate, B6, B12 and iron)
  • · Potatoes
  • · Wholemeal rice or pasta (manganese – folate)

Lots of vegetables including every day a serving of a dark green leafy vegetable like spinach (Folate-Iron) Cauliflower (raw) (Vit K), Broccoli (calcium)

Use olive oil or good quality sunflower oil for cooking or as a dressing (Essential fatty acids and Vitamin E)

orangesSnack

  • Nuts and seeds. For men pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of Zinc and helpful to keep the prostate healthy.
  • Slice of wholemeal toast with butter and a thin slice of mature cheddar.
  • Home-made wholemeal scone with butter and sugar free jam.
  • Fruit such as oranges.
  • Yoghurt live with no sugar but chop up some fruit such as berries into it.

If you are not going to hit the dance floor every evening, having a heavy meal at night can cause digestive problems and provides energy that you are not going to use up.. This will result in storage of the excess around your middle. If it is your main meal of the day keep your grain and other carbohydrates to your lunch and eat protein with lots of freshly prepared salads and vegetables. A smaller amount of carbohydrate up to 2 hours before going to sleep is fine. As you will see from the lists one piece of toast, one piece of Pitta bread, two tablespoons of whole grain pasta.

Dinner

beansAssuming this is a lighter meal.

  • · Scrambled Eggs on toast (B6, B12, Folate, Manganese)
  • · Omelette and Green leafy mixed salad (B6, B12, Folate)
  • · Wholemeal Pitta bread with chicken or tuna and salad filling (B6, B12, Iron)
  • · Eggs Florentine – baked egg on spinach with some hollandaise sauce
  • · Homemade wholemeal pasta in tomato sauce on toast.
  • · Small tin of sugar free baked beans on wholemeal toast.
  • · Seafood cocktail on with clams – cockles – prawns. Serve on half an avocado Slice of bread and butter.

Snack

bananas

  • One of the snacks from above that you have not already had.
  • Cup of Cocoa (iron)
  • Cup of Ginger Tea and a wholemeal digestive biscuit (Manganese)
  • A banana (B6)

As you can see from the above eating plan, there are many foods that will help keep your blood healthy. Get creative in your own kitchen, using fresh unprocessed ingredients and you can’t go wrong.

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

My nutritional background

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

You can find all my books here with links to Amazon: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2018/

Thank you for reading the post and you will find all the other articles in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-column-news-nutrients-health-conditions-anti-aging/

Smorgasbord Health Column – The Blood – Oxygen distribution, waste disposal and Anaemia


health column final

I have covered in earlier posts the absolute necessity of oxygen to our survival. It is unlikely that you will survive longer than six minutes without breathing in oxygen, but it is also vitally important for the survival of every cell within the body. If an area of the cardiovascular system is damaged and oxygen is unable to reach the tissues directly affected then that tissue will die and the infection generated will compromise the health of the rest of the body. The most vulnerable parts of the body are the hands and feet where irreparable damage to the tiny network of capillaries could lead to amputation.

The oxygen carriers.

The red blood cells are responsible for the transportation of both oxygen and carbon dioxide within the haemoglobin in the blood.

red blood cellsAs important as breathing in and utilising oxygen is concerned, getting rid of the carbon dioxide waste, which is produced during this process, is equally important. Some carbon dioxide produced in the tissues is processed and converted to a harmless substance that can be eliminated easily but some has to be transported via the blood stream back to the lungs to be got rid of.

Other transportation duties

Substances in the bloodstream like cholesterol and other fats are transported around the body, from originating organs like the liver, to elimination points where they are removed from the blood and either absorbed into cells or processing points such as the kidneys. This process is used to transport glucose and sugars, hormones and waste products like urea that becomes urine.

We are an extremely efficient waste producer and it is when this waste is not eliminated safely, and regularly, from the body that we become ill and diseased.

There are a number of blood disorders that cause concern and one of the most common is Anaemia so I am going to focus on that today – with the foods and therefore the nutrients we require to support healthy blood over the next couple of blogs.

Anaemia

There are actually several types of Anaemia but whilst there are a number of reasons as you will see for the blood disorder, I will focus on just two. Iron deficiency Anaemia and Pernicious Anaemia sometimes also known as Megaloblastic Anaemia. This anaemia is a Vitamin Deficiency anaemia and whilst requires medical supplementation of Vitamin B12 can still be supported by a healthy diet.

Iron deficiency Anaemia is one of the most common types and is usually associated with women. Mostly in pregnancy, but it can also affect women who have suffered heavy periods throughout their reproductive lives. As the name implies, it is caused by the lack of iron.

This might be because you have not taken in sufficient iron through your diet but it is also a vicious circle. The more blood you lose the more red blood cells you lose. These red blood cells release the iron when they die, and it is absorbed back into the system. If you sustain a lot of blood loss each month you will have increasingly less red blood cells which will lead to an iron deficiency over time.

Pregnant women lose their store of iron to the foetus, which is why many are put on an iron supplement although they can take in sufficient with an appropriate diet.

There are also other causes of blood loss, such as surgery or internal bleeding, but there are some diseases such as chronic bowel problems that induce a slow loss of blood over a long period of time and this can lead to Anaemia. If this is the case then you need to ensure that you visit your GP and ask for a blood test and do not take no for an answer. Chronic tiredness which is a symptom of Anaemia always needs to be investigated.

Earlier in my blogs I wrote about Candida Albicans, a parasite that robs nutrients from your food for its own use. This means iron too. As a result, part of the chronic fatigue associated with Candida can be linked to mild forms of anaemia. Posts on Candida can be found in the Health Directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-column-news-nutrients-health-conditions-anti-aging/

Iron Deficiency Anaemia

Of the two anaemias this one is wholly preventable and treatable with changes in diet and in some cases, supplementation.

The key to the diet is not just taking in iron in extra quantities and in fact it is not a good idea to suddenly rush off and grab yourself a bottle of iron tablets and start taking a handful as this can lead to chronic constipation. It is far better to start with adjusting your diet to include foods that are a good source of the mineral. If you need additional supplementation then you should follow the advice of a professional practitioner.

What is pernicious anaemia?

Pernicious Anaemia is actually a vitamin deficiency rather than an iron deficiency. As well as iron, your body needs B6, B12 and folic acid, or folate, to produce enough healthy red blood cells. If your diet is lacking in these, then you will have fewer red blood cells, and therefore less iron, and be anaemic.

Who is the most likely to suffer from this type of anaemia?

Both men and women suffer from this type of anaemia. In rare cases it can be genetic or congenital when someone is born with the inability to absorb Vitamin B12 from their diet. In this case although a healthy diet will support the sufferer they have to be treated with injections of B12 or large doses orally for the rest of their lives.

Nutrition and blood diseases.

Diet plays an enormous part in the prevention and treatment of blood diseases. Today’s diet of processed foods, additives, chemicals and fad weight-loss plans are all contributing to the inability of our body to process the necessary and vital nutrients efficiently. I have worked with many people who decide that they are going to become vegetarian and have done so without finding appropriate substitutes for animal products that previously provided nutrients such as iron and the B vitamins. If you wish to become vegetarian then make sure that you are getting sufficient wholegrains, fermented soy products like miso or Tempeh and plenty of fresh fruit and green vegetables. There is plenty of advice online on how to change your diet safely so please take advantage of that.

In some anaemic patients it is the result of a disease or condition that prevents absorption of nutrients in general – such as Candida – Crohns disease or if someone is celiac. Anything that affects the small intestine will cause mal-absorption of nutrients and result in possible anaemia

Also, long-term medication, use of the pill, HRT and chemotherapy can have an effect on the way we absorb iron, B6, B12 and Folate. As I mentioned earlier, any blood-loss means that the iron that is normally recycled when cells die off naturally is not available. It is important that anyone who has been through an intensive a treatment for a disease such as cancer receives nutritional support afterwards to ensure that their diet is absolutely optimum for regaining healthy red blood cells.

