Smorgasbord Health Column – Project 101 – Resilience – An opportunity to get fighting fit – Sally Cronin


Welcome to the new series – Project 101 – Resilience.

As with most of you, I have spent the last 10 weeks in lock down with only a visit to the supermarket for fresh produce once a week. Thankfully, and touch wood, none of our family or close friends have been infected and slowly we are all coming out of hibernation and preparing to face the world again.

I am sure I am not alone in feeling somewhat nervous about this and will continue with my early shopping to avoid the crowds, wear gloves and a mask when shopping and decontaminate when I get home again.

I have been making good use of the time by continuing to work on keeping myself fit plus resurrecting some writing projects. I have also been planning the direction I would like the blog to take in the next year. For example, I wanted to make use of all the health posts that I have in the archives which number in their 100s, and re-purpose them in a way that readers would find useful.

Project 101 – Resilience.

Let me say upfront, that I cannot promise that what you will read over the next few weeks will prevent you catching a viral or bacterial infection, but what I would like to do is to encourage as many people as possible to take themselves out of the identified high risk categories by making some small changes to their lifestyle and diet.

One of the highest risks is to those over 70, particularly those who have underlying health problems. However, those health problems are predominantly lifestyle related and do not have to be for life. For example, Obesity, Type II Diabetes, Inflammatory diseases, nutritional deficiencies such as Vitamin D and High Blood Pressure.

I see a window of opportunity for all of us to review our health, diet and lifestyle and see where we can make improvements to boost our immune systems, reduce our risk factors and feel more confident about going back out into the world again. A chance to get our bodies fighting fit.

Over the last 20 years or so of working with 100s of clients as a nutritional therapist, I have discovered that making sweeping changes does not work. There are three elements that require attention, physical, mental and emotional, and making small but key changes in these areas is much more effective.

Some background for anyone new to the blog reading this.

Although I am 67 years old and in good health, it was not always the case and I am very grateful that I took this approach  25 years ago to take back control of my life and health.

When I was 42 years old, I ticked all the boxes in the list of risk factors of becoming critically ill if infected by the Covid-19 virus.  I weighed 330lbs – 24 stone, had high blood pressure, was pre-diabetic with high blood sugar levels, and had frequent respiratory infections and I was working in a high stress environment.

I experienced my wake-up call in 1995, when a doctor told me bluntly that I would be very lucky to reach 45. Which was why it was probably not advisable to ride a mechanical bull…especially as it struggled to move, much to the concern of the operator!

I had experienced weight issues since the age of ten, littered with crash diets and bingeing that had led to this crossroads in my life. I started studying nutrition and medicine, spending hours reading complex medical books in an effort to find the reasons behind my inability to lose weight and keep it off. Most of it was double Dutch to be honest and I began taking notes in plain English so that I could understand better. I came to the conclusion that the medical profession did not actually want you to understand your body and health issues!

Once I knew how the organs and the operating systems of my body worked, including my brain which was key in my weight and health issues, and had a better understanding of my body’s nutritional needs, I set about losing weight. I knew that unlike in the past when I had rushed into every new fad diet that hit the media, I had to adopt a healthy and sustainable approach to the challenge by developing a project plan, in the same way I had for years in a business environment. As I worked through this project plan I also continued to study nutrition and medicine which I had now found completely fascinating.

After 18 months I had lost 154lbs, no longer required blood pressure medication, my blood sugar and cholesterol levels were normal and I felt at least ten years younger.

Me in 1998 after 154lbs weight loss

I have had some lapses in the last 25 years, usually due to being in stressful environments, but I have managed to pull myself back from regaining all the weight I had lost by reverting to my original project plan. Now at 67 I am at a healthy weight and still do not need any prescribed medication as all my key indicators are within normal ranges.

Read the complete weight loss guide: Weight Loss – Size Matters The Sequel

Risk Factors.

This leads directly into the identified key risk factors for all ages during the pandemic which include obesity, underlying health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, respiratory diseases such as COPD and heart conditions. Being deficient in Vitamin D for example has also been included in this list.

