Smorgasbord Health Column – The major Organs and systems of the body – The Immune System and how it works by Sally Cronin


Like most things in life there are two sides to every story, which means there are the good guys and the bad guys. When it comes to our health this involves healthy bacteria and dangerous bacteria.

All creatures, including of course humans, have an amazingly complex but effective system to distinguish between the two, and to ensure that we don’t come to harm. It is our Immune System.

This system has been evolving over hundreds of thousands of years and developing strategies to protect us every time it met with a new threat. This is often; as germs mutate when they meet resistance and our software needs frequent updating.

The majority of the bacteria in our body is designed to be there. These are the friendlies and our home defence team. Without a gut teeming with them many of our systems would grind to a halt, our brains would not function and our blood would uselessly circulate our bodies without anything to transport. Our food would not be processed and nutrients would not reach the organs that depend entirely on them to survive.

Along with the worker bacterial cells there are the front line soldiers who rush to our defence when we are under attack. Provided we have a healthy diet of unprocessed natural foods these fighters are in enough numbers to do the job. However, throw sugars and industrial food into the equation along with laziness and you rob your immune system of this vital defence component and you are open to attack.

One of the issues that is also playing a huge part in our downgrading of our anti-virus software is the overuse of commercial anti-bacterial products.  Not only can the active ingredients be harmful to us, but if too strong, their actions can prevent us coming into contact with bacteria needed for our immune systems to detect or develop andidotes.

Having said that, children need to be exposed to non-lethal germs from an early age to develop their immature immune systems effectively.  Living in a home that is 99% germ free is a great concept but the world outside is 99% germ invested.  A child needs to be able to cope with that, and can only do so if its defence system has been allowed to come up to standard.

In the posts on the immune system I will be looking at how it works and what it needs to do so effectively.

In this post  I will cover the components of this complex defence mechanism, how it works and how to maintain its efficiency with some changes in diet.

It is a system that is usually taken for granted and treated with disrespect until it lets us down, and then we blame it for making us ill.  In fact if we have not provided this vital function within our body, the foods containing the nutrients it requires; it is us who is to blame. Many millions in the world do not have access to fresh produce and are unable to give their immune systems what it needs, causing widespread disease. This means that it is even more important for those of us who do live with the luxury of food choice to make the most of it.

Without an efficiently functioning immune system we would all have to spend our lives in a bubble without any contact with the outside world. Ever. One minor infection could kill you!

There have been a number of cases over the years of children born with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID). They have been forced to spend their lives separated by clear plastic from their family and any contact with bacteria or viruses. Today, thankfully with gene therapy, this devastating disease is curable, but for some a normal life is simply not possible.

The immune system is another one of our silent partners and is an extremely important one. Our most crucial years in terms of this amazing system in our body, is our childhood, when our contact with people, animals, grass, pollens, foods; develops the immune system until it becomes our guardian angel. Watching and waiting for any breach in our system and rushing to our defence within seconds of the alarm being sounded. (Anyone who has had a child going to nursery or school for the first time will have experienced first-hand the process, as the mass contact produces a whole raft of immune system strengthening infections!) It is however, never too late to make the changes necessary to strengthen your immune system.

In a nutshell if your immune system is not functioning well, your entire body including the tissues, organs and systems, suffer damage and cannot repair themselves. Additionally you are wide open to bacterial, viral and toxic invaders who are looking for a nesting site. You have what they need to reproduce and thrive but they like to make some adjustments when they arrive. They like a lovely acidic, toxic, waste filled environment without too much oxygen. (A rubbish diet with little exercise will achieve that nicely)

They are particularly fond of a new home that does not have troublesome neighbours such as anti-oxidants and they prefer a quiet life without too much exercise so that they get on and breed. They are a class act and make sure that they give you something back in the form of rent. Frequent colds and flu, thrush, skin complaints, fatigue and stomach problems. If you are a really up market landlord and are offering premium accommodation they will pay you back with arthritis, rheumatism, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and cancer.

The immune system is not involved in just our internal defences. It actually has a pretty formidable array of physical barriers that are designed to keep pathogens, which is all harmful substances out of our bodies.

Our first line of defence

The skin is our main external protector. If it is not damaged it will not allow harmful substances to enter the blood stream. The problem is that of course it is porous and is designed to allow fluids out and in through the pores. So any substance that touches your skin such as chemical preparations can pass right through. For example if you use strong household cleaners these contain highly toxic substances that will pass through the dermal layer and store in the tissues causing anything to a mild rash to a violent allergic reaction. This is why you must wear gloves when using them. Many of us react to perfume, cosmetics or even simple hand creams that our body obviously thinks of as toxic. If you cut yourself then germs can pass through directly to the bloodstream and from there they have complete access to the rest of your body.

We have special hairs and mucus tissues in our nose, mouth and throat that are designed to catch anything harmful.   If a toxin gets as far as our stomachs, then acid and enzymes will react and cause you to vomit to get rid of it. Should any harmful bacteria, virus or toxin get past these barriers then we have a very complex system of cells and anti-bodies that will rush to our defence. Most of us have suffered stomach upsets before and it is just the body getting rid of the toxins. (More about these in a later post.)

The liver is of course the place where most of these toxins are going to pass through, and it has specific enzymes designed to destroy them so that they can then be evicted from the body. Which is fine if the toxicity is only occasional but unfortunately our modern diet and environment puts the liver under a great deal of pressure and toxins will not all be expelled, going on to do sometimes irreparable damage.

Free radicals running riot through the body.

If you cut an apple and effectively damage it, within a few minutes it will begin to turn brown. If you leave it long enough the tissue of the apple will begin to break down and you will end up with a liquid, bacteria covered and unidentifiable lump on your cutting board. That just about sums up what free radical damage does to your body. We bandy about the phrase Free Radicals as if they are some dissident political group or school yard bullies which is essentially true. Like most bullies they are missing something and want yours.

A free radical is a molecule. A normal molecule has an even number of electrons and is considered stable. Free radicals on the other hand have an uneven number of electrons and are unstable. They are desperate to be like the normal molecules so they have to steal from them to get another electron. This of course means that they have created another free radical. More and more cells become damaged and leave the body open to most diseases including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Like the apple the damage is a kind of oxidation, which is the action of adding oxygen to a substance or rusting and when I wrote about cholesterol, it was the low density lipoprotein with its smaller particles that becomes oxidised by free radicals making it unhealthy.

Do Free Radicals have a positive effect on the body?

Ironically the immune system uses some free radicals to go and steal an electron from harmful molecules that have entered the system illegally. Problem is, like everything else in the body we need balances and checks. The Free Radical police are anti-oxidants and if you have not got enough of them then the free radicals become vigilantes and go after everything that moves.

Also we create free radicals when we exercise energetically and take in additional oxygen. These then assist with the metabolism of foods that enter the body. Again if the balance between these and anti-oxidants is not correct more free radicals are created than are needed. This is why we need a healthy diet including foods that provide these anti-oxidants.

vegetablesThose of you who read my articles on a regular basis know what is coming next!… To boost your immune system there are some very easy guidelines to follow.

  1. Cut out sugars from your diet so that you are only ingesting a maximum of 6 teaspoons per day in cooked foods and as a sweetener. Effectively, that means do not eat industrial processed foods, particularly items such as breakfast cereals and most commercial flavoured yogurts. Do not be taken in by low-fat food and those that say artificially sweetened. The chemical stuff is definitely unhealthy and has documented side effects. Too much sugar in the system provides a wonderful environment for all toxic pathogens and your immune system will only be able to stand on the side lines as its defence team fights a losing battle.
  2. Industrially produced foods have been through a machine, rarely has many natural ingredients and has chemical additives. If it is wrapped in plastic, comes in a packet or has very attractive cardboard advertising then treat with suspicion. Most of the time your immune system will spend more time dealing with the toxins than your digestive system will take to consume and process. If after the main ingredients you have a long list of additives and E numbers…. skip it.
  3. Drink sufficient fluids to help toxins pass out of the body. If you are one of those who boast that you manage on a cup or two of tea a day and that you get all the fluids you need from the food you eat; think again. We lose moisture when we exhale, through our skin and when we pee, which adds up to between 1.5 to 2 litres per day. You cannot replenish that from food alone and if you pinch the skin on the back of your hand and it is slow to resume its normal smooth appearance then you are dehydrated. This will impact how your immune system functions.
  4. Adopt the 80/20 rule for your diet. 80% all fresh natural produce that has been grown, picked or dug up out of the ground. The brighter the colour the better. I know that having a busy work and personal life makes this daunting sometimes but I use frozen vegetables all the time.. Especially out of season. The only foods that I usually prefer to prepare myself are carrots, potatoes and sweet potato as the frozen ones do not taste as good. Also economically onions are much better non-frozen but I do in bulk and they keep in the fridge for a week. Green vegetables particularly are very good these days and if you are really in a hurry get a good quality mixed veg bag.
  5.  Combine with good quality protein that has not been mass farmed (farm shops are great) and moderate intake of grains and whilst I enjoy my whole grains I have developed a taste of fresh sourdough bread which has additives (you know it goes stale in 24 hours)also Basmati rice. (Carbohydrates are treated like sugar by the body so moderation is the key) . Milk, Butter, Eggs and Olive Oil should also be part of your nutritional shopping list as they provide vitamins and minerals as well as Omega Fatty Acids to boost your entire system.
  6. Follow my ‘Cook From Scratch’ approach to eating. That includes sauces so that you have minimum industrially manufactured produce in the diet. (I hesitate to call it food)
  7.  20% of your diet is where the Red Wine, Dark Chocolate and occasional Guinness comes in!