What symptoms would someone experience if they were anaemic?

People will vary with the symptoms depending on the severity of the problem.

  •  Generally people will begin to feel very tired. As we have said the body is being deprived of one of its main energy sources – oxygen.
  •  Some may experience rapid heartbeats – perhaps find themselves getting breathless when they have not really over exerted themselves.
  • There might be some chest pain associated with the symptoms – headaches or dizziness.
  • Hands and feet can become numb and very cold.
  • Nausea, causing loss of appetite and weight loss.
  • Bleeding gums and a yellowish tinge to the skin and around the eyes.

What should you do if you feel that you might be anaemic?

If anyone is suffering from any of the symptoms above and is worried they should go and see their doctor and ask them to do a blood test. It would certainly either put their mind at rest or establish that there is a problem which can be easily treated – if necessary with a short term course of iron supplements or, if the problem is more serious, with injections. For dietary based anaemia or where it is only a temporary problem with absorption of B12 – diet and supplementation might be appropriate.

If the problem is a long term issue, as with pernicious anaemia, then the treatment usually consists of injections – daily to begin with, for a week or so, until the condition as stabilised and then as required, which might be monthly or three-monthly. If B12 is given orally it requires much higher dosages to ensure absorption but there is currently experimentation with sublingual supplementation.

Both these types of anaemia can be supported with a healthy diet and next time a look at the nutrients that are needed to support the health of the red blood cells and the foods you need to obtain them.

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

My nutritional background

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

You can find all my books here with links to Amazon: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2018/

Thank you for reading the post and your feedback is always welcome. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Health Column – Nutrients that work better with others (Part Two) – Iron and Vitamin C and B2 by Sally Cronin


The body requires a wide range of nutrients to obtain what it needs, and up until the food industry began importing foreign produce and canning foods, we would have eaten seasonally. Do you get into May or June and start to crave crisp salad leaves, tomatoes, cucumber and spring onions? Do you get to October and suddenly want to dive into root vegetable stews and soups and mashed swede or parsnips with a pudding of berries on porridge? That is your ancestral instinct for seasonal foods.

Now that we can pick and choose our food to buy rather than gather… it does mean that sometimes we are not getting the right combination of nutrients together to be effective. Some nutrients require other vitamins or minerals to be absorbed by the body and this applies not only to the food that we consume but any supplements that we take.

Last week I looked at the synergistic relationship between Calcium, magnesium, Vitamin D and K2 for both bone and immune system health.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/03/15/smorgasbord-health-column-nutrients-that-need-others-to-be-efficiently-absorbed-by-the-body/

This week it is the turn of Iron and Vitamin C and also Vitamin B2 to ensure that the mineral is absorbed efficiently.

Anaemia

There are actually several types of Anaemia but for his post I will just look at Iron deficiency Anaemia. If you would like to know more about this condition you will find more information in this post.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/29/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe-the-blood-oxygen-distritution-waste-disposal-and-anaemia/

Iron deficiency Anaemia is one of the most common types and is usually associated with women. Mostly in pregnancy, but it can also affect women who have suffered heavy periods throughout their reproductive lives. It can also be the result of injuries or chronic bowel conditions where here is a slow but steady loss of blood.  It can also be the result of a diet lacking in iron rich foods.

What symptoms would someone experience if they were anaemic?

People will vary with the symptoms depending on the severity of the problem.

  • Generally people will begin to feel very tired. As we have said the body is being deprived of one of its main energy sources – oxygen.
  • Some may experience rapid heartbeats – perhaps find themselves getting breathless when they have not really over exerted themselves.
  • There might be some chest pain associated with the symptoms – headaches or dizziness.
  • Hands and feet can become numb and very cold.
  • Nausea, causing loss of appetite and weight loss.
  • Bleeding gums and a yellowish tinge to the skin and around the eyes.

red blood cellsIRON

Iron is vital to the health of the entire human body and is present in every cell. It is part of haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of the blood, and normally the body would contain around 4 grams of iron.

Iron is also a component of myoglobin, which distributes and helps muscle cells store oxygen. Without iron the Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP the fuel we run on) could not be produced and long term this is very serious.

A deficiency can occur because you have not taken in sufficient iron through your diet but it is also a vicious circle. The more blood you lose the more red blood cells you lose and therefore iron. Women who sustain a lot of blood loss each month, are at a high risk as they have increasingly less red blood cells, which will lead to an iron deficiency over time.

Food sources for iron

Dietary iron is found in two forms, haem iron and non-haem iron. (Heme in US). Haem iron, which is the most absorbable, is found only in animal flesh as it is taken from the haemoglobin and myoglobin in animal tissue. Non-haem iron is found in plant foods.

Although there are iron rich plant foods they come with an additional element called phytates which bind to the iron and inhibit its absorption by the body. This means that vegetarians in particular need to consume Vitamin C rich foods at the same time as it disrupts the action of the phytates, releasing more iron into the body.

Iron (non-haem) rich plant food sources include whole grains and fortifed cereals, watercress, spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, legumes, Sweet Potatoes tofu, pumpkin seeds, and tofu. Strawberries, tomatoes,watermelon, prunes and dried apricots.

 

Iron (Haem)rich protein sources include:

mussels Cockles, Mussels, Clams, Liver, Kidneys, Poultry, Halibut, Salmon, Haddock, Tuna, Canned sardines, Home cooked ham.

tunaPrunes and other dried fruit especially Apricots, Whole grain rice, Spinach, Nuts, Tofu, Beans, Pumpkin and Sunflower seeds, Wheat germ, Cocoa

seedsDrinking and eating high Vitamin C content foods at the same time may help your body absorb iron more efficiently especially if you are vegetarian or if you have a low animal protein diet.

fruit and veg bannerThe best food source of vitamin C is all fresh, raw fruit and vegetables.  Avoid buying prepared peeled and cut vegetables and fruit, as they will have lost the majority of their vitamin C.  If you prepare juices at home, always drink within a few hours preferably immediately.  Do not boil fruit and vegetables, it is better to eat raw whenever possible preserving all their nutrient content, but at the very least only steam lightly.

Researchers believe that taking in adequate amounts of Vitamin C is the best private health insurance that you can take out.

The best food source is of course fresh fruit and vegetables but the highest concentrations are in Blackcurrants, blueberries, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cherries, grapefruit, guavas, kiwi fruit, lemons, oranges, parsley, peppers, rosehip, potatoes, tomatoes and watercress.

The role of B2 in the uptake of iron (more information in the next couple of weeks when I will cover the vitamin in more detail).

Research into anaemia has highlighted the role of B2 in the body’s inability to manufacture red blood cells. There are two areas that would appear to be particularly critical. One is the vitamin’s role in mobilising iron from storage to the cells and secondly that a deficiency prevents the efficient absorption of iron.

Energy

Vitamin B2 is a vitamin that is essential for metabolising carbohydrates to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate) without which we would be totally lacking in energy. It also works with enzymes in the liver to eliminate toxins, which helps keep us clear of infection.

The vitamin is water-soluble and cannot be stored in the body except in very small amounts so needs to be replenished from diet every day.

Dairy products are one of the main sources of B2 but there are adequate levels in other foods too. There is some articles on the possibility that dairy products might inhibit the uptake of Iron but because it is also the best source of B2 I feel that may be misleading. The same applies to eggs…

Other food sources for B2

 

Almonds, Beef or Lamb or other dark meats, oily fish such as mackeral, eggs, brown mushrooms, sesame seeds and spinach.

Combining iron, vitamin C and B2 rich foods inyour meals to ensure efficient manufacture of red blood cells, mobilising iron from the stores to the cells and healthy absorption.