The most at risk members of our society are those over 65 years old, not just because they are more likely to have underlying health issues, but because the human body as it ages goes through some fundamental changes in structure and function.

For example, we are more likely to become less active and our lungs, which are the organs most impacted by a respiratory virus, stiffen and do not have the flexibility to work effectively enough to get rid of the infection.

There is also a likelihood of a suppressed immune system and that can be the result of a deficiency of essential nutrients. This happens when a person begins to eat less due to lack of activity and appetite, but also due to a less efficient digestive system. More older people have dental issues and opt for foods that are easier to eat and are missing components such as fibre. Stomach acid may be less and therefore food is not in the right format when it passes into the intestines to have nutrients extracted and passed into the bloodstream.

There is also a severe risk of Vitamin D deficiency in older members of our society who are less active and particularly those who are in care homes who have restricted access to the outside. This risk however, is not limited to the older generation as scientists have identified a high percentage of Covid – 19 patients are deficient in the vitamin.

The majority of men and women over 65 are also on a cocktail of prescribed medication that have side effects such as blood pressure pills, other heart medications and Statins for cholesterol. And whilst you should not stop taking any drugs that have been prescribed for you by your doctor, there is an opportunity that working with them, you could reduce your need for them over time.

One of the key issues facing us as we get older is inflammation within the body and is a result of our own immune system going into overdrive resulting in arthritis, myocarditis – inflammation in the heart resulting in breathing problems, inflammation in the small vessels in the lungs, water retention and in the kidneys resulting in high blood pressure. Inflammation in  the brain is also a cause of memory loss and dementia. I will look at this key issue in  more detail later in the series, and share some ways we can limit its influence on our health.

What I will cover in Project 101 – Resilience.

It is not my intention to repeat all the posts on weight loss, the immune system, digestive system, diabetes, the brain and the lungs in all their detail.

Instead the posts will be about making small changes over a period of time to improve both function and resilience of the body so that should you catch a virus, including Covid-19 you are better equipped to fight off the infection.

To back up the posts I am creating pages of the relevant series such as weight loss that you can read in full should you wish to find out more. This includes the entire Size Matters the Sequel series of 17 Chapters that I have put into one page that you can bookmark and read at your leisure. As we go through the project I will upload more pages on the other topics for you to access easily. You may well have read the posts in the last few years, but I hope putting them together in this way will make them easier to access for reference.

Among the topics I will be covering:

  • Weight loss and some hacks that helped me lose over 150lbs
  • Inflammation in the body and brain one of the leading causes of disease
  • Lung function improvement.
  • Immune system boosting
  • Vitamin D and its vital role in keeping our bodies safe.
  • Exercise – keeping moving and the body functioning.
  • Flexibility – not just in body but in mind.
  • Blood Pressure – we need it to pump blood around our bodies, but too high and it can be dangerous.
  • Type II Diabetes and Pre-diabetes – risk factors that are simple to reverse
  • The Brain – The control centre of the body and it needs to be treated with respect.
  • Stress and its impact on weight and major organs such as the heart.
  • Acidity and Alkalinity in the body and how are creating the perfect environment for pathogens.

Whether you need to lose 7lbs or 100lbs you need to know where you are now.

It is important to have a start point when you are planning to lose weight so that you have a road map to follow, with a destination that is attainable. I often hear clients say ‘I would just love to lose 10 kilos or 2 stone or 10lbs’. This is based not necessarily on the actual weight they need to lose but what they consider to be an acceptably achievable goal. To be honest you need to be a little more specific than this. You may only need to lose 7lbs or 100lbs or you may need to lose more to reach a healthy weight for your age and activity level.

There are two common methods of measuring your weight with regard to health and that is a straightforward weight/height/sex comparison and BMI or Body Mass Index. I believe that it is easier to manage and track your actual weight rather than focus on just BMI – certainly if you are a body builder and fit, determining your health with BMI is not relevant.

Most ideal weight profiles are derived from insurance company statistical tables. These tables however were produced nearly 60 years ago when physically we were shorter and our diet following the war years was still restricted for many people.

