Smorgasbord Health Column – Nutrients the body needs – Manganese – Asthma, Diabetes, Heart disease, Osteoporosis, mental health.

Manganese is a macro mineral or trace element that is essential for the normal formation of bone and cartilage. It is also necessary for efficient metabolism of glucose and forms part of the antioxidant superoxide dismutase.

Unfortunately only about 5% of dietary manganese is absorbed which means that adequate amounts need to be taken in on a daily basis in our food.

Thyroid function

It is involved in a number of production processes including energy production, healthy joints, immune system function, sex hormones and thyroxine one of the hormones produced by the thyroid gland. Without thyroxine our metabolism would be inefficient and there would be an effect on every aspect of our health.

There are certain diseases where tests have shown the patients have been deficient in manganese and these include:

  • diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • heart disease
  • atherosclerosis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • mental conditions such as schizophrenia.

What is the role of manganese in bone health?

normal-bone-micrographWe tend to think of calcium and magnesium being the major bone minerals but in fact manganese and one of the main nutrients in Spinach, Vitamin K are also absolutely essential to ensure healthy bones.

Bone is not a solid substance. It is a living and changing tissue that not only provides the structural framework for our bodies but also is used to protect major organs such as the brain, spinal cord and the nursery for blood vessels.

We have all made plaster or papier-mâché; sculptures at school and would have begun with a framework and some form of mesh, usually made from chicken wire. In the body this mesh is called the osteoid and is made up of protein, collagen, elastin and Glucosamine polymers.

New bone is being produced all the time, particularly if there are breaks or wear and tear, so this mesh requires certain nutrients in our diet all the time including Vitamin C for collagen and B6, copper and zinc.

The Glucosamine polymers also contain manganese and to effectively combine all these components you need Vitamin K.

Once the network is in place calcium and magnesium have a framework that they can attach themselves to and bone is formed.

What other roles does manganese play in the body?

The body’s operating systems have a workforce made up of enzymes. Enzymes are protein based molecules that speed up all the chemical processes in the body or act as a catalyst for a particular function. For example without enzymes, digestion of food would not happen and we would be starved of the nutrients we need to survive. Without enzymes we could not live.

Manganese plays a role in most major enzyme activities in the body by activating certain nutrients necessary to the process such as biotin (manufacture of glycogen and prostaglandins in the immune system), thiamin, Vitamin C (immune system) and Choline (essential neurotransmitter in the brain). It is also involved in the synthesis or fatty acids and cholesterol, is involved in the processing of protein and carbohydrates and also in the manufacture of some hormones.

Therefore manganese helps maintain normal blood sugar levels, thyroid function, cholesterol levels, a healthy nervous system and acts as an antioxidant.

What are the symptoms of a manganese deficiency?

If someone is suffering from pre-diabetes and has elevated blood sugar levels they are likely to be deficient in manganese in their diet. In extreme cases they may suffer from nausea and vomiting, skin rashes, dizziness and hearing loss. It is internally however that the real damage may be occurring and that is in extensive bone loss that might only be identified in late middle age.

Despite manganese not often appearing in a starring role in nutritional information; it is involved in the treatment or prevention of a number of conditions including asthma.

Coming up next week.. Manganese and Asthma in more detail.

Food sources for manganese

cannelinni beansThankfully there are plenty of delicious food sources for this mineral and they should all be included regularly in the healthy eating plan. A really good source for nutrients and protein are beans and I will also feature a post on those later in the week including how to prepare ‘wind free’ recipes!

Other foods that contain good amounts of manganese include spinach, brown rice, tomatoes and walnuts.

wholegrainsIt is important to include asparagus, pineapples, wholegrains, porridge oats, dark green leafy vegetables, raspberries and strawberries regularly. If you cook with herbs and spices basil, cloves, cinnamon, thyme, black pepper and oregano; they too will add manganese to your diet.

If you are including the above foods regularly during the week there should be no reason to experience a deficiency. Take a look at a week’s food diary and check them off and if necessary make some adjustments to ensure you are getting sufficient.