Breakfast – wholegrain toast with a poached egg and grilled tomato – add a glass of orange juice for Vitamin C.

Or a glass of orange juice, porridge with milk and black or blueberries.

Lunch – Homemade butternut squash and red pepper soup, slice of whole grain bread and a bowl of strawberries.

Snack – a handful of almonds.

Dinner – Grilled Tuna, Chicken, steak with jacket potato and a watercress, cucumber, tomato salad, followed by a bowl of fruit salad in apple juice.

Supplements.

The same applies should you be considering taking any supplements that contain iron. If you are taking tablets then drink a glass of high concentrated Vitamin C fruit juice.. Or like I do, take a liquid form in a glass of juice.

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. 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. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook from:  http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

And Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4: http://www.moyhill.com/html/just_food_for_health.html

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is sally.cronin@moyhill.com. I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Top to Toe – Foods to boost your blood health.


Smorgasbord Health 2017

Following on from the previous posts on our blood and anaemia, here are some blood boosting foods and suggestions for menus to put them together for maximum effect.

As we get older, our bodies find it more difficult to metabolise the food that we eat in an efficient manner. Illness and stress can also cause deficiencies to occur. As I have covered in the last few blogs, one of the most common health problems we are likely to encounter is anaemia in varying degrees from mild to dangerous levels. The aim is to consume a diet rich in the specific nutrients needed to maintain healthy blood but it is difficult to visualise when someone simply tells you to eat B6, B12, Folate etc. So I have put together those nutrients with the foods that contain them so that you can just pop to the supermarket and fill your trolley.

I would suggest that anyone who like me is 60+ should include these foods on a regular basis in your daily diet.

This specific eating plan includes the foods that will provide you with the necessary nutrients for healthy blood but do remember that if you are exhibiting any symptoms that indicate you are anaemic you should go to your doctor and seek medical advice. You will find those in one of the previous posts which are linked to below.

As always I do stress that it is better to ‘cook from scratch’ but there are certain staples that you can include in your pantry. Many people prefer an easy start to the day with a bowl of cereal and perhaps a piece of toast. Cereals today are very different from our childhood when all you got was the grain. Today I am afraid you are likely to get a lot more sugar which somewhat negates the benefit of the wholegrain. If I have cereal I have porridge oats but for the sake of variety do check the labels and buy wholegrain varieties with as little sugar or even worse, artificial sweeterners as possible.

Picture3In recent months there has been a lot of speculation about wholegrains in our diet in relation to what is referred to as our ‘gut brain’. I covered the topic in an earlier series on digestion but my opinion remains the same. Provided you are not celiac or have chronic intestinal problems, wholegrains are essential in our diets to provide B vitamins, other nutrients and fibre. We certainly need less as we get older because our activity levels drop but carbohydrates from grains are needed to provide the fuel that we require for our energy levels. Drop those too low and your fatigue will be intensified. You can still eat carbohydrates from potatoes and other root vegetables and add in one or two portions of grains per day depending on your exercise levels.

Here are some suggestions for the main meals of the day plus snacks.

Breakfast choose one selection per day and rotate so that you are getting variety and different nutrients.

  • Most cereals have B12, B6, Folic Acid and Iron – check the labels to establish that. Some will be added as fortification but if it is a wheat cereal it will have natural nutrients.
  • Have cereal or porridge and a glass of orange juice to help the digestion of iron with Vitamin C. Have some soaked prunes on your porridge or chopped dry prunes on your cereal, as these are high in iron.
  • If you are not trying to lose weight then have a piece of wholemeal toast with butter and marmalade as well. Better to have small amount of good quality chunky marmalade than a watery processed diet version.
  • Sprinkle a dessertspoon of wheatgerm on the top of your cereal or your porridge as this has B6, iron and manganese together (B12, B6, Folic Acid, Iron, Manganese and Vitamin C)
  • Half a grapefruit with two pieces of wholemeal toast and marmalade. (Vitamin C –Manganese)
  • For a cooked breakfast you could have poached egg on two pieces of wholemeal toast with an orange juice. (Manganese, Vitamin C, B12 and B6)

(A tip here is to avoid wheat bran, as this can actually prevent absorption of iron. As unfortunately can too much tea, so do try and restrict your intake to no more than three cups a day of good quality leaf tea rather than the processed bags. Coffee has some health benefits too and a cup or two of fresh ground coffee with some hot milk is fine. If you have high blood pressure however you might have ground decaffeinated instead.

Picture2

Snack

  • Have a mid-morning snack as part of your healthy eating plan. You could have a handful of the mixed seeds and nuts (B6, Manganese)
  • 2 mandarin oranges (Vitamin C again, to help the iron you have already ingested to be absorbed)
  • A banana (B6)
  • Slice of wholemeal toast with mashed banana (Manganese and B6)

Lunch

Assuming this is your main meal of the day – choose from the following meats:

  • · Lamb
  • · Chicken
  • · Turkey
  • · Salmon
  • · Beef
  • · Lamb’s liver
    (try to have liver at least once a week) (folate, B6, B12 and iron)
  • · Potatoes
  • · Wholemeal rice or pasta (manganese – folate)

Lots of vegetables including every day a serving of a dark green leafy vegetable like spinach (Folate-Iron) Cauliflower (raw) (Vit K), Broccoli (calcium)

Use olive oil or good quality sunflower oil for cooking or as a dressing (Essential fatty acids and Vitamin E)

oranges

Snack

  • Nuts and seeds. For men pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of Zinc and helpful to keep the prostate healthy.
  • Slice of wholemeal toast with butter and a thin slice of mature cheddar.
  • Home-made wholemeal scone with butter and sugar free jam.
  • Fruit such as oranges.
  • Yoghurt live with no sugar but chop up some fruit such as berries into it.

If you are not going to hit the dance floor every evening, having a heavy meal at night can cause digestive problems and provides energy that you are not going to use up.. This will result in storage of the excess around your middle. If it is your main meal of the day keep your grain and other carbohydrates to your lunch and eat protein with lots of freshly prepared salads and vegetables. A smaller amount of carbohydrate up to 2 hours before going to sleep is fine. As you will see from the lists one piece of toast, one piece of Pitta bread, two tablespoons of whole grain pasta.

Dinner

beans

Assuming this is a lighter meal.

  • · Scrambled Eggs on toast (B6, B12, Folate, Manganese)
  • · Omelette and Green leafy mixed salad (B6, B12, Folate)
  • · Wholemeal Pitta bread with chicken or tuna and salad filling (B6, B12, Iron)
  • · Eggs Florentine – baked egg on spinach with some hollandaise sauce
  • · Homemade wholemeal pasta in tomato sauce on toast.
  • · Small tin of sugar free baked beans on wholemeal toast.
  • · Seafood cocktail on with clams – cockles – prawns. Serve on half an avocado Slice of bread and butter.

Snack

bananas

  • One of the snacks from above that you have not already had.
  • Cup of Cocoa (iron)
  • Cup of Ginger Tea and a wholemeal digestive biscuit (Manganese)
  • A banana (B6)

As you can see from the above eating plan, there are many foods that will help keep your blood healthy. Get creative in your own kitchen, using fresh unprocessed ingredients and you can’t go wrong.

Roast Dinner by Poolegrammar.com

©sallycronin Just Food For Health 1998 – 2017

You will find the other Top to Toe post in this directory

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe/

Thank you for dropping by… Sally

 

 

 

 

Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Top to Toe – The Blood – Oxygen distribution, waste disposal andAnaemia


Smorgasbord Health 2017

I have covered in earlier posts the absolute necessity of oxygen to our survival. It is unlikely that you will survive longer than six minutes without breathing in oxygen, but it is also vitally important for the survival of every cell within the body. If an area of the cardiovascular system is damaged and oxygen is unable to reach the tissues directly affected then that tissue will die and the infection generated will compromise the health of the rest of the body. The most vulnerable parts of the body are the hands and feet where irreparable damage to the tiny network of capillaries could lead to amputation.