I don’t believe that these tables are appropriate today and if you take the ideal weights in that table and treat it as the minimum weight for your height then I believe that it is more realistic for this generation. It is a guideline only and the important factors are the indicators of how healthy you are internally as well as externally.

Of greater importance to me, are your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

As you lose weight it is a very good idea not to just look at the lbs lost and inches but also improvement levels in all of the key indicators such as BP, Blood Glucose, Cholesterol. If you have high blood pressure for example, every 14lbs you lose could relate to a drop of 10% in your blood pressure.  This is particularly important if you are taking BP medication and you should work with your doctor to bring you off medication when you BP had dropped to normal levels. Pharmacies very often offer these tests so that you can check your improvements every 6 weeks or so.

It is very satisfactory to see those numbers coming down to normal levels and it is as important as the weight lost. I will cover these in more detail as we go through the series.

Feed the body, don’t starve it.

I also do not believe in starving the body into submission – when I was studying to correct my own weight issues, I realised that despite being 24 stone I was suffering from malnutrition. Lots of calories but too few nutrients in my diet – hence mal–nourished. You have no idea how funny most of my overweight clients found that notion.

You will often hear the expression “starvation syndrome” which is where the body loses weight under famine conditions (crash diet) and then rebounds with extra weight when there is a time of harvest (when you start to eat normally again) I have always preferred to call this “nutritional deficiency syndrome” .

Some of the other important issues also need to be taken into account.

During your weight loss do you have plenty of energy and is your immune system functioning efficiently? Losing weight successfully involves a number of other factors apart from the food you eat, including exercise, willpower and your emotional involvement.

However, we do need that start point and I have a basic ready reckoner that you can adapt for your own physical build. I have used this for years for both myself and my clients and I have found it the easiest to combine both frame size and weight.

How much should you weigh?

There are a number of sites that will work out your frame size for you – it involves your wrist measurement and your height. Take your wrist measurement with a tape measure and plug in with your height. So for example.. I am 5ft 11inches and my wrist measures 6.5 inches which gives me a medium body frame.

Women: Height under 5’2″

Small = wrist size less than 5.5″
Medium = wrist size 5.5″ to 5.75″
Large = wrist size over 5.75″

Height 5’2″ to 5′ 5″

Small = wrist size less than 6″
Medium = wrist size 6″ to 6.25″
Large = wrist size over 6.25″

Height over 5′ 5″

Small = wrist size less than 6.25″
Medium = wrist size 6.25″ to 6.5″
Large = wrist size over 6.5″

Men: Height over 5′ 5″

Small = wrist size 5.5″ to 6.5″
Medium = wrist size 6.5″ to 7.5″
Large = wrist size over 7.5″

Source: Medline Plus

Working out your weight.

For medium framed women as the average. As a base, use 100lbs up to five foot and then 6lbs for every inch over that height. Modify by 5% either way if you have a light frame or heavy frame.

For medium framed men. As a base, use 106lbs up to five foot and then 7lbs for every inch over that height. Modify either way by 5% if you have a light frame or heavy frame.

Examples

 A woman who is a heavy frame and 5’ 6” would have an optimal weight of: 100lbs + (6lbs for every inch over 5ft) 36lbs = 136lbs – Add 5% for heavy frame = 6.8lbs

This gives an optimum weight of 142.8lbs, 10stone 2lbs or 67.7Kilos

A light framed man of 5’ 10” would have an optimum weight of: 106lbs + (7lbs for every inch over 5ft) 70lbs = 176lbs – Subtract 5% for light frame = 9lbs

This gives an optimum weight of 167lbs,  11stone 13lbs or 75.9Kilos.

Another motivating way to measure your progress is to take an honest (really honest) Before Photograph and then at set intervals along your path to health. Having the After Photo – framed and on display will help you keep you on target.

Here are just three of mine that marked my weight loss project.

Me at 330lbs — then after 100lbs lost….then 145lbs almost at the finish line.