© Just Food for Health  Sally Cronin 1998 – 2018

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

And Amazon UK:

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4:

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 I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Health – A – Z of Common Conditions – Asthma

smorgasbord A - Z

What is asthma?

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

Swollen Bronchii

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

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

What causes asthma?

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

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

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

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

What are the most common asthma triggers?

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

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

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

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

What about non-allergic asthma?

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

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

When is an attack likely to take place?

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

What are the common symptoms of an asthma attack?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How can an attack be prevented?

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

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

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

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

What about food triggers for asthma?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Smorgasbord Health – The Lungs – Part Four – Pneumonia – the most common cause of death of children worldwide!

As part of the series on essential minerals I covered the subject of Asthma recently so won’t include in this series on the lungs.  But if you are interested in reading more about this particular respiratory disease then you can find the details in this post. Asthma

According to the world health organisation Pneumonia is the leading course of death in children. That surprised me too. I know that it the most common cause of death written on a death certificate for the elderly, and it is because these are the two most vulnerable groups in our society wherever we live.


In the post on asthma, I looked at some common allergic reasons for this condition and now I am going to look at pneumonia which is an inflammation or infection of the lungs most commonly caused by a bacteria or virus.

The origin of the word pneumonia is from the Greek pneuma – meaning air, and pneumon, – meaning lung, with pneumonia meaning inflammation of the lung.

There are approximately 30 causes of pneumonia and before the use of antibiotics over a third of the victims of this disease died. Today it tends to be young children, the elderly, or people with existing debilitating conditions, who are likely to contract pneumonia.

What are the most common types of pneumonia?

There are two categories of pneumonia that all types fall into. One is infective pneumonia and the other is aspiration pneumonia.

Infective pneumonia is when the bronchial tubes and lungs become infected and inflamed by either bacteria or a virus that has entered the lungs and reproduced.

Streptococcus pneumoniae

Bacterial pneumonia

Bacteria are not choosy and anyone can become infected. The most common culprit is Streptococcus pneumoniae or Pneumococcus (pictured above). In these cases one or other of the lobes of the lung are affected. The onset of this form of pneumonia is very rapid with high fever and breathing difficulties within the first few hours and with the very young and the elderly seeking medical help immediately is vital as their immune systems are unable to cope with the ferocity of the infection.

There are are further complications with this specific bacteria as it can affect other parts of the body such as the brain where it becomes meningitis. This diagnosis is a parent’s worst nightmare and this is why understanding the symptoms early can be so important. The bacteria is easily transportable in the bloodstream to all parts of the body, so if not treated can lead to a serious strain on the immune system. Bacterial pneumonia normally responds to a strong dose of antibiotics but as with many diseases today some of the bacteria responsible for pneumonia have become resistant to those currently in use.

Viral pneumonia

Viral pneumonia is the most common form of the disease, although it does not always have the worst symptoms. It quite commonly follows another upper respiratory disease – when viruses coughed out of the lungs get inhaled back into the air sacs to begin another infection. The onset is usually less rapid than the bacterial form of the disease, beginning with a persistent cough, high fever and possibly nausea. The usual treatment unless the problem is very severe is patience whilst the infection runs its course. This is where eating a diet rich in anti-oxidants and plenty of fluids will help to build up the immune system and support the body whilst it recovers.

Aspiration pneumonia

Aspiration pneumonia is any condition where a foreign substance such as vomit, mucous or other fluids such as saliva have been inhaled into the lungs. This obviously applies to external contaminants such as chemicals. This can effect young babies who tend to lie on their backs and have not mastered the swallow reflex. Also, toddlers, who play with miniature toys, or sweets, are also at risk and there have been cases where the epiglottis has failed to block their entry into the lungs leading to inflammation and infection. The elderly also are at risk through ill fitting dentures and poor dental health that minimises the amount of chewing of the food in the first place. Because all of the body is working less efficiently, particles of food can be inhaled into the lungs causing an infection.