The oxygen carriers.

The red blood cells are responsible for the transportation of both oxygen and carbon dioxide within the haemoglobin in the blood.

red blood cells

As important as breathing in and utilising oxygen is concerned, getting rid of the carbon dioxide waste, which is produced during this process, is equally important. Some carbon dioxide produced in the tissues is processed and converted to a harmless substance that can be eliminated easily but some has to be transported via the blood stream back to the lungs to be got rid of.

Other transportation duties

Substances in the bloodstream like cholesterol and other fats are transported around the body, from originating organs like the liver, to elimination points where they are removed from the blood and either absorbed into cells or processing points such as the kidneys. This process is used to transport glucose and sugars, hormones and waste products like urea that becomes urine.

We are an extremely efficient waste producer and it is when this waste is not eliminated safely, and regularly, from the body that we become ill and diseased.

There are a number of blood disorders that cause concern and one of the most common is Anaemia so I am going to focus on that today – with the foods and therefore the nutrients we require to support healthy blood over the next couple of blogs.

Anaemia

There are actually several types of Anaemia but whilst there are a number of reasons as you will see for the blood disorder, I will focus on just two. Iron deficiency Anaemia and Pernicious Anaemia sometimes also known as Megaloblastic Anaemia. This anaemia is a Vitamin Deficiency anaemia and whilst requires medical supplementation of Vitamin B12 can still be supported by a healthy diet.

Iron deficiency Anaemia is one of the most common types and is usually associated with women. Mostly in pregnancy, but it can also affect women who have suffered heavy periods throughout their reproductive lives. As the name implies, it is caused by the lack of iron.

This might be because you have not taken in sufficient iron through your diet but it is also a vicious circle. The more blood you lose the more red blood cells you lose. These red blood cells release the iron when they die, and it is absorbed back into the system. If you sustain a lot of blood loss each month you will have increasingly less red blood cells which will lead to an iron deficiency over time.

Pregnant women lose their store of iron to the foetus, which is why many are put on an iron supplement although they can take in sufficient with an appropriate diet.

There are also other causes of blood loss, such as surgery or internal bleeding, but there are some diseases such as chronic bowel problems that induce a slow loss of blood over a long period of time and this can lead to Anaemia. If this is the case then you need to ensure that you visit your GP and ask for a blood test and do not take no for an answer. Chronic tiredness which is a symptom of Anaemia always needs to be investigated.

Earlier in my blogs I wrote about Candida Albicans, a parasite that robs nutrients from your food for its own use. This means iron too. As a result, part of the chronic fatigue associated with Candida can be linked to mild forms of anaemia. Posts on Candida can be found in the Health Directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-directory/

Iron Deficiency Anaemia

Of the two anaemias this one is wholly preventable and treatable with changes in diet and in some cases, supplementation.

The key to the diet is not just taking in iron in extra quantities and in fact it is not a good idea to suddenly rush off and grab yourself a bottle of iron tablets and start taking a handful as this can lead to chronic constipation. It is far better to start with adjusting your diet to include foods that are a good source of the mineral. If you need additional supplementation then you should follow the advice of a professional practitioner.

What is pernicious anaemia?

Pernicious Anaemia is actually a vitamin deficiency rather than an iron deficiency. As well as iron, your body needs B6, B12 and folic acid, or folate, to produce enough healthy red blood cells. If your diet is lacking in these, then you will have fewer red blood cells, and therefore less iron, and be anaemic.

Who is the most likely to suffer from this type of anaemia?

Both men and women suffer from this type of anaemia. In rare cases it can be genetic or congenital when someone is born with the inability to absorb Vitamin B12 from their diet. In this case although a healthy diet will support the sufferer they have to be treated with injections of B12 or large doses orally for the rest of their lives.

Nutrition and blood diseases.

Diet plays an enormous part in the prevention and treatment of blood diseases. Today’s diet of processed foods, additives, chemicals and fad weight-loss plans are all contributing to the inability of our body to process the necessary and vital nutrients efficiently. I have worked with many people who decide that they are going to become vegetarian and have done so without finding appropriate substitutes for animal products that previously provided nutrients such as iron and the B vitamins. If you wish to become vegetarian then make sure that you are getting sufficient wholegrains, fermented soy products like miso or Tempeh and plenty of fresh fruit and green vegetables. There is plenty of advice online on how to change your diet safely so please take advantage of that.

In some anaemic patients it is the result of a disease or condition that prevents absorption of nutrients in general – such as Candida – Crohns disease or if someone is celiac. Anything that affects the small intestine will cause mal-absorption of nutrients and result in possible anaemia

Also, long-term medication, use of the pill, HRT and chemotherapy can have an effect on the way we absorb iron, B6, B12 and Folate. As I mentioned earlier, any blood-loss means that the iron that is normally recycled when cells die off naturally is not available. It is important that anyone who has been through an intensive a treatment for a disease such as cancer receives nutritional support afterwards to ensure that their diet is absolutely optimum for regaining healthy red blood cells.

What symptoms would someone experience if they were anaemic?

People will vary with the symptoms depending on the severity of the problem.

  •  Generally people will begin to feel very tired. As we have said the body is being deprived of one of its main energy sources – oxygen.
  •  Some may experience rapid heartbeats – perhaps find themselves getting breathless when they have not really over exerted themselves.
  • There might be some chest pain associated with the symptoms – headaches or dizziness.
  • Hands and feet can become numb and very cold.
  • Nausea, causing loss of appetite and weight loss.
  • Bleeding gums and a yellowish tinge to the skin and around the eyes.

What should you do if you feel that you might be anaemic?

If anyone is suffering from any of the symptoms above and is worried they should go and see their doctor and ask them to do a blood test. It would certainly either put their mind at rest or establish that there is a problem which can be easily treated – if necessary with a short term course of iron supplements or, if the problem is more serious, with injections. For dietary based anaemia or where it is only a temporary problem with absorption of B12 – diet and supplementation might be appropriate.

If the problem is a long term issue, as with pernicious anaemia, then the treatment usually consists of injections – daily to begin with, for a week or so, until the condition as stabilised and then as required, which might be monthly or three-monthly. If B12 is given orally it requires much higher dosages to ensure absorption but there is currently experimentation with sublingual supplementation.

Both these types of anaemia can be supported with a healthy diet and next time a look at the nutrients that are needed to support the health of the red blood cells and the foods you need to obtain them.

You can find all the Top to Toe posts in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe/

Thank you for dropping by ..Sally

 

 

Smorgasbord Health – Vitamin of the Week – Vitamin C – Immune System and 3000 biological reactions.


smorgasbord healthVitamin C is probably one of the best known of our nutrients. It is rightly so as it has so many important functions within the body including keeping our immune system fighting fit. The best way to take in Vitamin C is through our diet, in a form that our body recognises and can process to extract what it needs.  For example a large orange a day will provide you with a wonderfully sweet way to obtain a good amount of vitamin C, but to your body that orange represents an essential element of over 3000 biological processes in the body!
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Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid is water-soluble and cannot be stored in the body.  It therefore needs to be taken in through our food on a daily basis.  It is in fact the body’s most powerful water-soluble antioxidant and plays a vital role in protecting the body against oxidative damage from free radicals.  It works by neutralising potentially harmful reactions in the water- based parts of our body such as the blood and within the fluids surrounding every cell. It helps prevent harmful cholesterol (LDL) from free radical damage, which can lead to plaque forming on the inside of arteries, blocking them.  The antioxidant action protects the health or the heart, the brain and many other bodily tissues.