I will be sharing more weight loss hacks over the next few weeks as part of  the series.

Get moving with Music Therapy

One of the perks of being a radio presenter was being asked to MC charity events and my job was to warm everyone up before the walk or race with some motivational music… over the course of these posts I will be sharing my playlist for those events and to help build your resilience and improve physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Give yourself a break after reading this post and get up and get moving. Ideally every two hours of inactivity should be followed by at least 15 minutes of activity.

If you are not particularly active at the moment then you can walk on the spot, but swing your arms in time to the music so that you activate your breathing. If you are a little bit more adventurous then take to the floor and have fun – Here is Bee Gees with Jive Talking thanks to beegees

Buy music by the Bee GeesAmazon US

I will also be offering to help anyone who wishes to have a review done of their current diet with a two week food diary analysis.  This might be useful if you need to loose weight or feel that you are not getting the full range of nutrients you need.

Here are the links to the pages that support the posts in the series

Weight Loss – Size Matters The Sequel
The Lungs
Stress
The Immune System and Vitamin D
The Digestive and Immune System
Pre-Diabetes and Diabetes

I hope you will join me again tomorrow but if you miss any posts they will be linked in the weekly round up next Saturday and also in a page in the main menu.  thanks Sally

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2020

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

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

 

Smorgasbord Health Column – The Digestive System Part Three – The Liver – Largest waste organ inside the body.


 

In the last two posts, I have worked my way through the digestive system from the mouth, down the oesophagus and into the stomach, (not literally of course) but there are some important organs within that system that deserve some personal attention on the way. One of those is the Liver which carries out the important task of ridding our body of toxins and storing essential nutrients for our health.

I remember a teenage client who wondered what all the fuss was about – you could get a transplant couldn’t you? I set him the task of researching the actual operation, first hand accounts of those who had undergone this major operation and the long lasting implications and side effects. Hasten to say he was a lot less cocky about the process on his next appointment.

I have met people who believe that as long as you give up smoking and drinking before you are 40 you will be absolutely fine! Yes, there are individuals who drink like a fish and live to 95 and some of them even smoked too. They also did not have the benefit of our high sugar modern diet and lack of exercise! I also would be tempted to ask them to pick my lottery numbers each week because they are the fortunate ones.

For the rest of us, the earlier we put some thought into the long term care of our major organs the better. I will admit that I was in my late 30’s before I woke up to this fact when given some rather indigestible truths about my prognosis. But better late than never.

Part of that care comes from understanding the how, what and where an organ’s role is in our body and health.

Where is the liver?

Liver in Torso

Surprisingly the liver is the largest of our internal organs and in fact it is the size of a large melon. Mainly in the upper right side of your abdomen it lies beneath the diaphragm just above your stomach. Higher up in the chest than people imagine which is important when determining symptoms such as pain.

What does the liver do?

The liver is a multi-tasking organ, capable of around 500 functions. Before you put rubbish in your mouth, think about the liver as your best friend. Is it going to be happy when this jumbo hotdog, salad cream, on a white bread roll with margarine, onions cooked in lard and the reconstituted chips with lots of salt and large blueberry muffin with a 16oz diet soda hits the system!! Everything you consume including all the preservatives, toxins, lousy fats, drugs, excess sugar will pass through this portal…..

Liver

The liver has two essential roles – making or processing chemicals and eliminating toxins and waste. Without this portal system none of the nutrients that we have carefully processed and passed in the intestines could be carried in the blood, through the liver to nourish the body and give us energy.

The liver is the organ but the work horses are the millions and millions of cells it holds.

Specialist cells, hepatocytes deal with the raw materials our body runs on – proteins, carbohydrates and fats. We are made of protein and we need to consume high quality protein to renew our cells and create new ones – in its raw state some proteins are not accepted by the body and the role of the liver’s cells is to change the format so that it is usable. Any waste from the liver cell’s processes is not passed back into the blood stream but stored for elimination. Similarly with carbohydrates, the liver cells will convert the carbs into appropriate fuel that can be easily accessed by the body for energy.