Next time – ignorance is not bliss.. your body is your only real asset and its well-being should be your primary concern.

© Sally Cronin Justfoodforhealth 1998 -2019

My nutritional background

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

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction in ebooks you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

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

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

Thanks for dropping in and please help spread the word by sharing..Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Cook from Scratch with Sally and Carol Taylor – Onions and Garlics – Keep the Vampires and the doctor away!


I will be resharing some of our joint Cook from Scratch posts that Carol Taylor and I posted last year.. And since it is Halloween... it seems appropriate to give you plenty of reasons to liberally consume onions and garlic… it might keep the vampires off you tonight.

Welcome to this week’s post where Carol Taylor and I hope to give you reasons and recipes to include some of nature’s medicine cabinet in your daily diet. Today some really basic vegetables that add taste and nutrition that can help boost your immune system and have been utilised for 1000’s of years by ancient cultures for the treatment of disease.

First I will cover the nutritional elements and the health benefits of these everyday staples and then hand you over to Carol to share some wonderful recipes.

Onions

Despite the current emphasis on healthy eating and weight, not many of us look at a plate of food and separate the ingredients out according to their nutritional or therapeutic benefits.  However, many foods have a long and distinguished history in natural medicine and the inclusion on a regular basis in your diet can bring many benefits.

One of the enormous benefits of living in Spain was the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables available in supermarkets, most of which is sourced from within Spain and the Islands.  Despite my concerns about our modern diet, there is a positive, and that is with vastly improved transport links and methods, the same foods can be enjoyed in most countries in Europe.

Although the French may lay claim to being the ‘Onion Kings’, Spanish onions are well known for their pungent and flavourful addition to cooking around the world.

Onions and garlic fit well into the category of ‘Superfood’ as they are both nutritional and can influence health in a very positive way.

Despite any claims to the contrary, onions (Allium cepa) originated from Asia and the Middle East and have been grown for over 5,000 years.  They were even used by the Egyptians as a weekly wage for the workers who built the pyramids, not something they would get away with today.  They were sent into the afterlife with Pharaohs and used in this life by many different cultures to prevent a premature passage to the other side.  The Israelites apparently wandered the wilderness longing for the onions, leeks and garlic that they had left behind in Egypt, something to think about when you next pass them in the grocery section of the supermarket.

The onion is part of the Lily family, which includes garlic, leeks, welsh onions and chives.  The word onion comes from the old English word unyun derived from the French word oignon, which in turn came from the Latin unio.  There are words for the vegetable in ancient languages but none seems to be related to each other indicating how widespread the use of the vegetable was.

Onions have been used for thousands of years as a seasoning for otherwise bland food and today we can buy them all year round and use them raw or cooked in a wide variety of dishes.

Health benefits of onions.

The onion has a powerful sulphur-containing compound, which is responsible for the pungent odour and for the health benefits.  Onions contain allyl propyl disulphide, chromium, Vitamin C and flavonoids, the most beneficial being Quercitin.

Allyl propyl disulphide lowers blood sugar levels by competing with insulin, which is also a disulphide for space in the liver where insulin is normally deactivated.  This results in an increase in the amount of insulin available to move glucose into cells causing a lowering of blood sugar.

Chromium is a mineral that also helps cells respond efficiently to insulin, which in turn decreases blood sugar levels.  These two properties in the onion make it a vegetable worth including in our daily diet as we get older to help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Chromium has also been shown to improve glucose tolerance, lower insulin levels, and decrease total cholesterol levels whilst increasing levels of the healthy cholesterol (HDL).

The reduction in unhealthy cholesterol levels leads to reductions in blood pressure levels, which is of course a leading cause of cardiovascular disease. Eating onions with other foods with high levels of Bioflavonoids (tea, apples, broccoli, cranberry juice etc.) has been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease

Quercitin combined with Vitamin C work together to kill bacteria, which is why they are so valuable added to soups and stews during the cold and flu season.

There are other areas where eating onions regularly can reduce your risk on developing degenerative and sometimes life threatening diseases.  These include Colon cancer, Osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and other inflammatory diseases.

An exciting area of research into bone health has identified that a compound in onions with a mile long name but GPCS for short, may inhibit the activity of osteoclasts, which are the cells that break down bone.

Onions also contain healthy amounts of other nutrients such as manganese, Vitamin B6, tryptophan, Folate, potassium, phosphorus and copper making onions a well-rounded nutrient source.

Garlic

garlicThe garlic is a multi-bulb cousin to the onion.  Again originating in Asia it has been used for thousands of years as a pungent additive to food but also as a healing agent.  In recent years, its reputation has been validated by hundreds of research studies and like the onion; it is worth including in your diet very regularly.

Garlic contains many helpful compounds including thiosulfinates such as allicin, sulphates including alliin and dithins the most researched being ajoene.

Research has identified that garlic lowers blood pressure, decreases the ability of platelets to clump together forming clots, reduces blood levels of lousy cholesterol (LDL) whilst increasing levels of healthy cholesterol (HDL).  It also helps our blood vessels relax which prevents atherosclerosis, heart disease and the risks of heart attacks and strokes.

Garlic, like the onion is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. With the current concerns that we have about potential ‘Super bugs’ it is interesting that garlic appears to be an effective antibiotic, even against some of these resistant strains.

Cancer protection is essential for all of us.  The compound ajoene might be effective in the treatment of skin cancer and eating two or more servings a week of garlic may help prevent colon cancer.

Allicin has also been researched in regard to weight loss, as there is some indications that in the laboratory at least, that this compound may inhibit weight gain.

As in the case of most spicy and pungent foods ‘less is more’ with this particular flavouring especially if you wish to maintain close relationships with family and friends.

Now it is time to hand over to Carol Taylor, who as usual, has been working very hard this week to turn these two nutritious ingredients into wonderful recipes.

Onions and Garlic every day.. keep the Vampire… and the doctor away!

Onions and garlic…Not as easy as it first seems as I use onions and or garlic in practically every dish I make on a daily basis….

But making the Onion or the garlic the hero of the dish as all these cookery programmes like to say…Is much harder than first thought…

Cooking head on and into the kitchen…first job though is to get my ham on…There is nothing like Home cured ham but after teasing you with the thought that recipe unless you trawl through my archives is for another day….lol.

Onions…. Do you know your onions???? Sally has given us the low down at the beginning of this post and the health benefits of the onion…I would say most people use the onion every day as part of their cooking whether it is shallots, red onion, brown onions, spring onions( green onions) so many varieties.

They can be eaten cooked, raw or pickled.

Lovely with some fresh bread, cheese and either pickled or raw they make a lovely Ploughman’s lunch.

Raw in a cheese and onion sandwich….

Spring onions are lovely in an omelette or quiche… A cheese and onion turnover which is a pastry eaten as a snack.

Who hasn’t has Onion Bhaji with your Indian meal?

Popped into cold water they curl up and look so pretty decorating a green salad.

This stuffed Onion is one I have made many times and it is lovely for a vegetarian and quite special so looks like you have made an effort to cook something nice and tasty. But equally as nice for a light meal with a glass of vino…

Stuffed Onion with goat’s cheese and sun dried tomatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large onions.
  • 150 gm goats cheese
  • 50 gm fresh breadcrumbs ( I use olive oil breadcrumbs)
  • 8 sun dried tomatoes in oil chopped and drained. I am lucky that I live somewhere nice and sunny so I can sundry my own tomatoes please click  HERE to see how.
  • 2 tbsp oil from the sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 small egg, beaten
  • 3 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1/2 Tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 Tsp chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste.

Just reading that list of ingredients makes my mouth water….I am salivating.

Let’s cook

  • Add the onions in their skins to lightly salted boiling water and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the onions from the boiling water, drain and cool. When they are cool enough to handle cut in half and remove skin.
  • Using a small dessert spoon scoop out the centre leaving a thick outer layer… 3 layers are sufficient.
  • Reserve the flesh for later.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 190C/375F
  • Place the onion shells in an oiled oven proof dish.
  • Add all the other ingredients except for the tomato oil and pine nuts to the scooped out onion flesh and season well. Stir in the pine nuts.
  • Divide the mix between the 4 scooped out onion shells and cover the dish with foil.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, remove foil and drizzle with the sun-dried tomato oil cook uncovered for a further 25-35 minutes until bubbling and cooked.
  • Baste occasionally during cooking.
  • And smell…. your kitchen will be filled with such a lovely aroma and even those who are not onion lovers will be salivating…I have had many a convert to this dish.
  • It is lovely just served with warm bread or as a side to some lovely grilled sardines.