Vitamin C is an effective agent when it comes to boosting our immune systems.  It works by increasing the production of our white blood cells that make up our defence system, in particular B and T cells.  It also increases levels of interferon and antibody responses improving antibacterial and antiviral effects.  The overall effect is improved resistance to infection and it may also reduce the duration of the symptoms of colds for example.  It may do this by decreasing  the blood levels of histamine, which has triggered the tissue inflammation and caused a runny nose.  It has not been proven but certainly taking  vitamin C in the form of fruit and vegetable juices is not going to be harmful. Another affect may be protective as it prevents oxidative damage to the cells and tissues that occur when cells are fighting off infection.

This vitamin plays a role along with the B vitamins we have already covered in the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps determine our emotional well being.

Collagen is the protein that forms the basis of our connective tissue that is the most abundant tissue in the body.  It glues cells together, supports and protects our organs, blood vessels, joints and muscles and also forms a major part of our skin, tendons, ligaments, corneas of the eye, cartilage, teeth and bone.  Collagen also promotes healing of wounds, fractures and bruises.  It is the degeneration of our collagen that leads to external signs of ageing such as wrinkles and sagging skin.  There is a similar affect internally that can lead to degenerative diseases such as arthritis.  Vitamin C is vital for the manufacture of collagen and is why taking in healthy amounts in your diet can combat the signs of ageing.

Our hormones require Vitamin C for the synthesis of hormones by the adrenal glands.  These glands are situated above each kidney and are responsible for excreting the steroid hormones.  The most important of these are aldosterone and cortisol.  Cortisol regulates carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism.  Aldosterone regulates water and salt balance in the body and the other steroid hormones, of which there are 30, help counteract allergies, inflammation and other metabolic processes that are absolutely essential to life.

The cardiovascular system relies on Vitamin C that plays a role in cholesterol production in the liver and in the conversion of cholesterol into bile acids for excretion from the body.  The vitamin also promotes normal total blood cholesterol and LDL (lousy cholesterol levels) and raises the levels of the more beneficial HDL (Healthy cholesterol) It supports healthy circulation and blood pressure, which in turn supports the heart.

The other areas that Vitamin C has shown it might be helpful to the body is in the lungs reducing breathing difficulties and improving lung and white blood cell function.  It is recommended that smokers take Vitamin C not just in their diet but also as supplementation.  Exposure to cigarette smoke may severely deplete the presence of Vitamin C in the lungs leading to cell damage.

Many studies are showing that Vitamin C can protect the health of the eye by possibly reducing ultra violet damage.  The vitamin is very concentrated in the lenses of the normal eye which can contain up to 60 times more vitamin C than our blood.  Damaged lenses appear to have a much lower amount of vitamin C which indicates that there is not sufficient to protect the lens from the effects of free radicals or support the enzymes in the lens that normally removed damaged cells.

Research is ongoing with Vitamin C and certainly in the fight against cancer there are some interesting developments.  As usual I will be covering the latest medical research of our featured vitamin and mineral.

Vitamin C works as part of a team helping in various metabolic processes such as the absorption of iron, converting folic acid to an active state, protecting against the effects of toxic effects of cadmium, copper, cobalt and mercury (brain health).

One word of warning if you are on the contraceptive pill. Vitamin C in large supplemental doses can interfere with the absorption of the pill and reduce its effectiveness.

QUESTION – WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF DEFICIENCY OF VITAMIN C.

A total deficiency is extremely rare in the western World.  A total lack of the vitamin leads to scurvy, which was responsible for thousands of deaths at sea from the middle ages well into the 19th century.  Some voyages to the pacific resulted in a loss of as much as 75% of the crew.  The symptoms were due to the degeneration of collagen that lead to broken blood vessels, bleeding gums, loose teeth, joint pains and dry scaly skin Other symptoms were weakness, fluid retention, depression and anaemia.  You can link these symptoms back up to the benefits of vitamin C and understand how many parts and processes of the body this vitamin is involved in.

In a milder form a deficiency has also been linked to increased infections, male infertility, rheumatoid arthritis and gastrointestinal disorders.

Best Food Sources.

fruit and veg banner

The best food source of vitamin C is all fresh, raw fruit and vegetables.  Avoid buying prepared peeled and cut vegetables and fruit, as they will have lost the majority of their vitamin C.  If you prepare juices at home, always drink within a few hours preferably immediately.  Do not boil fruit and vegetables, it is better to eat raw whenever possible preserving all their nutrient content, but at the very least only steam lightly.

Researchers believe that taking in adequate amounts of Vitamin C is the best private health insurance that you can take out.

The best food sources is of course fresh fruit and vegetables but the highest concentrations are in Blackcurrants, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cherries, grapefruit, guavas, kiwi fruit, lemons, oranges parsley, peppers, rosehip, potatoes, tomatoes and watercress.

I hope that you have found this useful and please feel free to share… thanks for dropping by.. Sally

Vitamin of the Week – B2 – Riboflavin – with some healthy controvesy!


 smorgasbord health

Welcome to the start of this week’s health posts and whilst I am going to cover one of the essential B vitamins today; B2 – Riboflavin, I am also going to be stirring things up a bit with some controvesy.  I do not care what dietary stance that you have as long as you follow it fully informed. Over the last twenty years I have worked with many people whose health has been compromised, sometimes seriously by following the latest food trend. The worst being the complete withdrawal of one of the main food groups that has sustained and developed the human body over hundreds of thousands of years.

There is a new theory and ‘expert’ opinion every decade and I consider this to be highly dangerous to health. Second guessing nature never ends well and that includes modifying the foods that we eat, removing nutritious natural foods from our diet, and mass farming of animals to produce the cheapest possible foods possible. I would rather do without my flat screen television, smart phone or other ‘must haves’ than compromise on food quality.

Later on in the post you will find some other views on the subject but in the meantime here is one vitamin that plays a vital role in our health.

Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin

Like the other B vitamins, B2 plays an important role in energy production by ensuring the efficient metabolism of the food that we eat in the form of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It plays a key role in our nutritional processes such as its help in processing amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, which is the substance that we are made of. Twenty amino acids are needed to build the various different proteins used in the growth, repair and maintenance of our body tissues and whilst eleven of these are made by the body itself, the others must be obtained from our diet and processed by other agents including B2.

Energy

Vitamin B2 is a vitamin that is essential for metabolising carbohydrates to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate) without which we would be totally lacking in energy. It also works with enzymes in the liver to eliminate toxins, which helps keep us clear of infection.

Pre-Natal health

B2 is needed to change B6 and Folic Acid into an active and usable form so that our nervous system is protected. Folic acid is essential for healthy cell division and is needed before and during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy to help prevent birth defects. B2 is also part of the process that changes tryptophan, so important to our mental wellbeing, into niacin.

Blood Health

Research into anaemia has highlighted the role of B2 in the body’s inability to manufacture red blood cells. There are two areas that would appear to be particularly critical. One is the vitamin’s role in mobilising iron from storage to the cells and secondly that a deficiency prevents the efficient absorption of iron. (I will be doing a post on Anaemia later in the week)

Antioxidant efficiency

Our bodies have an extremely complex chemical operating system and it is synergistic. It is rare for one of the chemical components to work in isolation and it usually requires a reaction to occur to achieve a function. For example B2 is needed to recycle the vital antioxidant Glutathione in its oxidised state (after it has done its job to detoxify the unstable free radicals) into reduced Glutathione so it can go back and do the job again.

Other areas where B2 is essential.

Without sufficient B2 we would not have healthy skin, nails and hair and our thyroid function can be compromised

B2 works in conjunction with B1, B3 and B6 and as a supplement is more usually taken as part of a B complex. Incidences of deficiency are low but are more prevalent in alcoholics and has been found in people suffering from cataracts or sickle cell anaemia. It is more likely to be a problem in developing countries where there has been some link to preeclampsia in pregnant women.

Sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome, the main symptom being lack of energy, are often deficient in the B vitamins and again B2 would be included as part of a B-complex supplement.

Other areas where eating foods rich in B2 may be helpful are with migraines, headaches, cataracts, rheumatoid arthritis, anaemia and also skin conditions such as acne.

The vitamin is water-soluble and cannot be stored in the body except in very small amounts so needs to be replenished from diet every day.

Dairy products are one of the main sources of Vitamin B2.

cheese

You will see a number of articles on the toxic components in milk products in comparison to prepared soy, nut and other milks touted as the healthier option. Man has been drinking the milk of sheep, goats and cows for many thousands of years and you can be sure they got more than milk when they did, including the bacteria from their own unwashed hands as they milked the animal. My stand on dairy products is you get what you pay for and if you insist on buying the cheapest possible milk and other dairy products you are encouraging the practice of mass farming. I like my milk to come from cows that live an outdoor life, eat grass and line-up of their own accord when it is time to hit the milking parlour.

Having said that in most of our countries there are vigorous testing and processing stages in place to minimise the toxic content of what we eat and drink. I am not naive and know that the various sectors of the food industry will spin whatever story is necessary to get us to buy their product in favour of a competitor; but being an informed consumer means doing your own research. Here is an article on milk you might like to read and then one on the promoted health benefits of drinking the alternatives. If I was to use an alternative it would not be soy-milk but rice milk. The only proviso with rice milk is if you are diabetic or at risk of diabetes and you can find out more in the link.

https://cawelfare.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/myth-buster-theres-pus-in-the-milk-no-not-really/

http://authoritynutrition.com/is-soy-bad-for-you-or-good/

http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/pros-and-cons-of-rice-milk.html

Offal meats.

Over the last twenty years there has been a move away from the offal meats that used to be so popular such as liver and kidney. Again I prefer to buy organic and we certainly eat from time to time. The main issue with liver is that it is both the waste organ of an animal and also the body’s storage facility which makes it a strong tasting meat as well as making it unpopular with many who feel it is gross to eat organ meat. Here is an informative article from Dr. Mercola. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/30/eating-organ-meats.aspx

It is a rich source of B Vitamins and if you do eat meat then I recommend that you go to a butcher that sells organic organ meats or a farm shop and buy from that source.

eggs

Eggs

This is another rich B vitamin food source that has suffered in recent years from bad press. At various times eggs have been blamed for increased cholesterol, salmonella and other diseases. The cholesterol theory has been debunked and with the screening now available within the high end of  the egg industry; it is rare to find infected eggs.

It is also to remember that if you have a strong immune system, promoted by a healthy diet your body is designed to deal with a level of toxins in our food very effectively. It is only the very young and elderly, or those who have compromised immune systems that are at risk.

Again I am against factory farming particular of chickens to I am very happy to pay more for this highly nutritious food. It is a powerhouse and contains healthy amounts of not only B vitamins but also protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Selenium and phosphorus. I eat one a day and as an alternative to meat and fish regularly during the week.

Wholegrain Rice.

wholegrains

This is another of my daily foods and whilst it is again a trend to exclude all grains from the diet I strongly disagree. I cannot tolerate white, packaged bread that has been industrially produced. Not because it has the natural wheat included but because it does not. It has a heavily refined white flour that has been added to by various chemically enhanced additives and sugar. If I eat fresh home-baked soda bread made with wholegrain flour or even the supermarket bakery baguettes; I don’t have a problem.

The same with rice. I would not touch refined cheap white rice as it has lost all its nutrients in the processing and some have even been added back artificially to give it a ‘healthy’ appeal. We use Basmati wholegrain rice which is a slow burning fuel, low on the Glycemic Index and full of nutrition including the B vitamins. If you would like to know more about the Glycemic index of foods here is the link from last week. https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2016/01/26/350million-diabetics-worldwide-and-millions-more-at-risk-pre-diabetes/

Vegetarian options.

You can get B vitamins from vegetarian sources and in particular dark green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. You can include Soybeans but again I would pay extra and buy guaranteed non-genetically modified products. Also good amounts in asparagus, mushrooms and almonds.

Chopping and cooking can destroy over 75% of the vitamin content of green vegetables. Step one is not to buy fresh greens that have been pre-cut and packaged. They might be more convenient but by the time it gets to your pot after several days it will have lost at least 50% of its nutritional content. Then if you overcook much of the rest will disappear into the water.

Buy the vegetables whole, eat raw or steam. Buying good quality frozen vegetables is another alternative but again most have been chopped before freezing.

Coming up this week.. Anaemia and how to ensure you are not at risk.

You will find the previous posts on the nutrients we need to be healthy in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/vitamins-and-minerals-of-the-week/

New Series – The Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Herbal Medicine -Dandelion


I was going to call this the Witch’s Medicine Cabinet as at some points of my career I have been labelled as such. Once in Ireland a male client arrived in need of a complete lifestyle makeover prior to a heart operation. I asked him how he had heard of me and he ruefully responded…. ‘My doctor told me to get myself down to the witch at the dietary clinic and get some weight off before the operation.. he also told me not to say he recommended you!’ 

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

I have met many therapists over the years and the vast majority are professional, learned and dedicated men and women. Of course there are some who are in it for the money and are not worthy of the long and honourable tradition of healing. But you only have to read the headlines on both sides of the ocean to discover that doctors and other medical practitioners are not all they should be either!

Conservative estimates in the UK are that 12,000 plus patients die each year because of basic errors in their medical care. There are studies that put those impacted by bad diagnosis, incorrect prescribing of drugs and the side effects of those drugs on patients as several times that number.  I think it is telling that the NHS has a budget of over £15billion to pay negligence claims and to support patients effected for their lifetimes.

There have been some cases of bad reactions to a herbal remedy but I have seen more headlines about peanut, hair dye allergies and other reactions than I have serious side effects from using high quality tinctures.

Which brings me to a commonsense warning about herbal medicines.

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

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

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

Having established that; I want to introduce you to herbs that can be taken as a prepared tincture but also those that you can include in your diet to improve and to maintain your health.

I am kicking off the series with Dandelion..

dandelion

Dandelion Herbal remedy and food.

This herb has been used medicinally, over the centuries, for a number of conditions that relate to the health of the blood. This includes anaemia, cholesterol problems, circulatory problems and diabetes. Additionally, it is a common component of detox complexes due to its diuretic properties and to help clear chest congestion, jaundice, rheumatic pain, gout, gallstones and insomnia.

It is an all-rounder and has enjoyed many different names in folklore. We know it most commonly as the Dandelion and are used to seeing its yellow flowers in the hedges and fields in the early summer. As children, most of us would have tried to tell the time by blowing on the puff-ball of seeds it produces in the autumn.

Its botanical name is Taraxacum officinalis and the name dandelion comes from the French dent de lion or lion’s teeth, a description of the distinctive serrated leaves of the herb. In Tudor times its diuretic properties were well known and it was given the more apt name of piss-in-the-bed. There were a number of superstitions surrounding the plant including its ability to foretell the number of years before a girl married and apparently if you saw the seeds being dispersed by the wind from the puff-ball rain was imminent. We have evidence that it was used medicinally since around 650 AD by the Chinese and it first appeared in European apothecaries in the late 15th century.

Apart from being used as a medicine, blanched dandelion leaves can be used in salads or prepared in the same way as spinach and dried leaves have been used for many years to make beer. A word of warning before you dash off and include as a speciality dish for your next dinner party, it can cause wind problems – as it is not digested or processed until it reaches the intestines.