A chemical inhalant can be extremely damaging in the long term. Apart from the normal inflammation of the alveoli, at the tips of the bronchial tubes, the acidity and reaction of the chemical can also do extensive damage to the lung tissue resulting in permanent damage.

How can you avoid contracting pneumonia?

It is important to boost your immune system to prevent infections, particularly if you are going to be admitted to hospital for an invasive operation. Despite their life-saving capabilities, hospitals are also a thriving incubator for infection and unfortunately most people who are rushed in for an emergency may not be in the best of health.

To me, this is one of the most compelling reasons to eat a healthy diet. It is a form of insurance that should be taken out along with car, house and possibly private health insurance. Many people only begin to eat healthily after the event, when they have been scared into it by a heart attack or a run in with a vicious infection.

The majority of people suffer first and foremost from a repressed immune system, which is why they keep getting repeated infections such as colds. After a relatively short period of time the body becomes more and more vulnerable to more aggressive infections such as pneumonia.

Ensure you are following at least a basic healthy eating plan which should include lots of brightly coloured fruits, such as oranges and apples, and vegetables – particularly dark green leafy kinds such as spinach and broccoli. Do not starve yourself and ensure plenty of variety so that you get the widest possible spread of nutrients. Cook from Scratch is a habit that we should all get into for life. The effect of processed foods on our immune system is long lasting and particularly for the young who are likely to see the results of our modern diet earlier and earlier in their lives.

One of the major problems with the elderly is their lack of appetite, which needs to be stimulated with tasty snacks 5 or 6 times a day, and nutrient dense foods such as bananas, rich vegetable soups, pureed vegetables that are easy to absorb and eggs are perfect for this as you can eat slightly less whilst still getting the nutrients. Soft fruits and vegetable juices are perfect, as they are concentrated and easy to digest.

For children who are picky and will not eat their fruit and vegetables you can make smoothies with vegetables and fruit and pureed soups that hide the fact they are eating Brussel sprouts.

What else should you do to avoid contagion?

  • · One of the easiest precautions that you can take to avoid getting a cold or flu that might turn into pneumonia is to wash your hands thoroughly before eating and after contact with other people. Hot water and soap is usually sufficient although there are a number of antibacterial products on the market.
  • · If you have a cold, or flu, use tissues rather than hankies and always throw them away when you have used once. Not very cost effective but it prevents you re-infecting your nasal passages with the bacteria or flu when you blow your nose repeatedly.
  • · If you have a cold, or a person you know has one, then avoid kissing them or touching them with your hands unless you can wash them straight away. It is so easy to touch your mouth and nose and infect yourself within minutes.
  • · If you are a smoker or are in close proximity to one you will find that the alveoli in your lungs are already damaged and therefore susceptible to inflammation and infection. There is only one thing for this and that is to stop smoking and stub out the cigarette of anyone else in your vicinity.
  • · If you are using strong cleaning products always open a window and if possible use a mask. This obviously applies in a work situation where health and safety regulations should be observed stringently. Those of us who colour our own hair should always open the nearest window for example.
  • · If you are in the garden and spraying weeds or using fertiliser do not do so on a windy day and wear a mask over mouth and nose as well as protective clothing. Always hose off boots and clothing outside.

In summary, you need to build your immune system and adopt some simple everyday hygiene standards and it will greatly reduce your risk of contracting this second stage infection.

Next time – Lung Cancer – and then diet that helps your lungs stay healthy.

©sallygeorginacronin Just Food For Health 2009

Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Peppermint for health and cooking.

indexYou may have noticed that almost all non-prescription preparations that claim to help indigestion are mint flavored. And this is not just because mint has a nice taste. Mint is one of the oldest known treatments for indigestion and its inclusion in medicines is due to the plant’s ability to settle the stomach.

Originally native to the Mediterranean region, peppermint, which is a cross between water mint and spearmint, is one of the oldest cultivated herbs and was used for culinary as well as healing purposes by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. It would seem that poor eating habits have been a problem throughout all of human history!