Now all of those ingredients have amazing health benefits.

Some lovely variations to this recipe include using Feta cheese instead of goat’s cheese and substitute mint and pitted green/black olives instead of the other ingredients for a real Mediterranean taste. Just stir into the scooped onion mix; you could also add some currants or sultanas.

If you don’t want sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts use 75 gm chopped walnuts add them to the scooped out onion mix add 115 gm chopped celery and cook in a tbsp oil until the celery is soft and put in the onion shell.

Experiment by substituting your own favourite ingredients that is what cooking is all about.
Onions and garlic are also lovely pickled.

Pickled Garlic

Ingredients

  • 8-10 garlic bulbs
  • 500 mls white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 90 gm sugar
  • 1 tsp salt…I always use salt mined here locally or Himalayan salt.
  • 1 tsp per jar of either mustard seed or fennel seeds (optional)
  • 2 x 250-300 ml jars with good lids

Let’s Cook!

Separate the bulbs of garlic into cloves and peel.

In a saucepan bring the vinegar, salt and sugar to the boil, stirring occasionally to make sure the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the garlic cloves to the pickling liquid. Bring it back to the boil and simmer for five minutes.

Transfer the garlic cloves to sterilised jars. Add the mustard or fennel seeds if using. We actually couldn’t decide Fennel or mustard seeds so I normally do some of both they are equal in taste to us. Carefully fill the jars with the hot pickling liquid. Seal.
The garlic will be ready to use in about a week but improves over time.

Pickled onions I have tried many ways and this way seems to produce the crispiest onions and we love a crispy pickled onion…Don’t you?

Pickled Onions. There is nothing like your own crispy pickled onions… I use shallots…But pickling onions are fine.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb Pickling Onions, peeled.
  • 11/2 pints pickling vinegar…I use white vinegar or a mix of apple cider and white vinegar.
  • 2tbls Pickling spices or your mix…again I mix black, white peppercorns, coriander seeds.

Method…2 days before mix 2pts water with 4 oz salt pour over onions, cover and keep in cool place. I keep in the fridge due to the heat here.

Then drain onions and pat dry. Pack into sterilised jars layering pickling spices as you go then pour over vinegar making sure onions are completely covered. Store for 4-6 weeks and they ready…They are the crispest onions I have eaten, far better than shop bought and generally don’t get to 4 weeks let alone 6 weeks as they get dipped into …men!

Pork Belly in Onion Sauce.

This recipe has been handed down through the generations.

I just roast belly pork until it is nearly cooked, then scatter with 2 onions sliced then pour over some white sauce and then pour over some gravy.

I then cook for a further ¾ of an hour until the onions and the white sauce are all bubbling with the gravy. This is very tasty and again my 20% comes into play…lol

Fried Onions.

Ingredients

  • 2 large onions , sliced
  • Milk to soak
  • Flour to dredge onions
  • Oil to fry.

There is nothing like lovely, crispy fried onion with a hot dog or a steak sandwich… Top a lovely Biryani or Indian curry and it is then to die for…That’s healthy gone right out of the window but hey ho….That’s why I follow a 80%/20% diet (not every day)

Just slice those onions and soak them in milk for 5 mins them lightly take them through the flour with a fork and pop into a pan of hot oil…Stirring to brown evenly….

Enjoy!

Baked garlic and shallots with sherry.

This to me is perfection…. Lovely young garlic cloves and beautiful banana shallots… Serve on grilled bread, with a spoonful or two of goat’s curd, or as an accompaniment to a simple roast chicken. Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 garlic bulbs
  • 8 banana shallots
  • 5 lemon thyme sprigs (or ordinary thyme)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 600 ml fresh chicken stock
  • 180 ml sherry
  • 50g unsalted butter, in pieces
  • 50g parmesan, freshly grated
  • Salt and black pepper

Let’s Cook

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.
  • Slice the garlic bulbs in half horizontally and place in a roasting tray. Halve the shallots, slip off their outer skins and add to the garlic. Season, with salt and pepper, and then scatter the lemon thyme and bay leaves over the garlic and shallots…
  • Bring the chicken stock to the boil in a small pan; pour over the garlic and shallots. Drizzle over the sherry.
  • Cover the tray tightly with foil and roast in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes, until the shallots and garlic are golden brown and the stock has reduced down and thickened. Add the butter and parmesan and stir to combine. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and then serve.

Garlic is also a lovely thing infused in Olive oil and is a base for many dishes, a lovely garlic aioli or roasted garlic puree alleviates a dish to new heights. It is such a versatile little bulb as well as being packed with health benefits.

That’s all for now on Onions and garlic…I could go on and on….but I won’t… I hope you have enjoyed reading about the health benefits of these bulbs of goodness and if you have any favourite recipes for onions or garlic then please share with us….

My thanks to Carol for all the amazing ideas on how to bring these two powerful immune boosting foods into our daily diet.

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Connect to Carol

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology: https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

Blog: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

Please feel free to share thanks Sally and don’t to pop back later today for the Halloween Party and a chance to leave your links to blog and books…

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 – Nutrients the Body Needs – Zinc – The Immune System, acne, infertility, prostate


health column final

Welcome to this week’s look at essential nutrients that our bodies need to be healthy. We tend to regard food as something that looks pretty on a plate, smells and tastes good. Often the cost factor comes in because when you have several mouths to feed that is important. We don’t walk around a market looking for a bunch of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and a bag of zinc but we do need to ensure that we have a wide enough variety of fresh produce in our diet.

When I look at the food diaries for my clients for two weeks of meals, it is often evident that they have settled into a routine.. Fish on Friday, shepherd’s pie on Tuesday, chicken casserole on Thursday. There might be the occasional variation but usually it is the same shopping list week after week.

You might find it useful to check this post out which is the basic shopping list for health and also to make a calendar up for your local area to remind you to buy seasonal produce as that has not only traveled a lot less than most fresh food but supports your local economy.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/05/19/smorgasbord-health-column-a-basic-shopping-list-for-a-nutritionally-balanced-diet/

Now to this week’s mineral….Zinc

I have featured a number of posts in the health column on various diseases resulting from compromised immune systems. From the threat of a common cold to cancer, the immune system is on alert and then in action all our lives.

Zinc has been called ‘the healing mineral’. There is evidence to suggest that wounds heal faster when the body has sufficient zinc in reserve and a patient who has a healthy diet including foods containing zinc may find that recovery from operations is speeded up. In some cases additional supplementation is recommended, particularly in a person who has not got a healthy diet.

Zinc is also plays a major role in respiratory infections, burns and skin conditions and certainly has shown that if used in the form of lozenges at the start of a cold, it can alleviate some of the symptoms.

Like Vitamin C, Zinc is a component of more than 300 enzymes needed to repair wounds, maintain fertility in adults and growth in children. It helps synthesise protein, helps cells reproduce, protects vision, boosts immunity and acts as an antioxidant, protecting us from free radical damage.

Main areas of health that require Zinc

The primary areas of health that the mineral is most effectively used are for acne, the common cold, infertility, night blindness and wound healing. It is also used therapeutically in certain cases of anaemia, anorexia nervosa, birth defect prevention, coeliac disease, cold sores, Crohn’s disease, Diabetes, mouth and gum disorders, liver disease, and peptic ulcers. This list is only a partial representation of the areas of health that Zinc is involved in and including it in your daily diet is very important.

One of the areas that I have used zinc as part of a diet programme is for men in their mid 40’s onwards. Prostate problems such as enlargement or even cancer are quite common in that age group and zinc is one of the minerals that may help prevent future problems. In this case a handful of pumpkinseeds twice a day provides a healthy dose of zinc as well as other nutrients.

How do you know you might be deficient in zinc?

A major deficiency is unlikely in the western world. In under developed countries children who are deficient suffer from stunted growth, weight loss, gastrointestinal problems and pneumonia.

In our environment there is some evidence that if there is a poor diet prior to and during pregnancy that zinc will be deficient that could lead to birth defects and illness in the mother. Drinking alcohol to excess can result in liver damage, particularly liver cirrhosis and there appears to be a link to zinc deficiency.

An interesting line of research is in the management of Down’s syndrome. Children born with this syndrome are commonly deficient in Zinc and are treated with a supplement and diet and this helps boost their immunity and thyroid function, which is suppressed due to the condition.

The most common age group for deficiency is the elderly whose digestive systems, along with many other operational activities has slowed down and is complicated by a decrease in appetite and the resultant lack of food and nourishment. If kidney disease is also present the effects the deficiency could be worsened.

Are there any dangers to including zinc in your diet?

Including zinc in your everyday diet is unlikely to cause problems. If you are deficient a supplement containing 15mg per day is sufficient unless your doctor advises higher doses for certain illnesses.

There is evidence to suggest that once you start taking in excess of 300mg per day in supplements you could impair immune system function rather than boosting it.

Some people find that zinc lozenges that are taken at the start of a cold leave a metallic taste in them mouth and some experience gastrointestinal problems but it is usually due to taking more than the recommended dosage, in excess of 150mg. This is one of those cases where less may be more.

The best food sources for zinc are: seafood particularly oysters, pumpkinseeds, sesame seeds, wheatgerm, egg yolks, black-eyed peas and tofu.

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

My nutritional background

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

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

Thank you for dropping by as always and look forward to your feedback.  Please feel free to share.

Smorgasbord Health Column – The Immune System – Your role in protecting the body from a virus


I am continuing with the re-run of the Immune System series as it is a message that I believe is well worth repeating.

Most diseases today that are not genetically passed on to us are lifestyle induced. This means that as a rule we are masters of our own health outcomes and need to own the responsibility. I know that most of you that are reading this do just that and that I am only underlining the steps you have already taken. If you do know someone you feel does not share that healthy outlook on life, perhaps you might pass this on. I needed that nudge 25 years ago and it certainly set me on a different path.

I spent most of the first 40 years of my life in ignorance when it came to my body. I had studied biology at school and apart from a scary film on childbirth (meant to be the ultimate contraceptive), I knew more about the insides of a frog.

As a family we ate well… But it was not related to our health in any way. Certainly as I stuffed food in one end I gave little thought as to what happened to it on its journey to the other end. I was more concerned that my sugar craving was satisfied and I was then a happy bunny.

It took the short and very sharp shock of finding out that my ignorance had led me to a dark place physically with lifestyle related diseases associated with a woman in her 70s and 80s. Completely self-inflicted and I could not blame my genes, my family nor could I adopt a ‘poor me’ approach to blame.

It is not as though I was stupid. I was a senior manager in a large company with a stressful but very fulfilling job. But I had no control over my eating. I have always devoured books as well as food and now it was time to go into overdrive and learn how to take back control of my failing body.

As I studied medical textbooks and online research by leading nutritionists; a light went on. I had been dismissive for most of my life about my body and the functions it performed, mainly without my assistance 24 hours a day 7 days a week. My only contribution was to give it the nutritional and physical support to do its job; and I had been failing miserably.

Supplements

We live in a world of quick fixes. For example, in supermarkets, pharmacies, in the press you find anti-oxidants advertised for your immune system –when do you think our 100,000 plus year old body decided that it was better to get its nutrients from a capsule or tablet?

And considering that it does take 10,000 to 12,000 years for a DNA mutation that might make a small change in the way the body processes nutrients for its needs, I think it is clear that we still need to ingest the good old fashioned food to give it a fighting chance.

I do advocate the occasional use of supplements, when needed, to additionally support the body. You must do your research however, and it is better to buy a reputable brand that gives you all the relevant information and has advice on hand if you have questions.  Many cheaper brands may be fine, but often the pills will just pass through you without your body receiving any benefits at all.

If you add up how much you are spending on keeping your immune system healthy with supplements, then I think you will find that you could be enjoying a fantastic diet, rich with more than enough fresh foods to do the job better.

The reason for somewhat long winded introduction, is that over the many years that I have worked with clients and written about food and nutrition, I have learned that if someone understands how their body works, and how truly amazing it is they will put everything into losing weight, improving their immune system function, working to improve conditions such as diabetes etc.

So, fasten your seat belt! Here we go with part three of the immune system -how it reacts to an infection like a cold, and some more foods to help support your defences in the massive task of keeping you alive.

If toxins and germs get past our first barriers such as the skin etc then the body needs to muster its troops very quickly to contain the situation. Apart from our blood stream we have a network throughout our bodies which is called the lymphatic system. It is a little like a railway network with stations along the route, which are called glands. You will often hear people say that the glands are up for example when they have an infection.

The most noticeable are usually the lymph nodes in your neck, under your armpits and in your groin. The lymph fluid, which is called plasma, travels along the network, reaches one of the stations and drops off any harmful bacteria in the node. The lymph system contains a number of cells that sound like something out of James Bond movies. B-cells, Killer T-cells – Helper T –Cells macrophages and lymphocytes and these and all other blood cells are produced in our bone marrow. (Which is why bone marrow transplants from healthy marrow can save the life of another person)

All these cells have specific roles to play (for example the macrophages swallow bacteria to kill it) and to give you an idea of the immune system at work this how the common cold virus is dealt with in the body.

A common cold is an illness caused by a virus infection located in the nose but which can also affect the sinuses, ears and the bronchial tubes. The symptoms include sneezing and sore throat for the first 24 to 36 hours followed by blocked nose, scratchy throat with possibly headaches, feverishness, chilliness and coughs.

It is not actually the virus that causes all the unpleasant symptoms of a cold. The virus attaches itself to a small proportion of the cells in the lining of the nose. It is in fact the body’s response to the invasion that causes all the symptoms. The immune system is activated and also some of the nervous system reflexes. A number of white cells from our defence system, including killer cells, are released into the blood stream such as histamine, interleukins and prostaglandins. When activated these cells cause a dilation and leakage of blood vessels and mucus gland secretion. They also activate sneezing and cough reflexes to expel infection from the nose and the lungs.

It is these reactions caused by our own killer cells that are treated by the over the counter medications, not the actual virus itself. By suppressing our bodies own reactions to the virus we can drive it further into the system causing more harmful infections, particularly if we have already got a weakened immune system.

After the killer cells have dealt with the initial infection, antibodies are released that help prevent re-infection by the same virus. This is why as we get older we should suffer from less cold infections.

Avoiding colds in the first place.

There are two main ways to protect yourself from catching a cold virus. One is to minimise the risk of infection through contact with people and objects that have been infected, and the other is to build your immune system to enable you to deal with viruses if they do attach themselves to you. It is almost impossible to avoid contact with people or with objects they have touched with their hands. Some of those people are going to have a cold or influenza and short of doing a ‘Howard Hughes’ and retreating into a sealed room you will have to make do with the main simple but effective precautions.

P.S – Shoppers.. Worth investing in some natural antiseptic wipes with peppermint, citronella, lemongrass,orange, patchouli oils etc and wiping down the handles of supermarket trollies. All these in laboratory tests were effective against 22 bacterial strains and fungi. Think about it!  And wash your hands before you touch any of the raw food you bring home with you.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8893526

Wash your hands frequently with ordinary soap and hot water to avoid passing the virus into your nose. For the elderly avoid shaking hands and kissing family and friends. If you have a baby ask kindly meaning admirers to not touch or kiss it.

Also you should exercise regularly in the fresh air and avoid over heated, unventilated living spaces. If your nasal passages dry out they are more likely to become infected and this applies to those of us who live in air-conditioned and centrally heated environments most of the year.

Some natural anti-virals.

Vitamin C and Zinc are great nutrients in the fight against the cold. Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid is water soluble and cannot be stored in the body and is the most powerful water-soluble anti-oxidant. Not only does it protect us from free-radical damage but it works to neutralise potentially harmful reactions in the water-based parts of our body such as in the bloodstream and in the fluid around each cell. In the immune system it works to increase the production of our white blood cells that make up our defences. It can also modulate the reaction to a cold for example by lowering the levels of histamine which is causing the runny nose.

The best source for Vitamin C is all fresh, raw fruit and vegetables – and the highest concentrations are in black currants, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cherries, grapefruits etc… A word of warning – if you buy already prepared and cut vegetables they will have lost varying percentages of their Vitamin C depending on how many days old they are. You may only be obtaining a third of the initial amount of the vitamin by day four or five. Frozen food on the other hand that is picked and frozen is a great option if you can only shop once a week.

If you are starting a cold; drink hot water with the juice of half a lemon and a teaspoon of honey. One of the herbs that I use during the winter months is Echinacea  and I will take from November through to January to help boost my immune system.  If you take as a cold begins, rather than supress the immune system it will support it. However, the old saying that a cold will be gone in ‘a week or seven days’ is usually accurate. The very young and the elderly are vulnerable to more serious respiratory complications and extra care should be taken.

pumpkin seedsZinc is often referred to as the healing mineral -there is evidence to suggest wounds heal faster and certainly it supports a healthy immune system. So foods to include are: – Seafood, pumpkinseeds, sesame seeds, wheatgerm, egg yolks and tofu. Sprinkle the seeds over your porridge in the morning – or make your own home-made muesli – enjoy an egg a day for breakfast.

Next time – How your immune system fights more serious disease, the use of anti-biotics and more tips on how to build your immune system and foods to include in your diet.

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

You can find all the other health column posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-column-news-nutrients-health-conditions-anti-aging/

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

I would love to connect to you on social media.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sally.cronin
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sgc58
Google + : https://plus.google.com/+SallyCronin/about
LinkedIn: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/sallycronin1

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have found of interest.. thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Health Column – The #Immune System – How it Works


Like most things in life there are two sides to every story, which means there are the good guys and the bad guys. When it comes to our health this involves healthy bacteria and dangerous bacteria.

All creatures, including of course humans, have an amazingly complex but effective system to distinguish between the two, and to ensure that we don’t come to harm.