Today, dandelion is mainly used as a diuretic. Most chemical diuretics cause a loss of potassium but this is not the case when using dandelion. As potassium is vital for correct fluid balance in the body, taking dandelion is a safer way to reduce any excessive water retention. However, taking any diuretic to remove excess fluid should always be done with caution. Fluid is essential to life and if you force your body to excrete fluids on a continuous basis you will be losing critical minerals and salt too. Only use occasionally and if your water retention persists then do consult your GP as it could be the result of an underlying systemic problem.

The roots of the dandelion have traditionally been used in liver tonics. They are rich in Choline a B vitamin that prevents fat from being trapped in the liver. When the liver is blocked with fat, metabolism is affected and can lead to liver disease and elevated cholesterol levels.

Gallstones tend to be formed if the gall bladder does not completely empty of the bile it has produced. Dandelion improves both the production and the delivery of the bile and can be used as a preventative for people prone to this problem.

The herb also contains inulin which is a naturally occurring oligosaccharide (simple sugars linked together). Inulin is indigestible by enzymes that normally metabolise starch so it is not broken down into simple sugars (monosaccharides) that can cause fluctuating blood sugar levels. It has been used by diabetics to help regulate their blood sugar levels but should always be used under medical supervision. If you are losing weight, however, it will help reduce your sugar cravings in the first few weeks until your body has adjusted to a lower sugar intake. Quite frankly the taste will do that for you anyway!

If you are overweight dandelion will help re-balance the fluids in your body and get rid of excess amounts initially. One of the other problems associated with obesity is inefficient fat metabolism and as bile is essential for this process increasing its production will also contribute to a healthy weight loss.

If you suffer from a bacteria and flora imbalance in the intestines, such as an overgrowth of Candida Albicans, eating dandelion leaves can help. The herb is a very efficient prebiotic which stimulates the growth of healthy, probiotic bacteria in the gut. Other probiotic formulas in yoghurt and milk are subject to various chemical processes on their way to the intestines before they can be effective. The dandelion is indigestible until it reaches the gut so is a much more potent source of friendly bacteria.

You can pick dandelions from the hedgerows and use as a food or buy an herbal tincture from a health food shop. There are a couple of restrictions. If you are currently taking prescribed medication such as diuretics, insulin or anti-coagulants you should not take without medical supervision as it may affect the potency of your drugs. Similarly, if you have already suffered from gallstones or a liver condition such as jaundice or hepatitis then you should take advice before using.

cool pictures

 DANDELION AS A FOOD.

As a food dandelion offers a great nutritional package – Vitamins: A, folate, B6, C, E, and K. Minerals: Magnesium, copper, phosphorus, calcium, iron, potassium and manganese. Dandelion leaves picked from the hedgerow can be used as salad leaves but always remove the woody stems and wash very well. Apart from additional protein in the form of bugs, dogs for some reason love peeing on them! Apart from salads, you can throw into a soup pot with a vegetables and then blend for a lovely creamy soup. Cook like spinach and eat with rich meat dishes. Use raw in sandwiches with egg or avocado. Some hardy souls have ground the dried roots into a substitute coffee, but do not expect to see in Starbucks anytime soon! It does however; make a good tea although I tend to get from the health food shops as they usually have a high quality selection.

As a little word of warning – I suggest that you use the tincture and tea earlier in the day and also the leaves with lunch as there is a good reason that in medieval times it was called piss-in-the-bed!

I hope you will enjoy this new series and next time my November essential Echinacia.

Please leave your feedback and hit a few share buttons.

Thank you – Sally the Witch!

Size Matters – Chapter Ten – Avoiding Nutritional Deficiency.


I often use the term ‘Nutritional Deficiency Syndrome’ to describe what I believe is the root cause of the majority of illnesses.  I also call those diseases ‘Lifestyle Induced’.

It is in our own hands to make a difference and I know that making changes looks like it will be a costly or time consuming option, but really it is not.

For example, just simply adding sweet potato into your diet three or four times a week can reverse eye-damaging Vitamin A deficiency in a relatively short space of time. Tasty, can be cooked in one 20 minute session and stored in the fridge.

I do take some supplements, particularly those that are manufactured by the body but in decreasing quantities as we get older. Also I do not do winter very well and whilst I have enjoyed getting my Vitamin D from sunshine for the last 8 months, I now am taking some Vitamin D in spray form along with other nutrients needed to enable it to be absorbed such as calcium.

I will up my foods that supply those particular nutrients in the coming months and we are now eating our winter diet of brightly coloured root vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes, broccoli and other green leafed vegetables such as kale, and canned fish such as sardines and salmon.

In Chapter Ten of Size Matters I am giving you a brief overview of some of the symptoms associated with a vitamin or mineral deficiency. Not overly common in our westernised cultures but with the increased emphasis on dieting and the use of packaged foods we are all at risk.

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Size Matters – Chapter Ten -Avoiding Nutritional Deficiency

I believe that we should be obtaining the majority of our nutrients from the food that we eat. However, if you have been poorly nourished for an extended period of time both as a serial dieter or because you have had a nutrient-sterile food intake, I suggest that you do consider taking a supplement.

I have come to the conclusion after several years that tablets do not necessarily offer the best option for me. I appear to obtain the most benefit from liquid supplementation and so I take Aloe Vera gel in drink form and I also have a green smoothie for breakfast with a number of nutrient-dense ingredients like wheat grass and flaxseeds.

If we were in my health food shop that I owned I would take down your personal and health history and then recommend a specific regimen for you. As we cannot do that I suggest that you go to a recognised nutritional therapist or a high standard health food shop and ask for expert advice.

In the following pages I have listed the major vitamins and minerals that are needed for general good health. The best way to get these vitamins and minerals is to eat the foods that contain them, so it is worth noting which foods will provide you with these nutrients and then including them in your program to ensure a healthy, balanced diet.

If you need more detail on the general properties of vitamins and minerals you can get this from a post in my nutritional directory or from a good quality high street health food shop.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/nutrient-directory-a-brief-overview-of-the-nutrients-we-need-and-the-foods-that-supply-them/

One important reason to focus on vitamins and minerals is that you need to understand exactly what affects you can expect from a consistently poor diet. Most vitamin and mineral deficiency problems are cumulative over a long period of time.

If you deprive your cells of the nutrients they need for their health, they will degenerate and begin to fail. It is not my intention to frighten anyone into taking supplements, but you must make sure that you have a varied and healthy diet so that you absorb adequate levels of each vitamin and mineral.

It is unlikely that you will be suffering from deficiencies of any of the major vitamins if you have a healthy diet. Unfortunately, if you have been a ‘yo-yo’ dieter for most of your adult life, you will have suffered a reduced intake of these nutrients for extended periods of time.

The other worrying aspect of over-farming in certain areas is that the soil is becoming nutritionally deplete. This means that the vegetables that look bright green or orange are not as nutritious as they were 20 or 30 years ago. For this reason I eat at least 8 portions of vegetables and some fruits a day, not the recommended five.

A deficiency can be rectified by changing to a healthy eating program and where appropriate including a nutrient dense supplement in your diet. Take note of the following effects of vitamin deficiencies, so that you understand the impact that restrictive diets, or prolonged starvation, can have.

Bear in mind that this is a very brief overview to give you an idea of how a deficiency of even one major nutrient can affect your health. This is an important part of taking back control of your weight and health and I urge you to find out more.

root vegetables

Vitamins

Vitamin A
A deficiency of Vitamin A can lead to various physical changes in the eyes and eventually to blindness. A marginal Vitamin A deficiency will contribute to increased susceptibility to respiratory tract infections and skin problems, dry hair or loss of hair, and weight loss.

A deficiency of this vitamin is generally unlikely in the western world, unless you have a very poor diet or abstain from any animal products or follow an extremely low-fat diet.

Vitamin A can be found in: halibut and cod-liver oil, lamb’s liver, fish oils, apricots, full-fat dairy products, eggs, yellow and orange vegetables, green vegetables and tomatoes.