The ancient Romans carried it with them wherever they colonized; (presumably the relief it offered was much needed at the end of an orgy!) To this day, the Arabs brew it into tea and chop it into salads, the Asian Indians include it in chutney recipes, the British make its juice into jellies to be served with heavy meat dishes, and the Germans concoct it into schnapps as an after-dinner drink. In all these cases, the motive for including mint in the diet is to improve digestion and avoid indigestion.

As with any dark green leafy plant the peppermint offers a wide range of nutrients that make it an excellent food source. Vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, Vitamin B2, Vitamin C, manganese, folate, iron, magnesium and calcium. Unfortunately you do not normally consume a sufficient quantity to be able to classify this as a superfood. However, if you add the nutrients in the leaves to an already balanced diet, it will certainly add to the pot of essential and varied nutrients you need each day.

Peppermint improves digestion in general but is great for stomach and colon cramps as the menthol in the herb has a muscle relaxing action and IBS sufferers often find it reduces symptoms. A cup of peppermint tea after a meal is much better for your digestion than a cup of coffee.

The oil mixed with a lotion or light skin oil, rubbed on the forehead can relieve headaches and is cooling when massaged into sore muscles.

As a forerunner of our modern gum, the leaves were chewed to prevent bad breath which was essential before toothpaste and flossing. You can also put a drop on your toothbrush instead of toothpaste from time to time and it will leave your mouth feeling fresh and clean for ages.

Peppermint oil usually comes in small capsules or in a liquid tincture. The tea also comes with some variations, one of my favourites being Green Tea and Peppermint. One word of warning when using the oil. It is very strong and usually just one drop is sufficient.

Other health benefits

Studies have indicated that the oil produced from the leaves could provide protection from cancer and also inhibit the growth of certain tumours in the breasts, pancreas and liver.  I am not a keen fan of using data from animal studies since they are not as contaminated as we humans are with our modern lifestyles. But peppermint has been used for thousands of years by healers and it would not have maintained its reputation as an effective remedy if it had been a false claim.

Peppermint oil is highly antibacterial and it also inhibits the growth of other potentially dangerous bacteria such as H.Pylori (Helicobacter pylori), the bacteria that causes peptic ulcers; Salmonella, E.Coli 0157:H7 and MRSA.

If you have a cold or flu there is nothing better than a little peppermint oil sprinkled on a tissue, or rubbed on your chest, to help you breathe better.

Also rubbed into the palms of your hands before you grab the handle of the shopping trolley may help prevent you getting a cold passed on from the previous shoppers.

For asthmatics the rosmarinic acid in the oil acts as an anti-inflammatory and also encourages cells to produce substances called prostacyclins, which keep the airways open.

Using Mint in cooking.

Apart from its medicinal uses and nutritional properties, mint is a wonderful herb to use in cooking. Make a home-made sauce or jelly and enjoy two or three times a week along with a cup of peppermint tea after your dinner. It can be chopped up in salads and in soups to add a fresh flavour.

Peppermint is one of the easiest of herbs to grow either in a pot or in the garden and in fact can take over if not careful. Crush the leaves in a pestle and mortar to add flavour to savoury and sweet dishes but I like to eat mint sauce or jelly with most meats, particularly lamb.  If you are vegtarian then use mushrooms as an alternative, particularly the shitake variety which very tasty. Mix through some chopped mint leaves and it will put even more zing into the dish.

Quick Mince Sauce.

Grab a good handful of fresh mint leaves
One teaspoon of caster sugar (you can add more but I don’t like it too sweet)
Two tablespoons of red wine vinegar.
75mls of boiling water.

Finely chop the leaves of the mint. Place in a bowl and mix in the caster sugar. Pour over the boiling water to dissolve the sugar and then add the red wine vinegar. Leave to cool and marinate.

It keeps in a jar in the fridge.

