Smorgasbord Health Column – Weekly Grocery Shopping List by Nutrient – Part Six – Essential Fatty Acids by Sally Cronin


Last week I posted  Part Five of this alternative shopping list by nutrient, as well as types of vitamins, water or fat soluble, and a basic list of essential nutrients the body needs to be healthy. At the end of the the posts, I will collate the foods into nutritional groups so that you can print off and refer to when doing your weekly shop.

I believe in eating, and eating all food groups, just moderating the amount that you eat based on your requirements. Your body knows how to process fresh food, raw and cooked from scratch. It is not designed to extract nutrients from manufactured foods which includes the majority that come in a packet, jar or can.

With that in mind here is part six of a shopping list that your body might write if it was capable. It does try to tell you that it is missing elements that it needs which is when you are sick.

Weekly Grocery Shopping List by Nutrient – Part Six – Essential Fatty Acids

In recent years over 2,000 scientific studies have identified that there is a wide range of health problems associated with Omega-3 deficiencies. Unfortunately our modern diet is almost devoid of this essential fatty acid and in fact it is believed that around 60% of us are deficient in Omega-3. What is far more concerning is that a quarter of us may be so deficient that current test methods can detect none in our blood. Omega-3 is one of the most important nutrients for our health, and a lack of it in our system holds far more risk than any vitamin or mineral deficiency.

Our ancient ancestors were opportunistic hunter/gatherers and their diet was rich in Omega-3. It is estimated that through the seasons they had around 125 foods that they would consume. Today in the poorest countries of the world, some subsist on one or two staple foods. In our own ‘civilised’ cultures we rarely eat more than 25.

Before the inclusion of wild grains in the diet, ancient humans would have eaten meat, seeds, nuts and green leafy vegetables. Whilst I believe that we should also include fish and wholegrains, this is a good basis of a healthy diet.

The ramifications of not obtaining sufficient Omega-3 is long-term and apart from overall health, we are more at risk of heart disease, strokes, cancers, depression, dementia including Alzheimer’s disease. Therapeutically taking additional Omega-3 in the form of supplements may alleviate some conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes. This should only be done however after consulting a doctor or qualified nutritional therapist or other health advisor.

If you have found it difficult to lose weight there might also be a link to a deficiency in Omega-3 as it can result in the inefficient digestion of the food you do eat, even if it is classified as healthy.

Let’s look at Essential Fatty Acids in more detail.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are necessary fats that humans cannot synthesise and must be obtained through diet. There are two families of EFAs Omega-3 and Omega-6. Omega-9 is necessary but non-essential as the body can make it if the other two fatty acids are present.

EFAs are essential because they support our cardiovascular, reproductive, immune and nervous systems. We need these fats to manufacture and repair cells, maintain hormone levels and expel waste from the body. They are part of the process that regulates blood pressure, blood clotting, fertility and conception – and they also help regulate inflammation and stimulate the body to fight infection.

Omega-3 (Linolenic Acid) is the principal Omega-3 fatty acid and is used in the formation of cell walls, improving circulation and oxygen delivery. A deficiency can lead to decreased immune system function; elevated levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) high blood pressure and irregular heart beat. It is also anti-inflammatory and helps prevent heart disease.

It is found in flaxseed, walnuts, pumpkinseeds, avocados, spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables, sardines, tuna and salmon.

Omega-6 (Linoleic Acid) is the primary Omega-6 fatty acid. Omega-6 can improve rheumatoid arthritis, lower blood cholesterol, PMS, skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis.

salmonFound in flaxseeds, pumpkinseeds, olive oil, evening primrose oil, chicken and poultry, salmon.

There is growing evidence that the non-essential Oleic acid, Omega 9, may help to lower cholesterol by decreasing the unhealthy cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein), while at the same time raising the level of healthy cholesterol, HDL (high density lipoprotein).
Oleic acid is also emerging as a regulator of blood-sugar levels and as a possible protection against breast and prostate cancer.

avocadoSo, including half an avocado in your diet every day may well protect you from the harmful long-term affects of a number of diseases. Found in olive oil, olives, avocados, almonds, and walnuts.

A closer look at why EFAs are so essential.

First and foremost EFAs provide us with energy but unlike saturated fats their effect is beneficial. The body cannot manufacture them and that is why it is ESSENTIAL to include them on a daily basis in your diet.

Both of the important EFA families – omega-6 and omega-3 – are components of nerve cells and cellular membranes. They are converted by the body into hormone like messengers such as prostaglandins – which are needed on a second-by-second basis by most tissue activities in the body.

A summary of the functions in the body that EFAs are involved in:

  • Regulating pressure in the eye, joints, and blood vessels.
  • Dilating or constricting blood vessels
  • Directing endocrine hormones to specific cells
  • Regulating smooth muscle reflexes
  • Being the main constituent of cell membranes
  • Regulating the rate of cell division
  • Regulating the inflow and outflow of substances to and from cells
  • Transporting oxygen from red blood cells to the tissues
  • Maintaining proper kidney function and fluid balance
  • Keeping saturated fats mobile in the blood stream
  • Preventing blood cells from clumping together (blood clots that can be a cause of heart attack and stroke)
  • Minimising the release of inflammatory substances from cells that may trigger allergic conditions
  • Regulating nerve transmission and communication
  • If the diet is deficient in either omega-6 or omega-3 long-term degenerative illnesses can result such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease.

 ©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: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019-2020/

Next week I will compile the complete shopping list which you can print off to check which foods you might not be eating enough of and to include more regularly in your diet.

Thanks for dropping in and I hope you have found useful.. Sally

 

 

 

Smorgasbord Health Column – Nutrients the body needs – Amino Acids by Sally Cronin


There are two types of amino acid, essential and non-essential. There are approximately 80 amino acids found in nature but only 20 are necessary for healthy human growth and function. We are made up of protein and we require adequate amounts of amino acids if we are to maintain and repair the very substance that we are made from.

We need to obtain essential amino acids from our diet and our body will produce the nonessential variety on its own if our diet is lacking in the essential type.

Essential Amino Acids

These are Histidine (essential in infants can be made by the body in adults if needed), Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Cysteine (essential in infants, nonessential in adults), Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan and Valine.

Non-Essential Amino Acids

Alanine, Aspartic acid, Arginine, Carnitine, Glycine, Glutamine, Hydroxyproline, Norleucine, Proline, Serine and Tyrosine.

The Role of Amino Acids in the body

Amino acids help make neurotransmitters, the chemicals that convey messages in the brain and also hormones like insulin. They are needed for the production of enzymes that activate certain functions within the body and certain types of body fluid and they are essential for the repair and maintenance of organs, glands, muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, hair and nails.

An example of one of the essential amino acids – Tryptophan.

I have often written about tryptophan when featuring healing foods, and it is an excellent example of the role of amino acids within the body.

When we eat foods that contain tryptophan the body will use that to form the very important vitamin B3 or Niacin. Niacin is necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins to obtain the fuel we need (ATP) as well as helping to regulate cholesterol. It is necessary for the formation of red blood cells and hormones. Read more about B3 here.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/04/09/smorgasbord-health-column-nutrients-we-need-vitamin-b3-is-also-known-in-different-forms-as-niacin-nicotinic-acid-nicotinamide-and-nicinamide/

When niacin is formed it continues to work with the tryptophan along with B6 to stimulate the production of the serotonin and melatonin transmitters within the brain that not only help regulate our mood but also our sleep patterns. Without tryptophan we would be more likely to suffer from insomnia and depression.

Some studies also show that tryptophan is also a natural painkiller and interestingly it may eventually be used to prevent tooth decay.

Tooth decay is usually the result of the action of our own saliva on carbohydrates that we eat. Those people whose saliva composition resulted in a rapid rate of starch decomposition in the mouth, were more likely to suffer from excessive cavities in their teeth. Those people whose saliva caused a slow decomposition of carbohydrates were found to suffer very few dental problems. Taking in dietary tryptophan has been shown to slow down this process and may well be included in toothpaste and chewing gum in the future.

Other studies indicate that autistic children suffer from a deficiency of tryptophan. Also that it might be useful as an appetite suppressant. In combination with with another amino acid, Tyrosine, it could help with drug addiction and is recommended to overcome jet lag.

Differences between babies and adults.

Due to the enormous growth rate of babies there is a difference in the essential or nonessential properties of amino acids.

An example of this is cysteine, which is considered to be essential in babies, which is why breast milk is very high in the amino acid and non-essential in adults. Due to its high antioxidant effects it may in part be responsible for the important boosting of the immune system in newborn babies that is supplied by breast milk.

When we are adults, we still require cysteine, but instead of obtaining it from our diet it is synthesised from another essential amino acid methionine.

Cysteine plays a role in our antioxidant processes protecting us from free radical damage and therefore chronic disease and ageing. It is currently being studied in relation to a number of medical conditions including peptic ulcers, liver health, the treatment of paracetamol overdose and metal toxicity.

It may also benefit respiratory disease due to its antioxidant properties but also its ability to help break up mucous. In the form of N-acetyl cysteine it may protect the body from cancer and there is a possibility that during treatment for cancer with chemotherapy or radiotherapy that it will protect the healthy cells but not the cancerous cells from any damage.

When I covered heart disease I looked at the role of homocysteine levels in the blood and how excess levels can lead to heart disease. Taking N-acetyl cysteine in supplement form may help reduce these levels as well as the LDL (lousy cholesterol levels) in the blood.

Brief description of some of the other amino acids and their role in the body.

There is not room to cover the roles within the body of all the amino acids but here is a brief look at the diverse roles of some of the individual amino acids within the body.

Alanine – a very simple amino acid involved in the energy producing breakdown of glucose and is used to build proteins, vital for the function of the central nervous system and helps form neurotransmitters. It is very important to promote proper blood glucose levels derived from dietary protein.

Arginine – plays an important role in healthy cell division, wound healing, removing ammonia from the body, boosting the immune system and in the production and release of hormones.

Carnitine – is produced in the liver, brain and kidneys from the essential amino acids methionine and lysine. It is the nutrient responsible for the transport of fatty acids into the energy producing centres of the cells, known as the mitochondria. It also helps promote healthy heart muscle.

Creatine – is synthesised in the liver, kidneys and pancreas from Arginine, Methionine and Glycine and functions to increase the availability of the fuel we need ATP (adenosine triphosphate). It is stored in muscle cells and is used to generate cellular energy for muscle contractions when effort is required. This is why many athletes will supplement with Creatine to increase stamina and performance.