Kuppfer cells

The waste disposal cells in the liver are called Kuppfer cells, after the man who discovered them – they are the Dysons of the cell fraternity, sucking up bacteria and toxins before handing over to the hepacytes for processing. This means that the liver is incredibly important for your immune system. The liver also stores iron as well as other vitamins and minerals you need such as B12 and the organ makes clotting factors that stop bleeding after injury.

One of the key roles of the liver in cholesterol management – In spite of an effort to demonise cholesterol it is very important to appreciate the vital roles that it performs in the body. Cholesterol is vital to our digestive system, in that it forms the base for bile acids that are used to emulsify fat in the small bowel so that fat and fat soluble vitamins like E and K can be absorbed…

You can find more about cholesterol in the Health Column Directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-column-news-nutrients-health-conditions-anti-aging/

I treat my liver as the guardian of my health and if you take care of this organ first you will find that will have a very beneficial effect on the optimum balance of LDL and HDL cholesterol in your blood.

Next time I will be looking at some of the major diseases of the liver.

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 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:  http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

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

 

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 Column – The Digestive System – Part Two – The Oesophagus, Acid Reflux and Stomach by Sally Cronin


Yesterday I began this updated series on the digestive system, in response to a number of emails from readers who have health issues relating to this body wide processing apparatus.

The Digestive system Part Two.

We continue the journey through the digestive system – not as exotic as an ocean cruise but far more critical to your health. Back in 1985 we moved to Houston, Texas for two years with my husband’s job. We found an apartment and hooked up to cable TV – and the first thing I saw was a lengthy ad break. Two adverts in particular at each end of this ad break, funnily enough were for Antacids to take before you went out for that dinner to protect you against an acid attack later that night! The ad at the other end of the break was for hemorrhoid cream. Quite an introduction to cable TV! The point however, is that antacids are still being taken routinely as a preventative before a night of excess food and drink which as you will see later in the blog can cause more problems than just a touch of acid.

Anyway on with the journey through the digestive process and I am sure you cannot wait until we get to the intestines!

The oesophagus

The oesophagus takes the food down into the stomach by a series of rhythmic contractions of its extremely effective muscles called peristalsis. At the other end of the oesophagus is a sphincter, which opens and closes the opening into the stomach and prevents food from returning upward to the mouth. I have looked at this problem in more detail in diseases connected to the digestive system.

The stomach

The stomach forms a balloon or sac and is the widest part of the digestive tract. The oesophagus enters through the oesophageal sphincter and exits through the pyloric sphincter at the entrance to the duodenum.

Like most of our organs the stomach is made up of specific layers that play a role either in its physical functionality or its chemical contribution to the digestive process.

The external layer of the stomach consists of layers of muscles lying in longitudinal and circular directions to ensure maximum flexibility and strength. This muscle layer is lined with a membrane called the epithelium housing the gastric glands that will produce gastric juice. This juice is a mixture of acid and enzymes without which we would be unable to process food at all or extract the vital nutrients we require to survive. Normally we would produce in the region of 3 litres of gastric juice a day which is perfect for a normal diet but inadequate for the majority of people who eat in excess of their daily requirements on a regular basis. If food is not processed thoroughly it can lead to complications as it enters the intestines causing constipation and in some cases blockages.

Acid reflux and chronic heartburn

Most of us have experienced heartburn at some point in our lives, usually following a really good night out. Eating a heavy meal especially combined with lots of alcohol is bound to produce some of the more common symptoms of burning sensation in the chest and belching but for many people this digestive problem is a daily occurrence.

The most common cause of heartburn is acid backing up into the oesophagus from the stomach. Normally this would be prevented by a flap, the Lower Oesophageal Sphincter (LES), at the bottom of the digestive tract that allows food into the stomach but prevents partly digested contents from returning back up into the tube.

If it happens occasionally after a particularly heavy meal or too much alcohol then it is not a major problem but if it is happening frequently then you should go to your doctor and ask him to check for any physical reason for the problem.