Our Immune System.

This system has been evolving over hundreds of thousands of years and developing strategies to protect us every time it met with a new threat. This is often; as germs mutate when they meet resistance and our software needs frequent updating.

The majority of the bacteria in our body is designed to be there. These are the friendlies and our home defence team. Without a gut teeming with them many of our systems would grind to a halt, our brains would not function and our blood would uselessly circulate our bodies without anything to transport. Our food would not be processed and nutrients would not reach the organs that depend entirely on them to survive.

Along with the worker bacterial cells there are the front line soldiers who rush to our defence when we are under attack. Provided we have a healthy diet of unprocessed natural foods these fighters are in enough numbers to do the job. However, throw sugars and industrial food into the equation along with laziness and you rob your immune system of this vital defence component and you are open to attack.

One of the issues that is also playing a huge part in our downgrading of our anti-virus software is the overuse of commercial anti-bacterial products.  Not only can the active ingredients be harmful to us, but if too strong, their actions can prevent us coming into contact with bacteria needed for our immune systems to detect or develop antibodies.

Having said that, children need to be exposed to un-lethal germs from an early age to develop their immature immune systems effectively.  Living in a home that is 99% germ free is a great concept but the world outside is 99% germ invested.  A child needs to be able to cope with that, and can only do so if its defence system has been allowed to come up to standard.

In the posts on the immune system I will be looking at how it works and what it needs to do so effectively.

In this post  I will cover the components of this complex defence mechanism, how it works and how to maintain its efficiency with some changes in diet.

It is a system that is usually taken for granted and treated with disrespect until it lets us down, and then we blame it for making us ill.  In fact if we have not provided this vital function within our body, the foods containing the nutrients it requires; it is us who is to blame. Many millions in the world do not have access to fresh produce and are unable to give their immune systems what it needs, causing widespread disease. This means that it is even more important for those of us who do live with the luxury of food choice to make the most of it.

Without an efficiently functioning immune system we would all have to spend our lives in a bubble without any contact with the outside world. Ever. One minor infection could kill you!

There have been a number of cases over the years of children born with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID). They have been forced to spend their lives separated by clear plastic from their family and any contact with bacteria or viruses. Today, thankfully with gene therapy, this devastating disease is curable, but for some a normal life is simply not possible.

The immune system is another one of our silent partners and is an extremely important one. Our most crucial years in terms of this amazing system in our body, is our childhood, when our contact with people, animals, grass, pollens, foods; develops the immune system until it becomes our guardian angel. Watching and waiting for any breach in our system and rushing to our defence within seconds of the alarm being sounded. (Anyone who has had a child going to nursery or school for the first time will have experienced first-hand the process, as the mass contact produces a whole raft of immune system strengthening infections!) It is however, never too late to make the changes necessary to strengthen your immune system.

In a nutshell if your immune system is not functioning well, your entire body including the tissues, organs and systems, suffer damage and cannot repair themselves. Additionally you are wide open to bacterial, viral and toxic invaders who are looking for a nesting site. You have what they need to reproduce and thrive but they like to make some adjustments when they arrive. They like a lovely acidic, toxic, waste filled environment without too much oxygen. (A rubbish diet with little exercise will achieve that nicely)

They are particularly fond of a new home that does not have troublesome neighbours such as anti-oxidants and they prefer a quiet life without too much exercise so that they get on and breed. They are a class act and make sure that they give you something back in the form of rent. Frequent colds and flu, thrush, skin complaints, fatigue and stomach problems. If you are a really up market landlord and are offering premium accommodation they will pay you back with arthritis, rheumatism, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and cancer.

The immune system is not involved in just our internal defences. It actually has a pretty formidable array of physical barriers that are designed to keep pathogens, which is all harmful substances out of our bodies.

Our first line of defence

The skin is our main external protector. If it is not damaged it will not allow harmful substances to enter the blood stream. The problem is that of course it is porous and is designed to allow fluids out and in through the pores. So any substance that touches your skin such as chemical preparations can pass right through. For example if you use strong household cleaners these contain highly toxic substances that will pass through the dermal layer and store in the tissues causing anything to a mild rash to a violent allergic reaction. This is why you must wear gloves when using them. Many of us react to perfume, cosmetics or even simple hand creams that our body obviously thinks of as toxic. If you cut yourself then germs can pass through directly to the bloodstream and from there they have complete access to the rest of your body.

We have special hairs and mucus tissues in our nose, mouth and throat that are designed to catch anything harmful.   If a toxin gets as far as our stomachs, then acid and enzymes will react and cause you to vomit to get rid of it. Should any harmful bacteria, virus or toxin get past these barriers then we have a very complex system of cells and anti-bodies that will rush to our defence. Most of us have suffered stomach upsets before and it is just the body getting rid of the toxins. (More about these in a later post.)

The liver is of course the place where most of these toxins are going to pass through, and it has specific enzymes designed to destroy them so that they can then be evicted from the body. Which is fine if the toxicity is only occasional but unfortunately our modern diet and environment puts the liver under a great deal of pressure and toxins will not all be expelled, going on to do sometimes irreparable damage.

Free radicals running riot through the body.

If you cut an apple and effectively damage it, within a few minutes it will begin to turn brown. If you leave it long enough the tissue of the apple will begin to break down and you will end up with a liquid, bacteria covered and unidentifiable lump on your cutting board. That just about sums up what free radical damage does to your body. We bandy about the phrase Free Radicals as if they are some dissident political group or school yard bullies which is essentially true. Like most bullies they are missing something and want yours.

A free radical is a molecule. A normal molecule has an even number of electrons and is considered stable. Free radicals on the other hand have an uneven number of electrons and are unstable. They are desperate to be like the normal molecules so they have to steal from them to get another electron. This of course means that they have created another free radical. More and more cells become damaged and leave the body open to most diseases including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Like the apple the damage is a kind of oxidation, which is the action of adding oxygen to a substance or rusting and when I wrote about cholesterol, it was the low density lipoprotein with its smaller particles that becomes oxidised by free radicals making it unhealthy.

Do Free Radicals have a positive effect on the body?

Ironically the immune system uses some free radicals to go and steal an electron from harmful molecules that have entered the system illegally. Problem is, like everything else in the body we need balances and checks. The Free Radical police are anti-oxidants and if you have not got enough of them then the free radicals become vigilantes and go after everything that moves.

Also we create free radicals when we exercise energetically and take in additional oxygen. These then assist with the metabolism of foods that enter the body. Again if the balance between these and anti-oxidants is not correct more free radicals are created than are needed. This is why we need a healthy diet including foods that provide these anti-oxidants.

vegetablesThose of you who read my articles on a regular basis know what is coming next!… To boost your immune system there are some very easy guidelines to follow.

  1. Cut out sugars from your diet so that you are only ingesting a maximum of 6 teaspoons per day in cooked foods and as a sweetener. Effectively, that means do not eat industrial processed foods, particularly items such as breakfast cereals and most commercial flavoured yogurts. Do not be taken in by low-fat food and those that say artificially sweetened. The chemical stuff is definitely unhealthy and has documented side effects. Too much sugar in the system provides a wonderful environment for all toxic pathogens and your immune system will only be able to stand on the side lines as its defence team fights a losing battle.
  2. Industrially produced foods has been through a machine, rarely has many natural ingredients and has chemical additives. If it is wrapped in plastic, comes in a packet or has very attractive cardboard advertising then treat with suspicion. Most of the time your immune system will spend more time dealing with the toxins than your digestive system will take to consume and process.
  3. Drink sufficient fluids to help toxins pass out of the body. If you are one of those who boast that you manage on a cup or two of tea a day and that you get all the fluids you need from the food you eat; think again. We lose moisture when we exhale, through our skin and when we pee which adds up to between 1.5 to 2 litres per day. You cannot replenish that from food alone and if you pinch the skin on the back of your hand and it is slow to resume its normal smooth appearance then you are dehydrated. This will impact how your immune system functions.
  4. Adopt the 80/20 rule for your diet. 80% all fresh natural produce that has been grown, picked or dug up out of the ground. The brighter the colour the better. I know that having a busy work and personal life makes this daunting sometimes but I use frozen vegetables all the time.. Especially out of season. The only two that I usually prefer to prepare myself are carrots, potatoes and sweet potato as the frozen ones do not taste as good. Also economically onions are much better non-frozen but I do in bulk and they keep in the fridge for a week. Green vegetables particularly are very good these days and if you are really in a hurry get a good quality mixed veg bag.
  5.  Combine with good quality protein that has not been mass farmed (farm shops are great) and moderate intake of whole grains. (White carbohydrates are treated like sugar by the body. Milk, Butter, Eggs and Olive Oil should also be part of your nutritional shopping list as they provide vitamins and minerals as well as Omega Fatty Acids to boost your entire system.
  6. Follow my ‘Cook From Scratch’ approach to eating.
  7.  20% of your diet is where the Red Wine, Dark Chocolate and occasional Guinness comes in!

Next time – ignorance is not bliss.. your body is your only real asset and its well-being should be your primary concern.

©Justfoodforhealth 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

You can find all the previous posts in the Health Column in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-column-news-nutrients-health-conditions-anti-aging/

Thanks for dropping in and please feel free to share.. thanks Sally

The Medicine Woman – Aromatherapy – Frankincense Essential Oil – Immune, reproductive systems, Anti-aging, Antiseptic


Twenty years ago I ran a health food shop and diet advisory centre here in Ireland and we sold essential oils for aromatherapy. I thought that I should learn more about it and took a course on the subject. It is not something that I have covered here on the blog, and I am looking forward to refreshing my memory from my course notes. and introducing you to this relaxing therapy at the same time.

What is Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy uses essential oils which have been extracted from specific sweet smelling plants for therapeutic massage. They are blended with specialised carrier oils to ensure that they are used in a diluted form and are easily absorbed by the skin. The oils can also be used to add these therapeutic aromas to our environment as well with the use of burners.

This week one of the most exotic and ancient essential oils that is also one of my favourites which is also used in the skincare industry. If you see Boswellia on the label it contains Frankincense.

Frankincense from Somalia and Oman is extracted from the resin.

  • Scent: Incense, warm, spicy, with a hint of citrus.
  • Usage: Inhalation, Bath, Skin Care, Massage
  • Note: Middle, Base
  • Mood: Calming
  • Safety: None indicated.

The brief history of Frankincense.

Originally this essential oil would have been known as olibanum in Hebrew and al-luban (that which results from milking) in Arabic. It is obtained from the resin (known as the tears) of the Boswellia genus of trees (sapindales), particularly the Bosewellia sacra and more recently the Indian B. thurifera.

It was only when the Frankish Crusaders reintroduced the oil to Europe that it became known by the French name derived from Francencens (high quality incense).

There is evidence that Frankincense was traded as a valuable commodity in Arabia over 5000 years ago with paintings depicting sacks of the resin on the walls of the tomb of the Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut. Clearly something she wanted to take with her. The resin was traded mainly from Southern Arabia at the time and was exported as far as China.

It was mentioned in Ancient Greece and Herodotus mentioned that it was dangerous to extract due to the venomous snakes who also enjoyed being in close proximity to the boswellia trees.

Frankincense was a consecrated incense and has numerous mentions in the Hebrew Bible, Talmud and used in the Ketoret (burnt incense offering ceremonies), blended to a secret recipe. The essence is also mentioned in the New Testament and was offered together with gold and myrrh to the infant Jesus. It is known as a symbol of not just holiness but righteousness and symbolic of the sacrifice as in the burnt offerings in the Ketoret.

There are four main species of boswellia that produce the true, high quality frankincense and the resin comes in various grades that depends on the time of harvesting. It is then hand sorted for quality

The resin from the boswellia genus of trees is used extensively in the pharmaceutical industry particularly in anti-inflammatories and traditionally has been used for skin complaints. For use in the perfumery and skincare industry, the essential oil is extracted by steam distillation.

Although there are no indications of danger in using frankincense topically, I do recommend a skin test at least 24 hours before using.

Health benefits of Frankincense essential oils.

As an antiseptic it may be used on wounds to prevent infection and stop bleeding and the smoke from a diffuser can also help eliminate germs in the immediate vicinity.

It is an astringent which is why it is used in facial skincare. Used diluted in a base cream or lotion it may help prevent acne or to clear the spots effectively. It helps to constrict the skin smoothing out wrinkles. As an inhalent that helps maintain a healthy hormonal balance it may prevent acne associated with monthly periods.

It also is used in body lotions for stretch marks and cellulite with the bonus of making you smell very good. If rubbed into the lower abdomen it may also help with cramps and other PMS symptoms, and is particularly useful during the menopause. Because it is calming.. a regular massage using the oil, in combination with others can alleviate mood swings and stress.

When inhaled the oil can regulate hormone production helping PMS symptoms and also maintaining a healthy reproductive system, boost the immune system, improve digestion, improve inflammatory related health issues, help stop diarrhea and may help internal wound healing. It may also promote urination and water retention eliminating toxins from the body, reducing blood pressure and helping to maintain a healthy weight.

It can be used in homemade toothpaste along with baking soda and peppermint oil to help prevent cavities, improve gum health and you can use in water as a mouthwash. From time to time I will put a drop on my toothbrush and use instead of toothpaste and also after brushing, wash the brush head thoroughly in very hot water and then rub in a drop of frankincense as an antiseptic cleaner.

Some of the many other essential oils that Frankincense blends well with. When combined with their health benefits, you have a powerful arsenal in your natural medicine cabinet.

Geranium from Egypt, Madagascar, China is made from the whole plant.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: Skin Care, Massage, Baths
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Harmonising
  • Safety: None Indicated.

Mandarin is made from the peel of the fruit and comes from Brazil, Algeria and Argentina.

  • Scent: Citrus
  • Usage: Bath, massage, skin care
  • Note: Top
  • Mood: Soothing
  • Safety: Avoid exposure to sunlight.

Neroli is made from the flowers and comes from Morocco, Tunisia and France.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: Skin care, massage, baths
  • Note: Top
  • Mood: Calming
  • Safety: None indicated

Patchouli is made from the leaves and comes from India, Malaysia and Indonesia.

  • Scent: Musky
  • Usage: Burners, massage, baths
  • Note: Base
  • Mood: Calming
  • Safetly: None indicated.

Rose Otto is made from the flowers and comes from Bulgaria and Turkey.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: massage, skin care and baths.
  • Note: Middle/Top
  • Mood: Balancing
  • Safety: None indicated.

Sandalwood is made from the wood of the tree and comes from India.

  • Scent: Woody
  • Usage: Massage, inhalation, skin care, baths.
  • Note: Base
  • Mood: Balancing
  • Safety: None indicated.

Ylang Ylang is made from the flowers and comes from Madagascar.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: massage, baths, skin care
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Seductive
  • Safety: None indicated.

Just a couple of notes.

This is not a full list of essential oils and you can discover the full range at any specialist shop or website. You will also find that they have carrier oils and also a range of accessories for blending and keeping your finished preparation fresh.

Secondly it is not advisable to take essential oils internally especially in their concentrated form. However, I have used peppermint oil … just one drop to a large glass of water for IBS. Do ask an expert before experimenting.

©Sally Cronin 2018

Additional information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankincense

Thank you for joining me today and I hope you have found interesting… thanks Sally

 

 

 

Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Winterising your body – Germs do not like Goldenseal


Smorgasbord Health 2017

In the last few health column posts I have covered the upcoming influenza season with news of a mega-vaccine and how to boost the immune system to prevent infection. I also mentioned the preventative and therapeutic properties of Echinacea and  in this post I want to follow up with another herb with similar properties but is not quite as popular.

Echinacea is an herb that might help prevent infections from colds and also help alleviate the symptoms if you actually caught one. Goldenseal has similar properties and also has a number of other reported medicinal properties including being anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal as well as being full of nutrients. It contains Vitamins A, C and E, B-complex, calcium, iron and manganese.

One word of warning about Goldenseal, it is a uterine stimulant which means that you should not take if you are pregnant and nor should you give to your pets if they are pregnant as it could induce early labour. You should also not take if you suffer from high blood pressure.

Like Echinacea, Goldenseal was used by the Native American Indians, in particular the Cherokee, for centuries in their pharmacy of natural herbs. Its distinctive yellow colour also made it a perfect dye for clothes and blankets.

Goldenseal is a member of the buttercup family and it is the root that is used in medicine. Originally it was most probably used for infections and to treat irritations of soft tissues, especially the eyes.

The mucous membranes of the body are found in the nasal passages, throat, digestive tract, respiratory tract and urinary tract. They are slimy to the touch in order to prevent bacteria sticking to their surfaces and reproducing and causing infection. They are also the first surfaces to become inflamed and irritated when we catch an infection. Goldenseal works by increasing the immune system energy and also increasing the circulation right under the surface of the membranes, which helps eliminate the waste faster and speed up the healing process.

There are a number of conditions that involve mucous membranes that can be helped by taking the herb – apart from colds and flu – including sinus infections, mild bowel inflammations, upper respiratory infections, urinary tract infections and eye irritations.

Quite a potent combination is to take both Echinacea and Goldenseal when you begin an infection. As you may know, Echinacea stimulates the immune system by increasing the activity of the white blood cells that destroy harmful bacteria and viruses.

  • The Goldenseal will help control the inflammation and speed up the immune system process by bringing the white blood cells to the infected site faster.
  • To be healthy we need our glandular functions to be working efficiently. Goldenseal increases bile flow (improves appetite), and digestive enzymes which in turn improves the function of the liver and the spleen. It also helps ease peptic ulcers, treats infections of the intestines and aids in digestion.
  • Goldenseal does not suit everyone and apart from the general warning above I do not advise using the herb for long periods of time. That applies to most herbs that are used therapeutically.
  • Echinacea can be used as a preventative measure during the winter months but Goldenseal should be used when needed in the early stages of an infection until it has cleared. Usually two weeks is sufficient and it is best taken after food.
  • Goldenseal can be used as a mouthwash following dental treatment. If you have a severe sore throat then you can dilute two capsules into 4 oz. of hot water, allow to cool, and then use as a gargle.
  • Goldenseal is available as a tincture or in capsule form.

Would love your feedback of course.. thank you and have a great week.. Sally

 

 

Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Winterise your Body – A little herbal health insurance – Echinacea and Australian Flu update


health column final

In the last two posts I have looked at Influenza, how to avoid and how to recover from a viral infection.  This time I would like to look at an alternative way to boost your immune system ready for the winter virus opportunists.

But first an update on the Australian Flu which is causing concern for health services across the world as air travel spreads the virus.

Australia is having a worse flu season than usual this year, with 93,711 laboratory-confirmed cases reported to its National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System as of August 18, government data show.

That’s almost 2½ times more infections than in the same period last year. According to a surveillance system report, adults over the age of 80 and children between 5 and 9 years old have been most affected.

Does Australia’s bad flu season bode ill for Northern Hemisphere nations, including the US, Canada and across Europe?

“In general, we get in our season what the Southern Hemisphere got in the season immediately preceding us,” Fauci said. An “intelligent guess,” therefore, is that the north will probably have a bad flu season.

Read the whole article here: http://edition.cnn.com/2017/09/03/health/australia-bad-flu-season/index.html

At this time of year I have a few drops of the good stuff every day.. and no I am not referring to the medicinal brandy in the sideboard in the dining-room. I am talking about Echinacea in the form of a tincture. From October I have 15 drops in a little water daily and touch wood…..I had not had a cold for many years or the flu until this year. I stopped taking taking my Echinacea at the beginning of May and then went over to London for the Blogger’s Bash. I live a fairly isolated existence here on the coast in Wexford and apart from competing in a trolley dash twice a week we rarely have contact with others except close neighbours.

My immune system obviously was not up for two planes full of people coughing and sneezing, or packed London public transport.  Sure enough three days after arriving back I got a stinker…..

Just goes to show, that the care I take the rest of the year, to provide my immune system with a varied and fresh food diet, sunshine and moderate exercise, needs extra help at certain times, especially if I am going to be confined with many others in an enclosed space at 30,000 feet!

Unfortunately, if you have not been following a varied and healthy diet and providing your body with the nutrients it needs to maintain a healthy immune system, taking 15 drops of echinacea is not going to be much help.

echinacea

Echinacea is an herb that is very widely used to boost the immune system and help to alleviate the symptoms of colds and flu, naturally.

The Latin name for this herb is Echinacea Purpurea (Purple coneflower). It is considered to be the primary herbal remedy for the immune system and was first used in a healing capacity by the Native American Indians. They used it primarily for boils, abscesses and snakebites. They also chewed the roots for toothaches, colds, sore throats and coughs. The herb itself actually has no direct effect on bacteria or viruses but instead it is its effect on our own immune system that aids treatment of an infection.

The herbal tincture that you will see in health food shops and pharmacies is made from the roots, flowers and seeds of the plant. You can now buy capsules but I still prefer to use the tincture as I feel it is easier for the body to absorb and faster acting.

When choosing an herbal tincture it is important to buy a high quality product that is holistically standardised. This means that the chemical constituents of the plant are not tampered with in any way and the end product includes the whole spectrum of healing benefits. It is believed that the active ingredients in a plant work together to provide the overall effect. Some processing practices remove or reduce some of the elements of the plant making them less effective. Do make a point to check your labels, or the details of the product, before you buy.

With all alternative medicines you need to regard them with respect. They do not necessarily mix with your own chemical make-up or the chemical elements in your prescription medication. If you are taking other medications, always ask your doctor or pharmacist if there are any contra-indications relating to taking the two together.

One of the other things that I have to mention is that we are not allowed to claim that any diet, remedy or therapeutic therapy can cure you of anything. Please consider that said.

Echinacea acts as an immune stimulant that mobilises our defence system by activating and stimulating the release of white blood cells (leukocytes) which fight infection. The function of our T-cells is enhanced and there is an increase in the number of macrophages, the cells that consume and destroy foreign bodies such as bacteria.

One of the plant’s components is Echinacin, which promotes the growth of new tissue, activating fibroblasts, which are the cells that are responsible for encouraging wound healing.

Echinacea can be taken when an infection begins and it can reduce the symptoms and speed recovery by enhancing the immune system’s own abilities. It can also be taken over a longer period to increase the body’s resistance to infection and I usually recommend that a person start taking 15 drops once a day in the middle of October through to the middle of March if they are prone to colds. Children can take 7 drops of the herb for the same time span if they are under 12 years old.

If you start a cold or the flu you can take 15 drops, two or three times a day in a little water and children can take 7 drops two or three times a day. It is recommended that you do not stay at this dosage for longer than a couple of months but the usual time is the duration of the infection plus a week, then reduce down to the long term daily dose.

You will find that there are a number of products available that contain Echinacea and two of the most effective, in my book, are the toothpaste which helps prevent bacterial build-up in the form of plaque and skin cream which works well on dry and infected skin.

You can buy Echinacea tea in health food shops and with the addition of a slice of fresh lemon and a teaspoon of honey this can be very soothing in the early stages of a cold and also may help you reduce the symptoms.

Echinacea can also be used for pets but there are specific guidelines that need to be followed.

N.B Herbal remedies do not always work well with prescribed medications as their actions can dilute the effectiveness of treatment such as for cancer, or can intensify which may result in side effects.  Always check with your doctor or a qualified herbalist before taking any herbal medicine with prescribed drugs or over the counter pain-killers or medication.

The previous posts on this subject.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/02/smorgasbord-health-2017-winterising-your-body-influenza-the-opportunistic-pathogen/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/winterising-the-body-immune-system-boosting-eating-and-recovery-plan/

Look forward to your feedback thanks for dropping by.  Sally

 

Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Winterising the Body – Immune system boosting eating and recovery plan.


Smorgasbord Health 2017

As we head into October there is the likelihood that you will bump into someone who is desperate to pass on their cold or flu to you.  Whilst you may take every care and have a healthy diet, if you are stressed, overworked, or been on a plane recently!  You might be a perfect host for the odd virus or two.

In the last post I looked at Influenza in more detail as it can move through a family or community rapidly with some serious health concerns for both the very young and old.

The key to preventing upper respiratory infections such as colds and flu developing into the more serious bronchial conditions is to make sure that your immune system is fully functional.

Catching it early

If you are suffering the early signs of an infection, you should understand that it is a secondary condition. The primary condition that you are suffering from is called Lifestyle Induced Health Crisis! It sounds a bit dramatic but the reason you have become susceptible to a virus or bacteria is that your body is not fit enough to fight it. The fact is that we all have germs in our bodies that lie in wait, looking for a chance to escape into the bloodstream and wreak havoc.

When we are poorly nourished, under stress and using too many stimulants, such as cigarettes, sugar, caffeine and alcohol, any pathogens we are hosting get the chance they have been looking for.

Then we have the external opportunists such as cold and flu viruses who are looking for a new host with all the facilities necessary to help it flourish. Both bacteria and a virus love oxygen starved, nutrient poor, acidic, sugar laden, immune impoverished host who has little or no resistance.

The key to not picking up frequent colds, flu and other viral and bacterial infections is keeping your immune system in good working order.  To maintain a healthy immune system it requires constant attention.  You cannot choose a couple of weeks a year to give it a boost.  You have to maintain it with a mainly fresh, unprocessed diet of fresh vegetables, fruit and lean proteins for 80% of the time so that you can enjoy the other tasty foods we all enjoy 20% of the time.

If you eat that way and get fresh air and regular exercise you will find that you do not become susceptible to infections in the first place .  If you do contract a viral or bacterial infection then you need to give your immune system a boost to help it out.  Working with it rather than against it by consuming over the counter cold medication that drive the infection deeper into the system and only masking the symptoms. (Remember that antibiotics are not effective for viral infections such as colds)

Here is a link to a basic shopping list that provides the nutrients for a healthy immune system and in the header you will also find a nutrient directory that list those that are essential for our health with the foods that supply them.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/05/19/a-basic-shopping-list-for-a-nutritionally-balanced-diet/

lemons

Before I take a look at the foods, herbs and natural supplements that you can take to help fight, alleviate and protect you from an infection, I am going to give you the golden rules to follow that will support your body and let it heal when you are suffering from an infection of any kind. For those of us who have a pretty good immune system a cold will last approximately 7 days, and for children and young adults, will in fact mature and strengthen our resistance to future viral infections.  The problem is for babies, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems following long term illnesses or the treatments such as for cancer.

So for the rest of us, provided you treat the cold symptoms and your body’s defense mechanism with respect you should not suffer beyond the initial misery of the first few days.  Here are some tips to getting through them without complications to yourself or passing it on to others.

Oh and in case you did not read last week’s post.. it is lovely when you meet someone you know to stop and have a hug, a kiss or two on the cheek and to hold their hand in yours….. But do you know where they have been… and if they have a cold or flu?  Be a little more circumspect from October to May…. might save you 7 days of coughing and spluttering.

  1.  Rest is critical: your body, although great at multi-tasking under normal operating circumstances, needs to focus all its energies on fighting the invaders. Sleep is a great healer and you should just go with the flow. If you go to work you are going to pass on your cold to everyone anyway and you will also extend the length of the cold and possibly develop a more serious chest infection. Go to bed or lie on the sofa with a box of disposable tissues and plenty of fluids to hand.
  2. Fluids are also absolutely essential as your body will not only dehydrate but will be forming thick mucus in great quantities, blocking airways. You are likely to have a slight fever, which will raise your body temperature and you will also suffer chills that will make you feel cold. A combination of fresh fruit and vegetable juices and soups, along with 2 litres of fresh water will help flush the toxins from the body efficiently.
  3. The body, as I have just mentioned, needs to focus on getting rid of the infection and it has not got the resources to digest large and stodgy meals during the first few days. Little and often is the key and this is where the soups come in. I will give you the recipes for a chicken and vegetable soup, onion and garlic soup and a beef tea that are great, packed with infection fighting nutrients and can be served with brown rice, a little fresh-baked wholegrain bread or toast. Easily digestible foods such as milk free scrambled egg or spinach omelettes are ideal during this time.
  4. Dairy products increase the production of mucous and therefore congestion and I strongly suggest that you avoid them during the early stages of an infection. Also if bronchitis or other lung problem develops you should also give them a miss. Calcium however is very important in the battle against infection so you need to include other foods that contain this vital mineral.
  5. Bacteria and viruses love warm, moist, sugary and acidic conditions and so processed and sugar based foods and drinks are definitely off the menu. This includes all fizzy drinks, sugar on cereal and in tea and coffee, chocolate and heavily processed meats such as ham.
  6. The symptoms of a cold, flu and of bronchial infections are a detox process, with your body working extremely hard to get rid of the bacteria or virus. Taking suppressive over the counter cold remedies therefore drives the infection back into the body – and this is one of the reasons why something that begins as a simple cold, that the body can deal with, can turn into a more entrenched condition such as bronchitis.
  7. Use tissues rather than a material hanky and throw away after using – it may sound wasteful but if you continually apply infected nose mucus to your hands you will not only re-infect yourself but also others who your hands come into contact with. Put used tissues in a plastic bag and knot securely and dispose of safely.
  8. Wash your hands regularly or use a natural anti-viral hand lotion(see avoiding colds and influenza)
  9. If you are in bed or using a pillow on a sofa do remember that you will be sneezing and contaminating the pillow case during your infectious period. Change every morning and wash at high temperature.
  10. If you have a partner then if possible as soon as you have symptoms go and sleep elsewhere and do not share toothbrushes etc for the duration. Love might be blind but it is certainly not bug resistant!!
  11. If you feel a sneeze coming on then do cover your mouth and nose with a tissue so that you do not dispense germs across the universe.

Components of the immune boosting eating plan

This plan contains all the elements to help relieve symptoms and boost your immune system. The purpose is to boost your immune system as well as naturally support your body as it fights the infection on your behalf.

Fluids

  • Two litres of fresh water. Combats dehydration and helps flush toxins from the body.
  • Fresh squeezed grapefruit and orange juice. Use ½ grapefruit to one large orange. Juice of a whole lemon in hot water with some Manuka Honey. Vitamin C and Manuka honey 15+ has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.
  • Cranberry juice –  Antibacterial and for Vitamin C.
  • Herbal Teas – Drink as many of these as you like.
  • Green tea with juice of ½ lemon & teaspoon of honey. Antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidants, Vitamin C and energy. Soothing for throat and chest.
  • Fenugreek & thyme tea with a slice of lemon and spoon of honey. Expectorant – ridding the body of mucous, tonic and soothes sore throats.
  • Camomile tea with a slice of lemon and ginger. Soothing and anti-inflammatory. Ginger also promotes sweating part of the bodies defence system for getting rid of toxins.
  • Elderflower tea – Immune stimulating, anti-inflammatory and relieves catarrh. You can mix this tea with Green tea and serve hot or cold with lemon.
  • Soups – Have three times a day with a small piece of wholegrain toast or mixed with a tablespoon of cooked brown rice. Garlic and onion soup might leave your breath less than fragrant, but the combination of these ingredients provides many health benefits. Garlic, like the onion is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. With the current concerns that we have about potential ‘Super bugs’ it is interesting that garlic appears to be an effective antibiotic, even against some of these resistant strains.
  • Chicken and vegetable soup – Chicken contains Cysteine an amino acid that has a similar action to a drug called acetylcysteine, which is used to treat patients with bronchitis and respiratory infections. This soup relieves nasal congestion, reduces inflammation caused by active white blood cells, and provides most of the essential immune system nutrients and fluid and warmth.
  • Beef tea soup – This is an adaptation of the tea that has been used for hundreds of years to help invalids recover from most infections, particularly if they were bedridden for days or even weeks. This provides lean protein which the body needs to recover, the B vitamins essential to combat the stress of infection and rehydrates the body.

Light Meals

  • As I have already mentioned, it is a good idea not to overload the body with heavy stodgy meals while it is trying to fight infection. Salads tend to be unappealing which is why soups are so good at this time.
  • If you feel like eating something more solid then omelettes and scrambled eggs are light and easy to digest. Add spinach and onions to the omelettes to give you a nutrient boost and serve with a slice of toast.
  • A bowl of porridge with honey and a mashed banana and rice milk makes a creamy and nutritious breakfast or snack. You can also make a rice or semolina pudding with rice milk and add dried fruit or honey.

Fruits

  • Apart from the fluids and juices that I have mentioned, eat whatever fruit appeals to you while you are feeling unwell. Any will give you a great boost to the immune system.
  • One in particular though is great at this time and that is pineapple. Apart from the usual healthy properties it contains Bromelain which reduces inflammation in general but also in the glands that tend to be swollen during an infection.
  • Pineapple also works to cleanse the body and blood and increase circulation, allowing toxins to be moved from effectively from infected sites and out of the body.

Supplements

Thankfully, I do not often get colds but if I feel that I am getting some of the symptoms such as a scratchy throat and runny nose, I immediately start a course of 1,000 mg of Vitamin C three times a day with 30 mg of Zinc.

Zinc is also available in lozenge form and is great for sore throats. Both Zinc and Vitamin C are covered in more detail in the October Issue.

Increase the amount that you are eating as you begin to feel better but still stay with six light meals a day for a period of time until your body is fully recovered.

Recipe for Chicken Soup

Cook whole chicken. Take out of water and remove flesh before returning the carcass to the water for further hour to simmer. Remove carcass and add two finely chopped carrots (vitamin A and C), finely chopped large onion (antibacterial) ½ clove of crushed garlic (anti-bacterial and antiviral), bag of fresh chopped spinach (magnesium, iron and calcium). Bring to boil and cook for 20 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add back chopped chicken meat and bring back to boil. Either add a tablespoon of cooked brown rice to the bottom of a soup bowl or serve with wholegrain toast with olive oil.

Recipe for Beef Tea

This is an adaptation of the tea that has been used for hundreds of years to help invalids recover from most infections, particularly if they were bedridden for days or even weeks. Take 1 lb. of lean beefsteak (lean protein and vitamin Bs) and cut into cubes. Place 1-½ pints of cold water in a pan and bring to the boil. Skim of excess fat that accumulates on the surface. Add the salt and simmer for about an hour. Remove any scum on the surface during this time. Liquidise. Store in the refrigerator until needed and then bring required amount to the boil in a saucepan. Serve again with a little brown rice or whole grain bread and olive oil.

onions

Recipes for Onion and Garlic Soup

Onion Soup
2 Tablespoons of olive oil.
2lbs (1kg) of peeled and thinly sliced onions
11/2 pints (900ml) of vegetable stock or water
2 garlic gloves, peeled and crushed
Lemon juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
Chopped parsley or chives.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and then fry the onions until they are soft and deep golden brown but not burnt. Add the stock or water, garlic and a few drops of lemon juice. Bring the soup to the boil and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the chopped parsley or chives and serve with warm wholegrain bread or add two tablespoons of cooked brown rice.

Creamy Garlic Soup
8oz (225 gm.) potatoes scrubbed and diced but not peeled.
2 garlic bulbs broken into cloves.
1-tablespoon olive oil.
Salt to taste
2 ½ pints (1.5litres) water.

Put the potatoes and the garlic in a pan with the water, bring to the boil and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes or until the potato is tender. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then liquidise and pour through a sieve into a clean pan. Add more water to adjust the consistency to your liking. Whisk in the olive oil and add salt to taste.

Gently reheat before serving with wholegrain bread or Pitta bread.

Next time some alternative help in boosting your immune system… thanks for dropping in and look forward to your feedback.. thanks Sally