Beta-carotene
A deficiency of beta-carotene would show symptoms similar to a deficiency of vitamin A.

The best food sources are: carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, dried apricots and watercress.

B vitamins
The group of B vitamins is wide-ranging, with different functions relating to the central nervous system and connective tissue. Vegetarians and Vegans may be susceptible to deficiency and need to take supplements to ensure that they get adequate levels of this group of vitamins.

(B1) Thiamin
A minor lack of B1 can cause depression, irritability and lack of concentration. A major deficiency is rare in western culture but can result in beriberi (muscle weakness, nausea, loss of appetite and water retention).

The best foods for B1 are: yeast extract, fortified breakfast cereals, soya beans, pork chops, brown rice, seafood, liver, nuts, poultry, potatoes and milk.

(B2) Riboflavin
A lack of this vitamin will lead to oral complaints such as sore and even burning lips and tongue. The eyes can also be affected with burning, itchiness and visual fatigue. Other symptoms are hair loss, insomnia and trembling.

The best sources for B2 are: yeast extract, lamb’s liver, pig’s kidney, cereal, wheat-germ, cheese, eggs, green vegetables, beans and peas.

(B3) Niacin or Nicotinic acid
Insufficient B3 can lead to tiredness, depression, loss of memory, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhoea and headaches.

Rich sources of this vitamin are: tuna, chicken’s liver, chicken meat, wheat-germ, brown rice, peanuts, brewer’s yeast, eggs, fish and dried fruit.

(B5) Pantothenic acid
A deficiency of B5 can lead to fatigue, headaches, dizziness, muscle weakness and gastro-intestinal upsets.

The best foods to eat are: brewer’s yeast, pig’s liver, yeast extract, nuts, wheat bran, wheat-germ, beans, split peas, oranges and egg yolk.

(B6) Pyridoxine
B6 deficiency can lead to recurrent infections or extreme cases of premenstrual tension (PMS). You need to have a diet rich in the following: green vegetables, brewer’s yeast, yeast extract, fish, prunes, raisins, soya beans, flour, whole-grain cereals, milk, wheat-germ, bananas and chicken.

(B9) Folic acid
B9 has had quite a lot of publicity in recent years. A deficiency of B9 in the diet can lead to megaloblastic anaemia, usually in the elderly. Also poor growth in babies and children. A deficiency in pregnancy may lead to foetal problems such as spina-bifida.

Foods that contain B9 are: liver, kidney, most meat, green vegetables, brewer’s yeast, yeast extract, wheat-germ and beans.

(B12)
Deficiency of B12 can produce conditions such as pernicious anaemia, loss of appetite, fatigue. A severe deficiency can lead to degeneration of the nervous system, causing mobility and speaking difficulties.

The best sources of Vitamin B12 are: eggs, milk, cheese, milk products, meat, fish, shellfish and poultry.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C deficiency can cause scurvy, lowered immunity, bleeding or soft gums, loose teeth, tender joints, muscle degeneration, irritability and anaemia.

It is easily absorbed from raw fruit and vegetables, citrus fruits and juices, mango, rose hip, chillies and peppers.

Vitamin D
A vitamin D deficiency is rare these days. It used to cause rickets in young children and is linked to osteoporosis, dental cavities and cramping muscles.

Vitamin D is absorbed from sunlight through the skin. It is also obtained from: liver, oily fish, egg yolk, full-fat dairy products.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E deficiency is linked to fat absorption problems, causing dull hair, muscle weakness, possible prostate gland enlargement, and even miscarriages.

Vitamin E is found in most foods, but mainly vegetable oils, egg yolks, whole-grain cereals, wheat-germ, green vegetables, nuts, seeds and margarine.

Vitamin K1
The last major vitamin is vitamin K. A deficiency in this vitamin is rare but can be caused by the long-term use of antibiotics, resulting in bleeding below the skin, nosebleeds and diarrhoea.

This vitamin is mainly found in green vegetables, seaweed (kelp), liver, potatoes and wheat-germ.

dairy

Minerals
Minerals are as important as vitamins and they often work together to enhance each other’s performance. For instance, calcium and vitamin D are better taken together to enable absorption of the calcium. I have listed the most common minerals that should be included in every healthy diet.

Calcium
Deficiency symptoms can range from rickets to osteomalacia, the equivalent of rickets in adults. In women, a cumulative deficiency from puberty can lead to premenstrual syndrome and osteoporosis.

Calcium is found in dairy products, hard tap-water, fish (especially sardines and pilchards), watercress, fortified cereals and wholegrain flour products.

Iron
A lack of Iron can cause anaemia and, in extreme cases, the suppression of the immune system resulting in frequent infections.

Iron is found in red meat, kidney, liver, pulses, dried apricots and figs, cocoa, fortified flour products, cereals and nuts (especially almonds and walnuts).

Magnesium
A deficiency of Magnesium can result in muscle cramps, low blood sugar, anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea and weakness. It can also cause premenstrual tension and occasionally hypoglycaemia. Magnesium can also be a powerful remedy for PMS if taken in conjunction with calcium.

Magnesium can be found in peanuts, wholemeal bread, dairy products, eggs, pulses, shellfish, potatoes, white fish and chicken.

One thing to be aware of when taking magnesium as a supplement is that it may interfere with the function of tetracycline antibiotics, so they should always be taken several hours apart.

Potassium
Lack of Potassium can lead to vomiting, abdominal distension, muscular weakness, paralysis, pins and needles, loss of appetite, low blood pressure, thirst and, in extreme cases, drowsiness and coma.

Potassium is found in most foods, but in particular, in fresh fruit, vegetables (including potatoes), meat, wholemeal flour, cereals, milk, coffee, tea and salt substitutes.

Sodium
A lack of Sodium may result in dehydration, which causes low blood pressure.

The most common sources of sodium are: salt, baking powder, cured meats, smoked fish, tinned meats and bakery products. Most processed foods contain an element of sodium. Bear in mind that too much sodium results in high blood pressure which can be very dangerous.

Chromium
This is a mineral which plays an important role in maintaining our blood sugar levels. It is rare to have an extreme deficiency, but a lack of chromium can cause irritability, confusion, weakness and depression. A lack of this mineral has also been linked to sugar cravings or a ‘sweet tooth’ attributable to fluctuating blood sugar levels. The most common foods containing chromium are whole-grain flour, cereals and fresh fruits, nuts, liver, kidney and beef.

Iodine
Iodine levels affect our metabolism. A lack can lead to drowsiness, lethargy, fatigue and increased weight.

You will find the most useful sources are iodised table salt, seafood, kelp, meat, fruit and vegetables.

Selenium
A selenium deficiency has been linked to cardiovascular disease and some types of anaemia. It is more effective when taken with vitamin E.

Food sources are kidney and liver, fish and shellfish, meat, whole grains and cereals, dairy products, fruit and vegetables.

Zinc
Last but not least is zinc. People who suffer from frequent infections, delayed wound healing, reduced appetite, decreased sense of smell or taste, skin disorders and white marks on their nails may have a zinc deficiency.

Because it is mainly found in meats, eggs and dairy produce, people on a restricted vegan diet may suffer from a lack of this mineral. It is important to eat whole-grain flour products, cereals and, if possible, seafood.

As you can see from this list, a widely varied diet will ensure that you receive the full spectrum of nutrients your body needs. If you have a heavy exercise schedule or are recovering from an illness, you may require additional help in the form of a high potency vitamin and mineral supplement. Always choose a good-quality supplement that is suited to your age and lifestyle. A pharmacist or staff in a health food shop will be happy to tell you about the choices that are available.

You can find the other nine chapters in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/size-matters-serialisation/

©sallygeorginacronin 2001 – 2015 Size Matters and Just food for Health.

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thanks Sally