The most common symptoms are a feeling that food is caught in the throat producing a choking or gagging reflex. The throat might feel tight and there is a burning in the chest, which could be accompanied by difficulty in swallowing and breathing difficulties.

Apart from a faulty oesophageal sphincter there is a possibility of a hiatus hernia. Hiatal or hiatus hernias are also known as diaphragmatic hernias. They occur when the upper part of the stomach is above the diaphragm, the muscle wall that separates the stomach from the chest. When the muscle tissue around the hiatus becomes weak, the upper part of your stomach may bulge through the diaphragm into your chest cavity. The diaphragm helps the LES keep acid from coming up into the oesophagus. So when a hernia is present, it is easier for the acid to come up. In this way, a hiatus hernia can cause reflux or heartburn.

Image

This malformation can occur in people of any age and most people over 50 have a small one but it is a more common problem in women and anyone who is overweight.

There are some foods that have been identified as possible triggers for frequent acid reflux and heartburn attacks and these are:

  •  Citrus fruits (not lemons)
  • Caffeine based drinks – such as coffee, tea and soft drinks
  • Fried or fatty foods
  • Onions
  • Spicy food
  • High sugar intake such as a rich dessert after a heavy meal

If you are a long term sufferer of heartburn and acid reflux, then it is a good idea to eliminate all of the above for two to three weeks and see if there is an improvement by monitoring your symptoms carefully and writing them down each day. That way it is easier to identify if there is a particular food outside of these that is causing you a problem.

Eat little and often to prevent overfilling your stomach at any one time and do not drink excessive fluids immediately before or during a meal.

Take a gentle walk after eating and don’t lie down for two to three hours after eating.

This means eating earlier and it might be helpful to lie slightly propped up in bed when sleeping.

Peptic ulcer

A peptic ulcer is a sore or hole in the lining of the stomach or duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). Look away if you are squeamish.

Image

People of any age can get an ulcer and women are affected just as often as men. The major cause of a peptic ulcer is a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H.Pylori) and it is estimated that over 60% of us over the age of 60 have it, in varying strengths, in our stomachs.

The bacteria weaken the protective mucous coating on the walls of the stomach and the duodenum or small intestine. Acid from the stomach is then allowed to reach the delicate lining underneath the mucous where it irritates the tissue causing a sore or ulcer.

H.Pylori secretes an enzyme that neutralises the stomach acid allowing it to survive and reach the lining and its spiral shaped cells are perfect for burrowing through the mucous and tissues.

The most obvious symptom of an ulcer is a dull ache that is usually intermittent and is most noticeable three or four hours after eating a meal. It can occur when the stomach is also empty which is why many sufferers experience an attack in the middle of the night. Often the act of eating will relieve the symptoms particularly if the food is alkaline forming, rather than acidic, and I have put together a list of foods that are either alkaline or alkaline forming in this chapter.

If the problem is not diagnosed and treated then the symptoms can become very much worse with weight loss, bloating, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite.

It is important that if the pain becomes very sharp and persistent and there is blood in either stool or vomit that you seek emergency treatment immediately as it could indicate that the ulcer has perforated.

Normally if you have H.Pylori it is treated with antibiotics but you can help reduce the efficiency of the bacteria by including anti-bacterial foods and herbs on a daily basis. One of the alternative therapies that I recommend for Candida is grapefruit seed extract and this taken three times a day before food can be effective. Onions, garlic, shitake mushrooms, Aloe Vera and green tea are also excellent.

If you are in for a culinary treat! Raw cabbage juice has quite the reputation for sealing peptic ulcers. I have tried for acid some time ago and I have to say worked well. However, because of the potential dangers of a peptic ulcer, if you have severe pains in the stomach, do not hesitate – go straight to the Doctor. As an alternative to antacids which I will cover in a moment, cabbage juice for me is the preferable option.

Recipe.

If you do not have a juicer, Wash three large cabbage leaves and chop finely, added to half a litre of cold water in a blender – blend well – strain the juice off and keep in fridge. Drink about 6 oz., 30 minutes before eating lunch and dinner. It takes about 3 days for the acid to subside.