You will find the first post in the series – Dandelion in the directory

©sallygeorginacronin Just Food For Health 2009

I love to receive your feedback and please feel free to share. best wishes Sally

Size Matters – Chapter Eleven – Candida Albicans and Obesity

I know that I have posted on the topic of Candida Albicans before but in the need for continuity I am including this chapter.  There are some other issues that are included that I have not mentioned before and also a recipe for Irish Soda Bread which is one of the few breads I can enjoy.

Candida Albicans and Obesity.

The more I work with clients who have weight problems the more convinced I am that Candida Albicans is the secret, hidden, enemy of us all. I believe that a very high percentage of people, some sources say in the region of 70 percent, suffer from Candida overgrowth in a chronic form. However, what most surprises me is the high incidence of Candida in sufferers of most common ailments.

When I was studying the condition in relation to my own weight 20 years ago; I noted that there were literally hundreds of symptoms. But, naturally enough, I was only really interested in my own. Now that I am helping others with their nutritional health, I am discovering that they nearly always have Candida related problems. The most common seem to be arthritis, asthma, eczema, menopausal problems, and frequent throat and ear infections.

Candida Albicans is yeast, which inhabits all humans, but usually only in small amounts. An excess of this substance is also known as Monilia, Thrush, Candidiasis and Yeast Infection. It is believed that health problems caused by an excess of Candida effect over 70 percent of people in the western world and that the symptoms are so wide-ranging that doctors rarely diagnose the problem correctly. This means that treatment of the symptoms often ignores the root of the problem.

Overuse of Antibiotics and other prescribed medication.

The main precondition for a fungal disease to get a foothold is an impaired immune system. This can be the result of an illness, the overuse of antibiotics, intensive dieting over a long period of time or recurring infections.

In most cases, antibiotics are broad-spectrum which means they are aimed at a broad range of bacteria and not one specific identified bacterium. Without a laboratory test, it is difficult to identify which specific strain of bacteria is responsible for a particular infection, so the use of broad-spectrum drugs usually guarantees that the bacteria in question will be killed off. Unfortunately, it is not only the bad bacteria that are killed off, but beneficial bacteria too.

A healthy intestine contains a balance of good and bad bacteria, two of the friendly flora, Bifidobacteria bifidum and Lactobaccillus acidophilus, normally keep the Candida in balance. However, where this fragile balance is disrupted, the gut becomes vulnerable to an overgrowth of Candida Albicans.

What happens when normal Candida levels increase.

If Candida yeast is allowed to grow unchecked, it changes from its normal yeast fungal form to a mycelial-fungal form that produces rhizoids. These long, root-like, structures are capable of piercing the walls of the digestive tract and breaking down the protective barriers between the intestine and the blood. This breakthrough allows many allergens and toxins to enter the bloodstream, causing allergic reactions. Mucus also forms around the major organs and in the lining of the stomach. This can prevent the digestive system from functioning efficiently and if food is not properly digested the nutrients are not absorbed and the body begins to suffer deficiencies, leading to chronic fatigue.

The most common of the allergic reactions seen when Candida is present are; watering or dry, itchy eyes, itchy inner ears and dry throats that clear up after a few hours without developing into a full-scale infection. These symptoms are almost always accompanied by a craving for bread, savoury snacks such as crisps or for sweets (chocolate in particular). Sometimes clients tell me that they don’t have a sweet tooth and do not eat chocolate. However, when I read their food diary, it is easy to spot the biscuits, cakes and alcohol that are eaten or drunk every day.

Other common symptoms associated with Candida are: digestive disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Flatulence, Diarrhoea, Colitis and Ulcers; disorders such as Sterility, Fibrosis, Hormonal Imbalance and PMT; Allergies, Hyperactivity, Asthma, Sinusitis, Migraines, poor memory and fluctuations in blood sugar levels.

One of the most significant problems is the strain which all the toxins place on the liver, often resulting in chronic fatigue, discomfort and depression. The list is practically endless, which generally adds to the confusion at the time of diagnosis.