Food sources for Amino Acids.

The best food sources of amino acids are dairy products, eggs, fish, meat, soybeans, quinoa, nuts and seeds.

©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/

You can find all the other post on thenutrients the body needs in the directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-column-news-nutrients-health-conditions-anti-aging/

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

 

Smorgasbord Health Column – The Good Fats – Essential Fatty Acids and how to get the right balance Sally Cronin


 

On Tuesday I looked at the bad fats that we can allow to take over our diet. Whilst we should be able to enjoy prepared foods from time to time.. if we make them a daily part of our food intake, we are in danger of depriving the body of essential nutrients. More importantly we are also putting our bodies at risk of toxicity.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/02/27/smorgasbord-health-column-hydrogenated-fats-in-our-foods-and-how-to-avoid-them-sally-cronin/

In recent years over 2,000 scientific studies have identified that there is a wide range of health problems associated with Omega-3 deficiencies. Unfortunately our modern diet is almost devoid of this essential fatty acid and in fact it is believed that around 60% of us are deficient in Omega-3. What is far more concerning is that a quarter of us may be so deficient that current test methods can detect none in our blood. Omega-3 is one of the most important nutrients for our health, and a lack of it in our system holds far more risk than any vitamin or mineral deficiency.

Our ancient ancestors were opportunistic hunter/gatherers and their diet was rich in Omega-3. It is estimated that through the seasons they had around 125 foods that they would consume. Today in the poorest countries of the world, some subsist on one or two staple foods. In our own ‘civilised’ cultures we rarely eat more than 25.

Before the inclusion of wild grains in the diet, ancient humans would have eaten meat, seeds, nuts and green leafy vegetables. Whilst I believe that we should also include fish and wholegrains, this is a good basis of a healthy diet.

The ramifications of not obtaining sufficient Omega-3 is long-term and apart from overall health, we are more at risk of heart disease, strokes, cancers, depression, dementia including Alzheimer’s disease. Therapeutically taking additional Omega-3 in the form of supplements may alleviate some conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes. This should only be done however after consulting a doctor or qualified nutritional therapist or other health advisor.

If you have found it difficult to lose weight there might also be a link to a deficiency in Omega-3 as it can result in the inefficient digestion of the food you do eat, even if it is classified as healthy.

Let’s look at Essential Fatty Acids in more detail.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are necessary fats that humans cannot synthesise and must be obtained through diet. There are two families of EFAs Omega-3 and Omega-6. Omega-9 is necessary but non-essential as the body can make it if the other two fatty acids are present.

EFAs are essential because they support our cardiovascular, reproductive, immune and nervous systems. We need these fats to manufacture and repair cells, maintain hormone levels and expel waste from the body. They are part of the process that regulates blood pressure, blood clotting, fertility and conception – and they also help regulate inflammation and stimulate the body to fight infection.

Omega-3 (Linolenic Acid) is the principal Omega-3 fatty acid and is used in the formation of cell walls, improving circulation and oxygen delivery. A deficiency can lead to decreased immune system function; elevated levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) high blood pressure and irregular heart beat. It is also anti-inflammatory and helps prevent heart disease.

It is found in flaxseed, walnuts, pumpkinseeds, avocados, spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables, sardines, tuna and salmon.

Omega-6 (Linoleic Acid) is the primary Omega-6 fatty acid. Omega-6 can improve rheumatoid arthritis, lower blood cholesterol, PMS, skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis.

salmonFound in flaxseeds, pumpkinseeds, olive oil, evening primrose oil, chicken and poultry, salmon.

There is growing evidence that the non-essential Oleic acid, Omega 9, may help to lower cholesterol by decreasing the unhealthy cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein), while at the same time raising the level of healthy cholesterol, HDL (high density lipoprotein).
Oleic acid is also emerging as a regulator of blood-sugar levels and as a possible protection against breast and prostate cancer.

avocadoSo, including half an avocado in your diet every day may well protect you from the harmful long-term affects of a number of diseases. Found in olive oil, olives, avocados, almonds, and walnuts.

A closer look at why EFAs are so essential.

First and foremost EFAs provide us with energy but unlike saturated fats their effect is beneficial. The body cannot manufacture them and that is why it is ESSENTIAL to include them on a daily basis in your diet.

Both of the important EFA families – omega-6 and omega-3 – are components of nerve cells and cellular membranes. They are converted by the body into hormone like messengers such as prostaglandins – which are needed on a second-by-second basis by most tissue activities in the body.

A summary of the functions in the body that EFAs are involved in:

  • Regulating pressure in the eye, joints, and blood vessels.
  • Dilating or constricting blood vessels
  • Directing endocrine hormones to specific cells
  • Regulating smooth muscle reflexes
  • Being the main constituent of cell membranes
  • Regulating the rate of cell division
  • Regulating the inflow and outflow of substances to and from cells
  • Transporting oxygen from red blood cells to the tissues
  • Maintaining proper kidney function and fluid balance
  • Keeping saturated fats mobile in the blood stream
  • Preventing blood cells from clumping together (blood clots that can be a cause of heart attack and stroke)
  • Minimising the release of inflammatory substances from cells that may trigger allergic conditions
  • Regulating nerve transmission and communication
  • If the diet is deficient in either omega-6 or omega-3 long-term degenerative illnesses can result such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease.