The pulp actually is quite tasty with a little seasoning and a bit of butter to go with your dinner….Plenty on the web about cabbage juice so I suggest you explore.

Antacids.

Whilst we all reach for these when we have had a heavy night of eating and drinking, or in some cases before, they should never be taken long term. Even the FDA who can be slow to react to potential hazards issued warnings. There is an increased risk of bone fractures and dementia – antacids are typically made from the following ingredients – Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), calcium carbonate, aluminium hydroxide, magnesium carbonate and/or magnesium hydroxide – some of which can affect bone density and you should be careful if you already have kidney and liver problems.

There are also concerns for over use of antacids in the digestive process. If you reduce your gastric acid below an optimum level, you are going to reduce its digestive efficiency and this means that food is entering the intestines in the wrong consistency – apart from causing intestinal health problems the nutrients will not be extracted at this stage of the process either. This leads to nutritional deficiency and the diseases associated with that.

  • For the occasional heartburn, keep some bicarbonate of soda on hand – one teaspoon in warm water.
  • I find that drinking peppermint tea between meals helps me but everyone is individual and you will have to experiment with both diet and lifestyle.

Milk is sometimes recommended to line and reduce the acid in the stomach, but after a couple of hours the milk will turn rancid and add to the acid burden.

©sallycronin Just Food for Health 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 fromhttp://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 Column – The Digestive System Part One – It begins in the mouth by Sally Cronin


I have received a number of emails regarding the digestive system and its many different functions and also related health issues…I am therefore going to feature a post a day for the next couple of weeks, taking you through the various organs involved and how our food is digested to ensure we receive the nutrients that we require.  Also some of the health issues that can be experienced when the system is not working efficiently.

The Digestive System – It begins in the mouth.

As the purpose of these blogs is to offer you an overview of the body, I am not going to attempt to give you all the specifics about this complex and fascinating process. However, it does serve to illustrate the knock-on effect on our overall health if one part of the operating system, or chemical process, is damaged and off-line for a period of time.

Actually the digestive process starts in the nasal passages – remember how it feels to smell fresh baked bread, the BBQ or a curry. The saliva starts to build up in your mouth – which is why we call it ‘mouth-watering’. As soon as that process begins – we are ready to eat and digest the food. Interestingly enough, people who have a reduced or non-existent ability to smell rarely become obese!

The mouth

The mouth is much larger than we would imagine from an external view and it contains the tongue and the teeth behind the entrance, which is guarded by the lips and mouth. At the rear of the mouth are the various tubes leading to the lungs or the rest of the digestive tract.

There are two palates within the mouth, the hard and soft palates. The hard palate to the front of the roof of the mouth is used by the tongue to mix and soften food whilst the soft palate (velum) can expand to allow food to pass back into the oesophagus without being forced up into the nasal passages.

The cheeks and soft tissues of the mouth are covered in a mucous membrane that keeps the mouth moist helped by the salivary glands. This membrane is one of the most vulnerable to wear and tear in the body and has remarkable powers of regeneration.

The tongue

The tongue is triangular, wider at the base than at the tip. It is attached at the base to the lower jaw and to the hyoid bone of the skull. At the sides of the base it is attached to the pharynx which is the cavity at the back of the mouth. The top of the tongue is curved and is home to our taste buds, the front is called the apex and the back of the tongue is called the dorsum.

The tongue is very flexible and is controlled by a complex set of muscles both in the tongue itself and also in the jaw and neck. The styloglossus muscle in the neck is responsible for the upward and backward movement of the tongue and the hyoglossus also in the neck brings it back down into the normal resting position.

Of course one of the main functions of the tongue is its involvement in our speech and its health is therefore vital. Without it our ability to process food in the mouth and to talk would be virtually non-existent.

Food has to be chewed before it is presented to the rest of the digestive tract. The tongue will roll the food around the mouth so that the teeth can begin the process of breaking it down into manageable pieces.