It is believed that long term use of other medications including the contraceptive pill and HRT which might explain the higher incidence of Candida overgrowth in women. It should be noted that if a woman does have an overgrowth of Candida and thrush that this can be transmitted to a partner.

I have included a questionnaire, later, that I recommend everyone should complete.

I still have Candida Albicans. If I do not pay attention to my diet, it can flare up again. Itchy inner ears are the first indication that I have a problem.

The treatment is straightforward and is certainly effective. You should follow a dietary program for several weeks to eliminate as many unnecessary sugars as possible from your diet. In addition, you will find that decreasing yeast intake can help. I certainly have found that eating yeast free Irish Soda Bread rather than yeast breads has made a difference. This, combined with a simple herbal remedy, is helpful in reducing the Candida to manageable levels.

Dietary help

Candida loves sugar, yeast, starches, and foods containing moulds or fungus. The latest research is indicating that it is sugars that Candida craves. However, I do react if I eat blue cheese for example and also Marmite .It is common for the sufferer to crave chocolate and yeast extract but not necessarily together!

It used to be the practice to come off all yeast and sugars, natural or otherwise and for six weeks or so follow a very rigid diet. I do think that it is a good idea to reduce the levels of your yeast in the diet simply because it comes in combination in so many processed foods with sugar, something I consider to be the real cause behind so much of our ill health today.

Things have moved on – the fact is that most natural produce is absolutely fine to eat. This includes mushrooms which as a fungus are one of the first foods to be banned on a Candida Diet. Evidence suggests that just because Candida is a fungus it does not enjoy eating a similar organism.

The other important issue is that anyone with a strong immune system can manage an overgrowth of candida provided their diet is mainly unprocessed and sugar free.

In the last 18 years I have experimented with natural ingredients in and out of my diet and I have found no reaction to mushrooms or any other natural food on my Candida levels. I have however, reacted quickly to drinking too much alcohol, eating cakes, sweets, biscuits, fizzy drinks, processed sauces, ketchup, soy sauce, milk chocolate with low cocoa content, processed cheap fruit juices etc. In the case of alcohol it is possibly the combination of yeast and sugar (or too many glasses) – and if you look at the ingredients of a great many processed foods it is the sugar content that is likely to be the main culprit.

I have some key indicators for a rise in levels of Candida overgrowth in my system. The inside of my ears begins to itch irritatingly and my eyes start watering. If I continue to consume sugars in excess I can develop thrush symptoms.

It is difficult in this day and age to eliminate all yeast and sugar from the diet, but significant changes can be put in place overnight. There are some yeast and sugar-free breads available, such as soda bread. Use sugar-free jams and marmalades, which are now readily available from health food shops and supermarkets. Breakfast cereals are major culprits, so I suggest that, for the first eight weeks, you have porridge or yeast free toast (Irish Soda Bread) for breakfast. After that, you can reintroduce other breakfast cereals into your diet, but opt for the low-sugar variety. (You will find a recipe for Irish Soda Bread below which is really easy to make and very tasty).

It is however essential that you avoid sweet foods such as cakes, chocolate and biscuits. This is where taking Grapefruit Seed Extract helped me out.

Grapefruit Seed Extract

It is not allowed to recommend and guarantee that any natural product can cure a condition. That being said I can say that it ‘may’ help get a Candida overgrowth under control.  I have used for the last 20 years for a number of applications both internally and externally particularly for its antibiotic application.

In the late 1970s a gardener noticed that the grapefruit seeds in his compost didn’t rot. This particularly observant gardener was Dr. Jacob Harich, an immunologist (and a physicist) with a particular interest in natural remedies.

When he investigated what was happening he discovered that something in the seeds appeared to be more effective, and at the same time less harmful, than any known antibiotic. It was found that the shell of the seed was anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, which makes it an excellent natural antibiotic.

Today you can buy Grapefruit Seed Extract which carries all these properties in a naturally occurring form.

Obviously, there are times when antibiotics are essential, but a healthy person with a strong immune system should rarely need to take them. Antibiotics do not cure viral infections, such as colds. However, Grapefruit Seed Extract is not only anti-bacterial but also anti-viral. In our household we put about 40 drops of this oil into our liquid soap and this helps prevent colds being passed on by touching, the most common way of catching a cold.

Always start on a small dosage of Grapefruit Seed Extract. If the Candida is killed off too quickly, a mild toxic reaction, with symptoms similar to flu, may be experienced. Start with four drops in a little water or juice, three times a day before meals for four days. Then, increase the dose to ten drops three times a day and after a further seven days increase to fifteen drops three times a day. As a maintenance dosage and to prevent the Candida from increasing again, I take a capsule a day, which contains a measured 15-drop dose. Grapefruit Seed Extract is available from most health food shops, but I tend to buy online at Higher Nature who I find carry most of the quality supplements I take.

Other natural remedies


Garlic is also an excellent anti-fungal and anti-bacterial agent. It is also a good idea to take acidophilus after a course of antibiotics. Each capsule contains billions of good bacteria, which help to re-populate the intestine. I usually take a pro-biotic every six weeks or so to help maintain healthy intestinal flora and the strength I use is 3 billion.

Aloe Vera gel is helpful to counteract the deficiencies resulting from Candida. It also helps keep body in an optimum alkaline state which is not great for the fungus.

Candida sufferers will always have to follow a sensible diet, with plenty of fresh foods, including fruit. Some people say you should not eat fruit if you suffer from Candida. My theory is that fruit provides natural sugars that our bodies are well able to process. It is the refined sugars that the body has difficulty processing. Fruit is so good for us that it would be very wrong to exclude it from the diet. Recent research on the effect of natural sugars in fruit on an overgrowth has also found little connection. I have also found that a little honey now and then on my porridge does me no harm at all. Again, it is a natural sugar that all mammals have enjoyed for millions of years.

After two or three weeks following these recommendations, you will begin to notice significant improvements in your general well-being. Your energy levels will have returned to normal, any allergy symptoms will have improved dramatically and lots of niggling aches and pains that you probably put down to age will have eased. As these improvements occur, make a note of them. They will be your barometer. For example, when my ears begin to itch inside, I know that I have overdone the sugars and I go back to a sugar-free program and the Grapefruit Seed Extract for a few days. This is a condition that you have to manage by diet, so it is important to get to know the signals your body is sending you.

Recipe for Irish Soda Bread.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees – put the rack mid oven. Prepare two 14inch bread tins – I use greaseproof paper cut to size and a little olive oil around the tin so that the paper sticks.

Ingredients – for two loaves.

  • 600gm strong whole wheat plain flour (or 500gm flour and 100gm porridge oats)
  • two teaspoons of baking powder
  • Two teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
  • Two teaspoons of salt
  • Two teaspoons of sugar
  • Two eggs
  • 600ml milk (I use full fat) or buttermilk/Kefir

Juice of two lemons (to sour the milk if not using Buttermilk or yoghurt)


  1. Add the lemon juice to the milk and stir – leave for about 15 minutes until it thickens.
  2. Sift the flour into a large bowl (add porridge oats)
  3. Add in the bicarbonate, baking powder, sugar and salt
    mix in gently.
  4. Pour in the soured milk and using a fork gently stir together.
  5. Add in two eggs and mix in.
  6. Pour the mixture into the tins and place in the hot oven for approximately 60 minutes. Check after 50 and the loaves should have risen and be brown on top.
  7. When baked take the loaves out of the oven and remove from tins. (peel of the paper if you have used)
  8. You will know they are cooked if they sound hollow when you tap them on the bottom of the loaf.
  9. Wrap in clean tea towels to stop the crust getting too crisp and leave on a rack until cool.
  10. I wrap one in Clingfilm and put in freezer and because there are no preservatives you need to eat over a couple of days. I keep one in the fridge.

©sallygeorginacronin 1998 – 2018