A bit about my nutritional background.

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

 

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 – Hydrogenated Fats in our Foods – and how to avoid them. Sally Cronin


In the last few years there has been a complete reversal by governments and experts on how much fat and carbohydrates we should be eating. The information and advice is often confusing but research is definitely coming down on the side of good fats.. and that we should be including enough of them in our diet to keep us mentally and physically well.

Later in the week I will reshare the post on Essential Fatty Acids which includes a very important component of our overall health – Omega – 3.  But first a look at the fats we should be avoiding…

Hydrogenated Fats in our Foods – and how to avoid them. Sally Cronin

As humans we have consumed red meat, eggs and dairy products for many thousands of years. It is only in the last century that medical science has been able to identify and put a name to many of our medical conditions which does not mean that they did not exist before.

There are no doubt heart attacks and other problems associated with dietary deficiencies or excess occurred in the past, but we will never really know their causes. We can only go on what we have discovered now and use that to our advantage by working to prevent conditions such as cholesterol, which are silent killers.

My grandfather was a master butcher. He dropped dead one Sunday morning; 50 years ago in the process of bending down to pick up his paper. He had eaten red meat not just once but often twice a day in large quantities. He was 95 years old and had never had a day sick in his life. He not only ate huge amounts of meat but he also ate lots of fresh vegetables and fruit from his garden. He ate butter, cheese and eggs from the local farm daily and drank lots of tea. His housekeeper cooked everything fresh everyday and did not buy any processed foods. He walked everywhere even in his 90’s and had a wonderfully healthy appetite until the day he died.

I would suggest that if a nutritionist today were analysing his daily intake of fats, carbohydrates and calories without knowing his personal details, they would probably be horrified and assume that he was overweight and loaded with cholesterol. So what might be the difference between this robust healthy man eating all the cholesterol-laden foods daily and our diet today that is causing high levels of LDL cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and heart attacks? The answer lies in your packaged food products in your fridge or larder.

What is the real danger in our foods?

There is an estimated 50,000 foods that have hydrogenated fat as an ingredient. The average daily consumption is around 5gms and it only takes 1gm to elevate LDL (lousy cholesterol) levels.

Here are a few interesting facts that I have found out about the hydrogenated fats that are now such a huge part of our modern day lifestyle.

Western diets have always contained a relatively large amount of red meat; in fact evidence very strongly suggests that we ate only raw meat and fish from the very start of our existence.

In 1978 a Dr. Mary Enig proved that cancer rates were directly related to consumption of vegetable oils (including hydrogenated fats) and total fat intake, but NOT related to animal fat consumption. This has since been confirmed by other researchers who have undertaken very in depth studies.

Ischemic heart disease was virtually unknown until the 1940’s when hydrogenated fats were introduced.

Little or no research was undertaken before introducing hydrogenated fats into our diet as to the long-term effects they might have. In the last few years however, compelling evidence proves the negative effects of hydrogenated fats, especially for coronary heart disease. In fact it has been proved that it has the exact same effect as saturated fats on heart disease and in addition they raise the levels of LDL in the blood to a far greater extent than saturated fats whilst actively reducing the healthy cholesterol, HDL.

Hydrogenated fats are synthesised plastics that bear no relation to natural fats from plants or animals.

When the dangers were realised the food manufacturing industry began a marketing campaign that is still prevalent today that amplified the dangers of eating animal fats and promoted the healthy benefits of eating processed foods with LOW Fat contents.

How does Hydrogenation work?

Trans fatty acids or hydrogenated fats are created when manufacturers turn liquid oils into solid fats. They do this by forcing hydrogen at a very high temperature (250-400degrees C) and pressure into the liquid oils usually with a catalyst such as nickel or platinum over a period of several hours. The hydrogen atoms attach themselves to the molecules in the liquid oil resulting in an unnatural mixture that becomes a trans fatty acid or hydrogenated fat.

Why do they do this when they could us natural plant oils and animal fats in their products?

Solid fat is easier to work with in food manufacture than liquid – think about making cakes, biscuits and pastry.
Shelf life is increased; one of the reasons they believe is that bacteria is too intelligent to eat the stuff so leave it alone.
It provides a cheaper source of fats for their products.

What about the impact on our bodies of consuming excessive amounts of hydrogenated fats?

We rely on a certain amount of fat in our diet to provide us with many nutrients that are essential for our growth and metabolism. B vitamins are essential for our health and are present in both animal protein and plant sources – if your entire diet comprises processed foods produced with this artificial fat then you will not be consuming sufficient of these nutrients. Vitamin E, which is in olive oil in abundance, is essential for fighting the effects of free radicals. This is another vital nutrient that would be lacking in your diet. Folate (growth and healthy cell reproduction), Biotin (normal growth, skin, hair, nerves and bone marrow health), Vitamin D (bone growth and balancing minerals such as calcium), Choline (brain health) Inositol (calcium metabolism and insulin) and Co-Enzyme Q10 (anti-oxidant and energy production) are just some of the nutrients that would be lacking in a totally processed food diet.

What foods are hydrogenated fats mainly found in?

The most common is of course margerines and other spreads that are not pure butter. They are hidden in most processed foods such as soups, crisps, crackers, biscuits, bread, pastries, pizza and even some cereals.

If you are buying pre-cooked fried foods it will more than likely have been prepared in hydrogenated fats such as Fish and chips, Fried chicken etc.

So do we stop eating all these foods that contain hydrogenated fats?

To be honest that would be virtually impossible. However, over the last nine months I have encouraged everyone who is following the healthy eating plan to dramatically reduce their intake of all processed foods. The emphasis has been on eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables with lean meat fish and poultry all prepared with home made sauces made from fresh ingredients.

That is a very good start. I use butter sparingly because there is no doubt that saturated fats if eaten in excess will have an effect on your general weight and health.

You cannot cut processed food out completely but do try and limit your intake. As I keep repeating – look at your labels when you are buying foods and think about what has actually gone into the manufacture of this particular delicacy is it real or manufactured?

Last year I teamed up with Carol Taylor for a six month series on Cooking from Scratch using fresh produce. I also included the health properties of the main ingredient to demonstrate how powerful an individual food can be.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/cook-from-scratch-with-sally-and-carol-recipes/

We unfortunately have moved out of the kitchen into the supermarket for convenience and if we went back to my Grandfather’s lifestyle, every biscuit or cake he had with his afternoon tea was home-made using butter and eggs straight from the farm. His lifestyle was a combination of physical activity walking several miles per day and natural food products.

Simple really.

Next time the good fats and in particular Omega- 3 one of the Essential Fatty Acids.

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

Turning Back The Clock Serialisation – Chapter Three – The Hormone Factor


This week’s chapter is very relevant as during the week I have been looking at Vitamin B3 and cholesterol. Cholesterol is essential for the production of hormones as well as our brain health and other important functions. Whilst having too much of one kind of cholesterol is not healthy for our arteries or heart a balance of all kinds is essential B3 and cholesterol

As we age our reproductive hormones naturally decrease but they do not disappear and they still need the ingredients necessary to produce them. This requires that we maintain a diet that provides those nutrients. I know that this chapter is quite lengthy but please feel free to save to read later.

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CHAPTER THREE – THE HORMONE FACTOR

Isn’t it inevitable that all hormone levels are going to drop as we get older, and will we all be affected?

Most of us, when we talk about hormones, are usually referring to the reproductive ones such as testosterone, progesterone and oestrogen.

We all know that as we get older our reproductive hormones decrease and both men and women go through a menopause. Women are more affected by this, obviously, but men too experience a decrease in testosterone levels and the changes that this brings about.

However, our sex hormones are just three of the many hormones that are produced in our bodies and even though our reproductive abilities may decrease as we get older, the hormones involved are still active within our body. If they, and our other hormones, are looked after they will contribute to a healthy, energetic and youthful appearance. Sex does not stop when we get middle aged it just gets more creative and interesting.

I am not going to cover every form of hormone but it is important to remember that all hormones produced by the body are for a specific reason. They ensure that the complex processes within our bodies are working efficiently. When these processes are not working at an optimum level there is a breakdown in function over time, and damage and aging will take place.

What are hormones exactly?

Hormones are some of the most powerful chemicals to be found in the body. They are bio-chemicals produced in special glands and then carried in the bloodstream to other glands, or cells, where they give instructions that activate certain processes.

They are secreted by a number of different glands such as the Pituitary, Adrenal, Thyroid, Pancreas, Ovaries, Testes and Pineal. Each gland may produce one or more different hormone to affect a process in the body. For example; the Pancreas secretes Insulin, Glucagon and Stomostatin. Insulin and glucagon are secreted according to the level of blood sugar and Stomostatin is the referee to ensure that not too much of either is secreted and that blood sugar levels remain balanced as a result.

Hormones are manufactured from components of food, which means that the type of diet you follow has a major impact on keeping hormone levels in balance! Hormones are either protein-like as in insulin, or fat-like as in steroid hormones.

Since our primary focus is on maintaining our health; through eating an optimum diet, we need to concentrate on providing the body with the most perfect environment for hormone balance and therefore lack of stress; which leads to damage and disease.

The hormone functions I am going to cover are Metabolism, Blood Sugar Levels and Stress Response because these, combined with low levels of the sex hormones Testosterone, Progesterone and Oestrogen, are some of the leading causes of aging.

Whatever the level of hormones produced by particular glands, if they are not communicating when they get to their destinations (such as the Thyroid Gland, Kidneys or Ovaries, they will not be effective – and the on-going functions they are supposed to stimulate will be disrupted.

How do we create the perfect environment?

Well, a good start is to be following a diet which is primarily sourced from all natural ingredients, is low in refined sugars and contains healthy fats. Being near a healthy weight will also help. There are certain foods that are very nutrient dense which are very important in creating the right atmosphere for hormones to work efficiently in balance.

One of the most important food sources is Essential Fatty Acids which are Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids (polyunsaturated fatty acids). The body must have these essential fatty acids, yet cannot make them itself.

One of the main functions of essential fatty acids is the production of prostaglandins which are hormone-like substances that regulate many body functions. Basically, they control every cell of the body on a second-by-second basis by acting as interpreters between the hormones and the cells they are being delivered to. As far as aging is concerned they are required for energy production, increasing oxidation and metabolic rates. Energy levels go up with high stamina with decreased recovery time from fatigue.

Prostaglandins are particularly important in the way that they balance all hormones including the reproductive ones. You also need to note that the brain does not function without essential fatty acids.

Monounsaturated fats are also important, as both these types of fats protect brain cells and the membranes and ensure effective passing of nutrients within the brain.

This last point is particularly important, because when we talk about hormones we tend to ignore the power behind the throne, which is the Hypothalamus. The other name of the Hypothalamus is actually the word Homeostasis, which means balance, which is very appropriate. It is located in the middle of the base of the brain and is connected to the Pituitary lobes, which form the most important gland in the body.

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

So, when we talk about hormones we need to talk about brain health as a priority.

Apart from essential fatty acids – what else does the brain need to function?

I am sure that it is no surprise that I am going to say FLUIDS are essential for adequate brain function. Dehydration causes to cells to dry up and die but also prevents the nutrients and oxygen reaching the brain, uphill through the carotid artery.

Headaches, nervousness, dizziness and nausea are all symptoms that the brain is dehydrated. That’s what you get when you drink too much coffee and alcohol and get a hangover. They are mild diuretics that can drain the body including organs such as the brain, of fluid. Additionally, every organ in the body, including the brain, has a pH balance that needs to be maintained. Without fluid the brain can become too acidic and damage occurs as I explained in the previous chapter on acidity and alkalinity.

B vitamins are critical for the brain.

B1 (Thiamine) essential for the nervous system.

B2 (Riboflavin) works with Vitamin C to help the Adrenal glands and therefore energy levels.

B3, (Niacin) assists Tryptophan in making Serotonin and the formation of the steroid hormones and for warding off senility.

B5 (Pantothenic acid) is required for making neurotransmitter chemicals and for steroid hormones Testosterone and Oestrogen, B6 (Pyridoxine) Serotonin manufacture, sleep patterns,

B12 (Cyanocolbalamin) essential for proper functioning of the nervous system.

Vitamin C a powerful antioxidant that protects the brain from free-radical damage but also works with other vitamins and minerals in a number of vital processes.

Vitamin E which helps increase circulation of oxygen and glucose rich blood to the brain. As an antioxidant it also protects brain cells from damage and destruction. It also protects the essential fatty acids and the Prostaglandins from oxidising (more next week)

Tryptophan that works with B3 and B6 particularly to manufacture Serotonin and Melatonin in the brain.

Calcium which calms the brain and assists in sleeping (hot milk at night). Magnesium to help Calcium work and to help calm panic attacks.

Phenylalanine an antidepressant nutrient that also stimulates memory.

Zinc, which has a calming effect on the brain function and with vitamin C, protects the membranes.

What part do amino acids play in hormone production?

Amino acids are the building blocks that make up proteins, which of course is what we are made of. Vitamins and minerals can’t perform their specific functions effectively if the necessary amino acids are not present. Amino acids are either classified as essential or non-essential. The non-essential ones can be manufactured in our bodies but the essential amino acids have to be obtained from food.

All hormones require amino acids for their production. For example L-Arginine encourages growth hormones and constitutes 80% of semen, which is why a deficiency causes sterility and is also essential for prostate health. L-Tryptophan helps in the production of Serotonin and Melatonin and helps to control emotional behaviour. L-Glutamine is helpful for Thyroid gland function. Taurine is used for hyperactivity and poor brain function.

What about the health of the other hormone producing glands?

Most of the above applies throughout the body. A diet rich in antioxidants such as Vitamin A, C and E and essential fatty acids and amino acids will promote health everywhere. Having created a near perfect working environment for the bosses (the Hypothalamus and the Pituitary), we can turn our attention to the health of the Thyroid (metabolism, energy and growth) Adrenal Gland (sex drive, stress response and metabolism) and Pancreas (Blood sugar levels). If these organs are producing the hormones they are supposed to in the right quantities many of the problems we associate with old age would be much more manageable. Including energy and the ability to process our nutrients efficiently keeping us away from degenerative disease such as arthritis.

How can we take care of the thyroid?

The Thyroid needs Iodine and Selenium to produce an enzyme, which converts the amino acid Tyrosine into Thyroxine. If Thyroxine is at a less than optimum level there will be weight gain, fatigue, intestinal problems and thickening skin. This gland also produces a hormone that is responsible for calcium balance between blood and bones. If this is not working then too much calcium is leached from the bones leaving, them vulnerable to osteoporosis.

What function does the adrenal gland have?

The Adrenal gland is actually in two parts the cortex (male characteristics, sex drive, stress response, metabolism and the excretion of Sodium and Potassium from the kidneys). The Medulla, which produces the Adrenaline for metabolism and the fight or flight stress response.

If your stress levels remain high for long periods of time there will be an effect on the rest of your body. The body slows down digestion, maintenance and repair so that it is ready to run at any moment. It definitely speeds up the aging process because, like anything that is not maintained and is under stress, it slowly deteriorates. It will have a very big impact on all the rest of the hormones in the body including your sex drive – which is why stress plays a very important role in problems such as impotence.

A note here that if you have food intolerances you will be in a constant state of stress as the body deals with the invader. It will put a great deal of strain on the entire body, contributing to aging, which is why following a rotational eating plan (healthy eating programme) will help.

All the B vitamins, as well as Vitamin C, are necessary for the Adrenal glands as these are the nutrients that the body uses up most when in a stress reaction. Therefore they need to be replaced.

The Pancreas – Insulin production and blood sugar levels. What nutrients are needed for that to function healthily?

Like any of the hormonal glands, all of the nutrients that we have already mentioned are going to help the pancreas function better. In addition, it is important to follow some guidelines about eating certain foods that are going to stress the gland and put excess sugar into the bloodstream in addition to that made by the body.

So it is important to avoid too much refined carbohydrates and sugar (follow the healthy eating programme)

You should not eat too much saturated fat. Do not drink too many stimulants such as coffee and alcohol; be at a reasonable weight.

How about the food sources for the essential nutrients that are required to balance the hormones?

Essential Fatty acids

olives

Omega 3. Flaxseed oil, walnuts, pumpkinseeds, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds, avocados, dark green vegetables such as spinach, salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, tuna.

Omega 6. Flaxseed oil, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, olive oil, evening primrose oil, chicken.

Omega 9. Olive oil, olives, avocado, almonds, sesame oil, pecans, pistachio, cashews.

Heat and oxygen destroy essential fatty acids so keep oils in dark glass containers.

vegetables

Antioxidants are found in all fresh fruit and vegetables and if you are eating 50% to 60% you will be doing great.

salmon

B vitamins. Apricots, avocado, brown rice, carrots, chicken, eggs, whole grains, lambs kidney and liver, melon, nuts, oats, oily fish, potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, spinach, all salad vegetables and yoghurt.

Amino acids are found in proteins either animal or vegetable. Main sources are Soya beans, peas, beans, whole grains like brown rice, dairy products, poultry, lean meats and eggs.

At the moment I am working through the B vitamins in my weekly posts in more detail and you can find these here.

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

©SallyGeorginaCronin Turning Back the Clock 2013

I hope you are finding the serialisation of my book interesting and helpful and I would be delighted to have your feedback and also grateful if you could share.

 

Smorgasbord Health – The circulatory System – Eat your Omegas and Shitakes


Before we move onto the fascinating sequel to the circulatory system, “The Blood”, I just want to finish up with some specific foods and their nutrients which will provide your blood vessels with the essential ingredients to repair themselves, remain flexible and plaque free.

If you are already following my recommended diet of high levels of natural foods, ‘cooked from scratch’, including whole grains, fruit, vegetables and lean protein you will be providing your body with most of the essential elements necessary for a healthy circulatory system. More importantly if only 20% of your diet comprises the processed, high sugar types of food you are on the right track.

However, as we do get a bit older it is quite important to pay particular attention to those nutrients and foods that preserve our body since we get less efficient in extracting what the body needs from our normal diet. Taking extra supplementation is not always successful as our bodies are not designed to process that either. So upping the amounts of specific foods is the right way to go.

The components that are the most essential for blood-vessel health include Vitamin C for collagen production and nutrients that keep the blood-vessels clear of plaque, debris and keep the blood flowing as it should through the body.

Collagen

Most diseases that are related to the integrity of the blood-vessel walls are partly due to a lack of effective collagen. Collagen is not just responsible for keeping the elastic sheath around blood-vessels healthy but also our tendons, cartilage, gums and our immune system.

Collagen is one of thousands of proteins in the human body. Most proteins are only in small amounts but collagen is present in the skin, bones, teeth, blood-vessels, eyes, and heart as well as in our connective tissues such as tendons.

Collagen, as you can imagine, is in constant use and needs a very high maintenance programme to replace and repair itself. To keep up with this rate of repair we need to take in a great deal of Vitamin C on a continuous basis because not only is the Vitamin C essential in the manufacture of collagen but also gets destroyed in the process.

oranges

Vitamin C

An interesting fact emerged when long term prisoners of war were examined on their release. A vast majority were discovered to be suffering from severe Vitamin C deficiency but also unexpectedly very high levels of fatty deposits (atherosclerosis) which was unlikely to have come from eating a high fat diet. It is therefore very likely that the two are connected, giving a further reason for including Vitamin C in generous amounts in your diet.

Vitamin C is also needed to protect us from cardiovascular disease, cancers, joint disease and cataracts. It is a fantastic antioxidant that is specific to the health of our blood-vessels because of its prevention of oxidation of LDL (lousy cholesterol) leading to plaque and narrowed and hardened arteries.

Vitamin C is found in most fruit and vegetables and one of the best reasons for including more than the recommended ration of five portions per day.

I would suggest three to four portions of vegetables per day and three to four portions of fruit. Vitamin C is very sensitive to air, water and temperature and about a quarter of the Vitamin C in fruit or vegetables is lost in steaming or boiling them for just a few minutes. If you over cook vegetables, or cook them for longer than 15 minutes, you will lose over half the Vitamin C content. Canned fruit and vegetables that are then reheated end up with only a third of their original nutrient value which is why eating as many fruits and vegetables as possible – in their raw state – is the only really effective way to get the amount of this vital vitamin that you need.

The side effect of improving your collagen production is that your face will benefit as you get older by being smoother and more elastic. Less Botox expense!

What other nutrients should we include to help maintain our blood-vessel health?

A balanced diet will help your body protect itself but there are certain nutrients that have a particular responsibility for keeping our blood flowing as it should through healthy arteries and veins.

salmon

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are necessary fats that humans cannot synthesise and must be obtained through diet. There are two families of EFAs Omega-3 and Omega-6. Another variety, Omega-9, is also necessary but is classified as “non- essential” as the body can make it if the other two fatty acids are present.

EFAs are essential because they support our cardiovascular, reproductive, immune and nervous systems. We need these fats to manufacture and repair cells, maintain hormone levels and expel waste from the body. Although they are important for other functions in the body, such as fertility, they play a major role in the process that regulates blood pressure and blood clotting, making them an important addition to our diet if we are at risk from circulatory conditions.

Omega-3 (Linolenic Acid) is the principal Omega-3 fatty acid and is used in the formation of cell walls, improving circulation and oxygen absorption. A deficiency can lead to decreased immune system function, elevated levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat.

nuts and seeds

Omega-6 (Linoleic Acid) is the primary Omega-6 fatty acid. Omega-6 can improve rheumatoid arthritis, PMS, and skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis.

There is growing evidence that the non-essential Oleic acid, Omega‑9, may help to lower cholesterol by decreasing the unhealthy cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein), while at the same time raising the level of healthy cholesterol, HDL (high density lipoprotein).

Oleic acid is also emerging as a regulator of blood-sugar levels and as a possible protection against breast and prostate cancer. So, including half an avocado in your diet every day may well protect you from the harmful long-term effects of a number of diseases.

The B-vitamins

wholegrains

B-Vitamins play a role in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system in general but Vitamin B3 (niacin) B6, B12 and folic acid are of particular interest.

Vitamin B3 plays a critical role in the chemical processing of fats in the body and although B3 is required for production of cholesterol by the liver, the vitamin has repeatedly been used to successfully lower total blood cholesterol. It has yet to be proved whether including B3 rich foods in your diet will also reduce cholesterol levels, but it would appear that the vitamin has a component that may help balance the amount that is produced and present in the blood at any given time. As I mentioned in my post yesterday on safe sun absorption, Vitamin B3 could be effective in the prevention and treatment of certain skin cancers.

Homocysteine is an amino acid in the blood. Too much of it is related to a higher risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and atherosclerosis (fatty deposits in the arteries) leading to damage of the inner linings of the arteries and promoting blood clots.

There is increasing evidence that lowered levels of Folic acid, B6 and B12 are linked to higher levels of homocysteine and therefore the risk of strokes and heart attacks. Including them in your diet is easy if you are not vegetarian and may require supplementation if you don’t include animal products in your diet. This is why giving up whole grains completely which is one of the new trends in diet advice can impact your levels of B vitamins.

Fibre, particularly in the form of beta-glucan helps keep your arteries clear of debris and plaque. Including oats, brown rice, as well as your daily rations of fruit and vegetables, will provide you with adequate amounts of this type of carbohydrate.

Best food sources for these nutrients and for fibre

This is not the complete list of foods that contain the appropriate nutrients but they are some of the best sources available.

  • Avocado for essential fatty acids Omega 3 and Omega 9.
  • Banana has fibre too, which helps clear the system of debris and keeps the arteries clean. Also contains B6 for lowering homocysteine levels.
  • Beef (lean) for its protein and B6 and B12.
  • Broccoli for high levels of Vitamin C and folate.
  • Brown rice helps keep your cholesterol down and your arteries healthy with its fibre.
  • Calf’s liver for B3, B6 and B12 and folate.
  • Cauliflower and red bell peppers for high levels of Vitamin C
  • Chicken and Turkey for B3 and B6 and Omega 6.
  • Cow’s milk and yoghurt for B12
  • Fruits in general for their Vitamin C and fibre.
  • Green tea with its antioxidant, which inhibits the enzymes that produce free radicals in the lining of the arteries. This not only prevents plaque from forming but also improves the ratio of LDL (lousy cholesterol) to HDL (healthy cholesterol)
  • Halibut for B3, B6 and B12
  • Kiwi fruit, papaya and strawberries for high levels of Vitamin C
  • Lamb for B3 and B12
  • Lentils and beans for low fat protein and folate.
  • Oats with their fibre called beta-glucan which helps lower cholesterol and prevents plaque from forming in your arteries.
  • Olive oil and olives for Omega 6 and Omega 9.
  • Onions and garlic which contain sulphur compounds that along with B6 and chromium help lower homocysteine levels in the blood
  • Oranges with their Vitamin C and fibre.
  • Pumpkinseeds and other seeds for Omega 3 and Omega 6.
  • Salmon with its Omega 3, B3 and B6 and B12
  • Scallops and shrimp for B12
  • Shitake mushrooms for B3 and B12 and Eritadenine, which lowers cholesterol levels.
  • Spinach and asparagus and very green vegetables for the folate to help reduce homocysteine levels, Vitamin C and Omega 3
  • Tuna for Omega 3, B3 and B6
  • All vegetables are rich in anti-oxidants, which remove free radicals from the system and also promote the growth of healthy cells and tissue.
  • Venison with low fat protein and B3, B6 and B12.
  • Walnuts and other nuts Omega 3, 6 and 9 and B6
  • Whole grains for fibre and B3.

Including the above foods several times a week will help you protect not only your circulatory system but also your heart and the health of all your major organs that rely solely on the nutrient and oxygen packed blood that is brought to them by the system.

If you have any questions that might be useful for other readers of the post then please include in the comments section.. If you would like to ask something more personal then please contact me sally(dot)cronin(at)moyhill.com.

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©sallycronin Just Food For Health 2009