The teeth

The teeth are very necessary to our digestive process as food needs to be in small enough pieces to pass through the oesophagus into the stomach and also to allow enzymes adequate access to the last crumb. If it is a large chunk of food it will not be processed efficiently and we will lose much of the benefit.

We have two sets of teeth in our lifetime and how we look after the first set can have an effect on the health of the second and adult teeth. I was a dental nurse and in the 60’s we began to see the effect of increased sugars particularly in soft drinks on children’s teeth. My boss who was then in his 60’s was horrified in the difference that had taken place in only 20 or 30 years. As children we have 20 milk teeth that develop from small root structures under the gum at birth appearing around 9 months old to around 6 years old when they are pushed out by the 32 adult teeth as they begin to erupt. The second teeth can be affected by diet when they are still beneath the gums and this can lead to a lifetime of fillings and extractions.

All our teeth have specific roles in digestion and we are given enough so that as we age and lose a few we can still have the ability to process food. Of course in the last hundred years or so we have got very clever and can now replace teeth with dentures or better still implant new artificial teeth into the jaw that last around 15 to 20 years depending on the material used.

The incisors are designed to cut and the pointed canines are perfect for tearing foods such as meat and plant food apart. Our premolars and molars towards the back of the mouth can grind and crush other foods such as nuts, seeds and if necessary even bone.

Teeth are firmly fixed in sockets in the upper and lower jaw by a root system that may have one or two roots depending on tooth type and its role. Gum surrounds the tooth to help protect from decay and act as a buffer while the teeth work on food several times a day for our lifetime. The outer surface is enamel, which is one of the hardest substances in the human body and beneath this is dentine a pulp that protects the sensitive nerve and blood system in the middle of the tooth.

One of the key elements of efficient digestion is how we chew our food. Most of us eat far too quickly, not allowing the teeth to produce small enough pieces of food or our saliva and enzymes to carry out their part in the process.

Chewing slowly has the added benefit of allowing a message to get through from the stomach to the brain to tell it that you are full and to stop eating. This not only helps us maintain a healthy weight but it also reduces the stress and pressure on the digestive system.

N.B – If you have elderly relatives it is important to make sure that they have regular dental care and if they have dentures they fit properly. The inability to chew food means that they will tend to drop certain foods from their diet and begin to suffer from nutrient deficiencies, particular B vitamins that are in whole grains and meats.

The salivary glands –

The salivary glands at the base of the tongue produce an enzyme called ptyalin that digests starch and a chemical called Lysozyme that sanitises the food to prevent infection both in the mouth and the digestive tract. It is hard to believe but the human adult will produce in the region of 1½ litres of saliva per day consisting of mucous and fluid. It is important that the mouth is kept very moist not only for comfort but to enable us to deal with dry foods allowing it to be chewed more easily. It is also essential once food has been chewed, to ease the next stage of the digestive process when food is swallowed.

There are a number of salivary glands positioned in the mouth the largest being the parotids, in the neck, just in front of the ears. The glands that excrete the most saliva are under the jaw. These are the submandibular glands. And finally, under the tongue in the floor of the mouth are the sublinguals. The amylase enzyme produced by these glands converts the carbohydrate we eat into disaccharide sugars for further processing later in the stomach and intestines. (If you want to witness this in action, wave a cooked sausage in front of a dog’s nose and place their jaw over a basin!)

The pharynx

I looked at the respiratory role of the pharynx in the blogs on lungs, but it also is a channel for food. Its upper parts are connected to the nose and the mouth and lower part is connected to the voice box or larynx and leads to the oesophagus for swallowing.

We have all choked on food at one time or another and the reason for this natural and instinctive action is the epiglottis, the flap that prevents food and foreign particles from entering the lungs.

When we swallow this flap tilts backward and the larynx rises up. The cartilage bands around the larynx called the vocal cords come together and close the flap to seal off the entrance to the trachea. As soon as the food has passed safely into the oesophagus on its way to the stomach the epiglottis re-opens to allow air into the windpipe again.

Next time we will move into the oesophagus and the stomach.

©sallycronin Just Food for Health 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 fromhttp://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 only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally