Smorgasbord Health Column – The Gentle Detox – Introduction and Phase One – Before you begin your weight loss programme


Most of us have come out of the festive season with a little more than some presents and remnants of tinsel around the house. Many go into Christmas with great intentions especially, if they have been careful all year about weight and exercise, and others say ” What the Hell” and dive straight into the Eggnog.. Whichever type of reveller you are this is still a great time to give your body its annual holiday and get it ready for the tough year ahead.

Something to think about.

I will be upfront with you. I do not agree with water only fasts, not starving a body into submission. Whilst I find intermittent fasting (eating within an 8 hour window) suits me, at my age, with my level of activity, and to combat high blood sugar and blood pressure levels. I don’t recommend if you are in working full time including as a mother, have a very active lifestyle, or are already underweight.

I also do not agree with removing any major food group for your diet unless there is a diagnosed medical condition that requires it, or a confirmed allergy. This includes wholegrain carbohydrates which have an important role to play in your complex nutritional requirements.

Protein is essential to our health and development at every age, and if you choose not to eat animal protein then you must ensure that you include sufficient plant based proteins and foods that provide adequate amount of B vitamins. If you would like to check what foods supply the nutrients that we must have, here is an alternative shopping list.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/04/19/smorgasbord-health-column-the-alternative-way-to-shop-by-nutrient/

Perhaps you are now going to spend the next twelve months pottering around your luxury villa (paid for completely including overheads) in the sun with dips in the pool and servants to do your bidding. As well as eating fresh exotic fruits for breakfast, fish straight from the sea with luscious vegetables lightly steamed for lunch and a stir fry for dinner. Enjoying warm zephyrs as they waft over your body during your daily beach-side massage while you figure out how to spend your millions sitting in the bank.

More likely you are going to dive straight back into the stress pot that is working and living in crowded conditions, driving in congested traffic, grabbing food on the go, battling germs and trying to get hot food on the table every night for hungry hordes. Whilst counting the number of pennies you have left to last the month.

A good place to start – Give your liver a New Year’s holiday.

There is one organ in particular that struggles as much as you under the daily burden of modern life and that is your liver. I am not going to give chapter and verse on this vital organ since I have previous posts that are recommended reading. We are told that our hearts are the organ to protect but in fact it is our liver which is the powerhouse behind our health and vitality.

If you are really serious about improving your overall health and also losing weight then I do suggest you read these more in depth posts to appreciate how important your liver is. Smorgasbord Health Column

The Liver in a Nutshell

Your liver has two essential roles, making or processing chemicals and eliminating toxins and waste. Without the portal system none of the nutrients that you have carefully processed and passed into the intestines could be carried in the blood, through the liver, to nourish the body and provide you with energy. It is not really the liver that does all the work but the millions and millions of cells within the liver that maintain the critical life processes. Specialist cells called hepatocytes deal with the raw materials our body runs on – proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

The liver stores iron as well as other vitamins and minerals that you need, such as Vitamin B12. The organ also makes clotting factors that stop bleeding after injury, and without which you could bleed to death.

Your liver helps manage the cholesterol in your body – and the body needs cholesterol – but like anything in excess it can do more harm than good. It forms the base molecule for hormones like oestrogen and testosterone, and it is also the base for bile acids that are used to emulsify fat in the small bowel so that fat and fat soluble vitamins like E and K can be absorbed.

The good news that if you frequently give your liver a break and a chance to recuperate it will regenerate. All except for parts of the liver than have suffered scarring from liver disease. In six weeks you can improve its function greatly and I know from experience, when I do this gentle detox three times a year for six weeks, that I feel and look so much younger.

The tell-tale signs of an overworked liver can be seen in your face. If you constantly have puffy eyes, slightly yellow skin tones and you feel nauseous when you have eaten fatty foods you are likely to be overworking your liver.

Gentle Detox – Phase One.

As we go through the short series, I will be giving you shopping lists and explaining why certain foods are better for you and some recipes as well as talking you through some other detox guidelines. However the first thing that I am going to ask you to do for the sake of your liver is to drastically reduce just one thing from your diet.

Sugar in the form of alcohol, chocolate and sweets, all fizzy drinks (even the zero or low calorie with artificial sweeteners), high sugar pastries and biscuits.

If you do not eat sugary foods in great quantities and do not drink alcohol and daily fizzy drinks, the chances are that your liver is already in good shape. However, if you are reading this then you probably looking to lose some weight as well as get healthier and giving them up entirely for six weeks will help.

However, these sugary foods and drinks are the ones that we have probably overindulged in over the lead up and during Christmas. I am not going to sugar coat this (sorry). Whilst you may have the odd craving because of the fats (in chocolate) and the sugars you will be amazed at the difference in energy levels and weight you can experience by not eating them.

This does not mean that I am anti-fat; in fact I am very keen that you should have natural fats during the detox including some olive oil, grass fed dairy products and coconut oil if you prefer the taste. But it should be in moderation and used in food preparation rather than as a recreational drug!

Cheese is delicious for example, but it is very easy to nibble away at, and consume 1000 calories quickly, whereas you are unlikely to drink a cupful of olive oil! The same with chocolate -it is so easy to eat 100gm bar in one sitting which is 500 calories….

If you are tempted to switch off now perhaps I can give you an incentive.

If you normally drink a glass of wine per night, eat a small bar of chocolate and eat 100gm of cheese every day, at the end of six weeks of abstaining, you will likely lose between 10lbs and 14lbs in weight. And if you tend to leave these foods until the weekend and stock up with a week’s worth at time you will actually be doing your liver more harm… It will be overwhelmed.

Giving up alcohol for 6 weeks will make a big difference to your liver function. Giving up sugars such as those in chocolate, even more difference, and reducing the amount of cheese will make a little more.

If you use healthy fats like a scrape of butter on your toast or a small amount of olive oil or coconut oil for your cooking that is fine.

Normally, I have the philosophy that a little of everything in moderation is good for you and apply the 20/80 rule myself.

But during this first 6 weeks of the year…. I stop drinking alcohol and eating chocolate and cheese completely, and you will be surprised how at the end of that time, you will have lost the craving for the fats and sugars and food will taste differently. That effect can last all year if you continue to moderate the amount of sugars that you consume and I have seen clients who have adopted this approach lose 52lbs by the following Christmas.

This in part is down to a desire, once a few pounds have evaporated, to do more exercise, and take the goal of a healthier weight to the next level (more about that when I share the updated new version of Size Matters later in January).

Some health issues should also improve as you lose weight and your risk factors for diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease reduce too.

Fizzy drinks

There is little doubt that drinking too much alcohol is bad for your health in many respects. Your liver, brain and immune system come under immense pressure when they have to deal with excessive amounts and the long term effect on health is measureable. However, these days, the alternatives that are on every shelf of the supermarket and in bars and restaurants, should not be the first thing you turn to when moderating your alcohol consumption.

The worst offenders are the carbonated drinks. Fruit juices without added sugars and additives mixed with mineral water or undiluted are fine in moderation. They too are high in fruit acids that can cause some tooth damage if you do not clean your teeth at least twice a day, particularly at night.

It is the processed canned and bottled fizzy drinks that really do have some harmful effects on not only the teeth but also our operational systems in the body and structural health of skin and bones.

The effects of fizzy drinks on our health

Scientific studies have shown that as little as one or two soft drinks a day can increase your risk of developing a number of medical problems such as obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, osteoporosis, nutritional deficiencies, heart disease and neurological problems.

Most of the calories in soft drinks are in the form of refined sugars or artificial sugars and they have absolutely no other nutritional content. In one study by Dr. Charles Best who discovered insulin by the way, it was shown that teenagers who drink too many soft drinks could develop cirrhosis of the liver, something we normally associate with chronic alcoholism.

You can read the complete article on fizzy drinks: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/09/12/smorgasbord-health-2017-the-soda-stream-worth-125-billion-dollars-a-year-at-the-cost-of-your-health-2/

Possible side effects during a detox.

You will also notice that for the first few days that you may feel some fatigue, bloating and possibly flu like symptoms. This is both withdrawal from consuming over rich foods, in particular sugar, and your body getting rid of the toxins that are stored.

It is important to drink at least 8 glasses of fresh water every day to help the body do this. You might also like to drink some Dandelion Tea a couple of times a day although not late at night as it is a diuretic. (more about that next time)  I also take an herbal supplement to assist my liver as it detoxes, although I usually start taking Milk Thistle before the celebrations and during them.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/19/smorgasbord-health-column-buy-your-liver-a-gift-for-christmas-moderation-and-milk-thistle-by-sally-cronin/

Diet drinks, shakes and bars

Before you rush out and buy your pre-packaged diet shakes and drinks to lose weight perhaps you might wait until after you have read tomorrow’s post in the series where I will be talking about the actual nutritional worth of shakes and bars and offering some alternatives.

I hope you have found this of interest and I will be posting another Gentle Detox over the weekend. Thanks Sally.

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

A little bit about me nutritionally.

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with over 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 by health books and fiction you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2018/

 If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to ask in the comments.. or if you prefer send in an email to sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Smorgasbord Health Column – Buy your Liver a gift for Christmas- Moderation and Milk Thistle…by Sally Cronin


As we get fully engaged with the festive season there is one particular organ in the body which deserves some consideration. When you are offered your fifth mince pie or another glass of eggnog – it is not usual for you to think…….

“OMG NO my poor liver cannot take another drop”!

However, the next day your liver is likely to let you know that it did not appreciate quite so much, all at the same time. People wonder why at Christmas they often end up with either a stomach upset or a cold. Well, part of the answer is that your liver can only handle so much toxicity at one time before getting into overload and once that happens your immune system is likely to go downhill faster than Eddie the Eagle.

However, there is help at hand and with a little thought and consideration for the organ that protects your health for your entire life.

Moderation and Milk Thistle are your best friend for the next few weeks…..

As with in any complementary medicine, it is important not to assume that it is either safe to use or that it will cure your condition. In the case of herbal therapy there is a great deal of written and oral evidence, over centuries in some instances, that it is an effective and safe way to support the body and when appropriate can be used in conjunction with conventional medicine. In the case of Milk Thistle trials have indicated that even at high doses there is little known toxicity.

Thistles are part of the daisy family, found mainly in Europe, Asia and Australia, especially dry and sunny areas. It can grow very quickly to over 10 feet and produces a milky white sap when the distinctive green and white leaves are crushed. It is a plant that takes over and smothers other growth so is not always welcome. It has been used medicinally for at least the last 2,000 years and it was highly regarded by the Romans. It has undergone extensive research and in some parts of Europe, like Germany, it is the most commonly used herbal therapy.

Scientific studies into the effects of the herb are mixed but do support the belief that taking Milk Thistle has positive benefits for the liver. It might also have some anti-cancer properties but this will take considerably more research to confirm.

Traditionally, no self-respecting medicine man or woman would have been without the herb, especially for the treatment of poisonous mushrooms, including the Death Cap. One wonders how many cave dwellers died after ritual partying before the medicine man found the right hangover remedy in Milk Thistle! Although I suspect he had other tricks up his sleeve!

 

The liver has over 500 functions in its role as guardian of our health and it is vital it is kept working at an optimum level. If your liver is sluggish you may notice a few symptoms that indicate a need to look at your diet but also at ways to encourage the organ to function better.

If you suffer from headaches at the side of your head that sometimes affect the eyes, or you feel nauseous after eating fatty foods, or find it difficult to get going in the morning you may be suffering from liver fatigue. In Victorian times grumpy old men and women were termed ‘liverish’ due to increased stress and irritation levels.

How does milk thistle work?

Milk thistle (Silybum Marianum) helps protect the liver and encourages it to regenerate. It protects against incoming toxins and also assists the liver to cleanse itself of alcohol, drugs, heavy metals, and poisons. It is also helpful in treating congestion of the kidneys and the spleen.

By stimulating the release of bile from the liver and the gall-bladder the whole digestive process is improved, which in turn ensures that any nutrients are absorbed more effectively. It also supports the liver in its role of purifying the blood, for this reason it has been used in support of treatment for psoriasis and other skin conditions.

Silymarin is the main component of milk thistle seeds and is a flavonoid containing 4 isomers – Silybinin, silychristin, silydianin and isosilybinin. Silymarin works directly with the cell membranes of the liver preventing damage and encouraging re-growth.

Research into the actions of this herb indicates that it helps reduce inflammation in hepatitis, soften the lesions caused by cirrhosis and helps detox livers that are cancerous. Anyone taking long term medication will also find that taking milk thistle (with the agreement of your doctor) may alleviate some of the side effects and help the liver process and eliminate the drugs more effectively.

How do you take milk thistle?

Milk thistle is an herb that is not soluble in water so you cannot make a tea from leaves, or extract. It is soluble in alcohol, which is why it is found in tincture form, and in capsules. One of the most effective ways to take it is as part of a complex where other herbs such as dandelion, artichoke and peppermint are included. These herbs are also very supportive of the liver – as artichoke helps reduce cholesterol and blood lipid levels; dandelion is a mild diuretic and laxative and has long been used to help with liver and gall bladder problems; and peppermint is a general aid to digestion and helps relax muscles.

Normally you would take 15 to 20 drops, twice a day in a little water, as an adult. It is one of the herbs that is not recommended for children. As a precaution, you should always ask a qualified herbalist before giving herbal medicines to children, or anyone pregnant. This also applies to patients who are HIV positive.

As with any herbal treatment it is a good idea to take a break from the therapy from time to time. If you have been taking it for three months, take a break for about six weeks before resuming. It is also a good idea to keep a diary of how you feel during treatment, as it will help you note improvements. Also, do not forget that herbs to not necessarily work overnight. They need time and it can take several weeks to notice appreciable differences in the way you feel.

Provided you have consulted your doctor there should be no problem taking milk thistle in conjunction with prescribed medication for hepatitis, gall-bladder disease and during recovery from alcoholism. One of the areas in which it may be very helpful is during chemotherapy, but in this instance it is extremely important that your medical team are consulted, as it will affect the potency of your treatment.

As you can see it is one of those herbal remedies that are useful to have around at Christmas time. The liver takes a great deal of punishment and apart from keeping hydrated and alternating alcohol drinks with water, I also suggest that you take Milk Thistle from now until after New Year. Then move to a gentle detox with the herb as part of a complex for the rest of January.

This of course does not mean you have a free licence – this poor herb can only do so much!

For those of you who want to enjoy good quality non-alcoholic wines here is a link to some of the best. I usually have some non-alcoholic beer, sparkling wine, red and white wine on hand when we have people over as not everyone enjoys alcohol.

The best of the non-alcoholic wines…
http://www.arielvineyards.com/
http://www.nonalcoholicwinesonline.com/catalog/
http://www.alcoholfree.co.uk/

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

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 by health books and fiction you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2018/

 If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to ask in the comments.. or if you prefer send in an email to sally.cronin@moyhill.com

 

Smorgasbord Health Column – 84 million Americans and 100’s of millions worldwide are at risk of developing Diabetes


I posted on pre-diabetes two years ago, but the latest statistics are in and they make for very worrying reading. It is estimated that there are 84 million Americans who are pre-diabetic and are at very high risk of developing full blown diabetes. CDC January 2018

According to the World Health Authority it is estimated that there are 400 million people worldwide with diabetes. In the US around 30 million and the UK approximately 3.8 million have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately it is the many millions who are undiagnosed that are at the greatest risk

You do not need to have full-blown diabetes to be suffering from some of the symptoms associated with the disease. There is a condition called pre-diabetes that can be managed with diet and exercise and does not have to lead to the development of type 2 diabetes in the future.

It is also called impaired glucose intolerance and in my experience very closely connected with lifestyle and diet and a possible overgrowth of Candida Albicans. Being overweight, not doing enough exercise and elevated LDL cholesterol levels are also part of the equation. LDL (low density lipoprotein) has smaller particles than the HDL (high density lipoprotein) and because of this it is easier for the LDL to clump and form plaque in the arteries which will narrow them causing a blockage.

Symptoms of Pre-Diabetes

There are a number of symptoms that you might experience either singularly or in combination with one or more of the others.

  • Feeling hungry all the time
  • Losing or gaining weight without much change to your diet
  • Feeling weak as if you might have the flu
  • Slow healing of cuts or bruises
  • Unexplained skin rashes
  • Bladder infections
  • Vision problems.

If pre-diabetes is tackled positively with food and exercise the symptoms can disappear in a few weeks and if the healthy approach is maintained there should not be any further reason for concern.

Unfortunately some people do not suffer any symptoms at all making this a silent disease and if this is the case it might not be detected until the person is suffering from full blown diabetes.

If you are at all concerned a simple blood test will identify if you are at risk and your Doctor of Pharmacy will talk you through the process. 

Taking the first step to avoiding the development of diabetes.

The evidence is very strongly pointing toward lifestyle and diet changes as being the most effective way of dealing with the problem and it is very easy to incorporate the right foods in an appetising way as part of a healthy programme. Even a 10% change to weight can make a huge difference and adding a brisk walk a day, five days a week for 30 minutes at least is also very important.

What are some of the dietary changes necessary.

Apart from getting to a healthier weight there are some other dietary changes you can make to reduce your blood sugar levels. There are certain foods that will cause your blood sugar levels to rise and I cover that in the second part of this subject where I look at the Glycemic value of foods and their effect on the body.

Fibre is important – Apart from the nutrients that wholegrains, fruit and vegetables supply they also contain great amounts of fibre necessary to clean the circulatory system of cholesterol plaque and toxins, keeping the blood clear of unnecessary additives.

Protein is essential and it should not be taken out of the diet. Protein does not have to come from animal sources but if you choose to be vegetarian then make sure you are including beans and fermented soya products for example.

It is our liver that is instrumental in determining our cholesterol levels in combination with certain foods. However, there are some myths surrounding certain foods such as avocados and eggs, which are very misleading.

Fat is absolutely necessary in our diets and there is no evidence to show that eating plant based fats, eggs and animal lean protein moderately causes high cholesterol. It is the hydrogenated fats found in processed protein such as hams, sausages and pastries and other processed prepared foods that are likely to cause a problem.

What about refined sugars and their role in our diet.

We live in a real world and as a Candida or pre-diabetes sufferer it would be pretty miserable without some sugar in your diet. However I do recommend that for the first six weeks you give up sugar completely except for a piece of low GI fruit each day.

The types of sweeteners used by food manufacturers are not natural and many are downright toxic. The one thing that I am definitely sure about is that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharine, sucralose and acesulfame-k have no place in our food chain.

Exercise

When you exercise your body uses insulin which controls your blood sugar levels. If you’re doing moderate exercise for a longer time, your muscles take up glucose at several times the normal rate. This is the type of exercise you should be aiming for.

Start slowly for 30 minutes walking slowly over a fixed distance and then increase you pace over the same distance until you are walking briskly, just slightly out of breath. Then increase your distance each week until you are walking a mile in 15 minutes.

Carbohydrates

The other recent trend is to demonise all carbohydrates including grains as being the culprits behind most of our modern ills. As with all food advice, one size does not fit all and I am not an advocate for cutting out all food groups entirely based on what is the trend at the moment. We need varying amounts of the main food groups as we get older and complete the transition to adulthood. However, there comes a time in later life when our digestive system is not so effective, when we need to increase certain food groups to ensure we are getting sufficient nutrients.

Our bodies have evolved over several hundred thousands of years. We were and still are opportunistic feeders. Whatever we could get our hands on. The biggest problem occurred when we no longer had to travel miles a day to either hunt or gather our food. That would have included seasonal game, fish, wild grains, berries and fruit, roots, honey etc. It would have been eaten raw until the discovery of fire and we would have not bothered cutting off the fat or counting the calories.

However, today we just have to pop into the car, drive to the nearest supermarket and fill our trollies with foods from all over the world, all year around. That is where ‘moderation’ comes in. Now that most of us, certainly in the western world have so much food available it is down to us to be careful about how much we consume of this bounty.

The glycemic value of the foods that we eat has an impact on our blood glucose levels and I have found that my clients following a lower glycemic approach to carbohydrates and the other foods have found it effective in maintaining a healthy level.

THE GLYCEMIC INDEX.

Not all carbohydrate foods behave the same way when eaten. The Glycemic index or GI describes this difference by ranking carbohydrates according to their effect on our blood glucose levels.   Foods are ranked according to their effect in relation to pure sugar which would be 100.

So a food that is ranked at 50 has a much slower effect on blood glucose levels than sugar which causes a much faster reaction. The slower the reaction the less insulin is released into the bloodstream.

This results in less fat being stored, particularly around the hips and thighs.

A low Glycemic diet reduces the onset of dramatic fluctuations in blood sugar levels and therefore will regulate the feelings of hunger. In addition lower Glycemic foods are usually much higher in nutrients and fibre having an overall effect on health.

Low Glycemic Index foods are slowly digested, releasing sugar (glucose) into the bloodstream gradually, resulting in a slow and steady increase in blood sugar that helps keep your body functioning well for longer than high GI foods.

High Glycemic Index foods are quickly digested and metabolized, producing a rapid rise in blood sugar. It’s best to avoid these high GI foods that cause spikes in blood sugar that can result in your body “crashing” or feeling hungry again quite quickly after you eat.

LOW GLYCEMIC FOODS (under the value of 55) Can eat daily

  • Most Vegetables: asparagus, avocados, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, carrots (small portion) cauliflower, green beans, peas, celery, red cabbage, cucumber, lettuce particularly rocket, mushrooms, onions (very important as they contain chromium which naturally controls blood sugar levels), Garlic, peppers, spinach squash and yams.
  • Fruits: apples, apricots, grapes, blueberries, cherries, lemons raspberries, strawberries, grapefruit, oranges, peaches, pears, plums, prunes
  • Juices: apple, grapefruit, pineapple, tomato (unsweetened) small glass and add sparkling water to dilute.
  • Legumes: black, navy, pinto, and kidney beans; chickpeas; lentils; black-eyed peas
  • Starches: The key is to have a moderate portion and always have protein with it as this offsets the Glycemic affect. So for example:- porridge with milk (but not lots of sweeteners). Sandwich with chicken etc. Piece of toast with an egg. You must avoid white processed carbohydrates however and this includes biscuits, cakes and white bread as these are most likely to contain artificial sweeteners and trans-fats. I find that whole grain baguettes made in most large supermarket bakeries have few additives but check labels. Or make yourself
  • Milk products– cheese is wonderful but it is fattening – Milk in tea and on cereals is not a problem but if you are trying to lose weight then go easy when pouring. A piece of mature cheddar a couple of times a week if you are exercising and eating lots of vegetables and lean protein is not an issue – much better than eating a bar of chocolate. Fermented yoghurts may have some benefit on intestinal flora and help the digestive process – watch for sugar content – plain is quite boring but you can add nuts or a small amount of the low glycemic fruit to improve.
  • Sweeteners: I have used Stevia – I don’t particular advocate because I think it just feeds your sugar craving. I am suspicious of other artificial alternatives and if you can do without entirely. If not then like salt, use pinches of sugar to sprinkle on your cereal rather than a teaspoon, it will teach your taste buds to expect less!
  • Beverages –Start the day with hot water and fresh squeezed lemon. Not only does it hydrate, give your body a Vitamin C hit but it also gets the digestive process started, helps the liver and retrains your taste buds. You should find within a week that you no longer have a sugar craving. Tea is fine – green tea is excellent as it lowers blood sugar levels. Scientists are on the fence about coffee consumption – some research indicates that it might reduce blood sugar levels and others the opposite. My advice is if you enjoy a cup of coffee then get ground decaffeinated and have a cup every day and enjoy!
  • Protein. You need protein every day but not as much as people think. If you are eating yoghurts and drinking milk you will be obtaining protein but you can also eat 1 oz. cottage cheese – 1 egg – prawns – chicken – lamb, pork or fish per day. Avoid red meat as this can increase sugar cravings. Oily fish are good for you so try to eat three times a week this includes fresh sardines, salmon and tuna. I would suggest that you also use goat’s cheese and feta cheese as an alternative. Also in Spinach, broccoli and Brussel sprouts.
  • Salad dressings. Make your own with low fat yoghurt and lemon juice, or cider or balsamic vinegar and herbs.
  • Nuts and seeds. Walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and almonds. Made up into 2oz packets and used for snacks – the healthy fat will act as a brake on the insulin production and will help with hunger pangs. Buy from a good source and make the mix yourself – unsalted of course. Find the right size zip lock bags and they will keep for ages. Take one to work with you as one of your snacks.
  • Oils– Very important to include extra virgin olive oil for dressings as this is a fat that is good for you. Would suggest that you also use this on bread rather than butter and mix with seasonings to use on vegetables and salads. For cooking use ordinary olive oil and I find that rather than frying, it is a good idea to brush some oil onto your meat, fish or poultry and bake in the oven.

MEDIUM GYLCEMIC FOODS(56 -69) eat two or three times a week.

  • Vegetables: white and sweet potatoes
  • Fruits: bananas, tropical fruits (mango, cantaloupe, papaya, pineapple), kiwi fruit, raisins, figs, fruit cocktail
  • Juices: orange,
  • Starches: cous cous
  • Cereals: oats, homemade muesli (without dried sugar) Weetabix.
  • Sweeteners: honey (Manuka honey can be consumed more often)

HIGH GLYCEMIC FOODS(above 70) eat very occasionally.

  • Fruits: watermelon, dates
  • Processed foods– It is important over the initial period to avoid processed sauces, meats, meals or anything else that might have hidden sugars or too many carbohydrates. Prepare everything fresh – for example pasta sauce with fresh tomatoes, onions, mushrooms etc.
  • Snacks: popcorn, rice cakes, most crackers (soda, Stoned Wheat Thins, Water Crackers), cakes, doughnuts, croissants, muffins, waffles, white bread, baguette, bagels
  • Starches: millet
  • Most Cereals: Bran Flakes, Cheerio’s, Cornflakes, Rice Krispies, Shredded Wheat, Special K, Total or any cereal that is sugar coated.
  • Sweeteners/Sweets: table sugar, hard candy, soft drinks, sports drinks, fizzy diet drinks, chocolate except for 2 squares of dark (85%) chocolate once or twice a week.
  • Alcohol. It is a good idea to give up alcohol all together for six weeks if you want to stabilise your blood sugar levels.

Eating Patterns.

Personally I eat within an eight hour window every day which is a form of Intermittent Fasting that suits me best. This gives my body 16 hours each day to get on with what it needs to do in the way of processing the food I have eaten, extracting the nutrients and also allowing for some downtime for major organs such as the liver.

If you usually finish eating at 6.00pm then you can easily eat three balanced meals a day with a couple of snacks between if you need additional energy but they should be nuts, seeds and certain low GI fruits rather than chocolate bars.

This does not mean that if you enjoy chocolate that you cannot eat it. I have two squares of dark chocolate each day after my lunch. (Antioxidants).

©sallygeorginacronin Just Food For Health 1998-2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

The Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – My annual reminder – Before you Indulge..think Milk Thistle


For some of you it is Thanksgiving this week which is a wonderful opportunity to meet with family and friends and of course over indulge. This celebration kicks off the festive season and from the first week in December there will be Christmas parties at every opportunity and good intentions fly out the window as the sausages on sticks and mince pies are handed around.

Do not get me wrong… I am with you 100% and Christmas is one of my favourite times of year when chocolate coins and almond paste are on the top of my to do list! However, there are two major organs in the body that find this month of the year extremely confusing and upsetting. Our brain and our liver.

The brain turns into a pinball machine with all its pleasure and reward centres being pinged off regularly as we hand around the treats and sit down to laden tables. For the rest of the year most of us are moderate eaters with just the occasional blip, but at Christmas the restraints are off and our eyes and taste buds are in charge of proceedings.

This results in some pretty dramatic chemical changes in our brain that has a knock on effect on the glands of the body. The immune system is impacted which is why it is so easy to pick up a cold or the flu as we mingle with family and friends. As the sugar floods our bloodstream our blood sugar levels play havoc with our kidneys and our energy levels.

mince pies

The liver is in no position to help us out. Normally it happily removes toxins and waste from the body and releases stores that help with digestion and protect us. For the next few weeks it will be working overtime and it will not be able to do its job causing a build up of toxins in the cells of the body. This is not helped by all the antacids and over the counter painkillers that are knocked back in December and early January.

That is the bad news. The good news is that there are ways to support the body and the liver through the festive season. The first strategy is to use your usual common sense and know when you have had enough!! The second is to make sure that you drink plenty of water throughout the day to flush out toxins. The third is to eat light, fresh meals on the days that you are not indulging in heavy celebrations so that you give your body and major organs a break. Finally you can take a herbal remedy in the form of Milk Thistle to help support your liver as it works overtime in December.

As with in any complementary medicine, it is important not to assume that it is either safe to use or that it will cure your condition. In the case of herbal therapy there is a great deal of written and oral evidence, over centuries in some instances, that it is an effective and safe way to support the body and when appropriate can be used in conjunction with conventional medicine. In the case of milk thistle, trials have indicated that even at high doses there is little known toxicity.

Thistles are part of the daisy family, found mainly in Europe, Asia and Australia, especially dry and sunny areas. It can grew very quickly to over 10 feet and produces a milky white sap when the distinctive green and white leaves are crushed. It is a plant that takes over and smothers other growth so is not always welcome. It has been used medicinally for the last 2,000 years and it was highly regarded by the Romans. It has undergone extensive research and in some parts of Europe, like Germany, it is the most commonly used herbal therapy.

Scientific studies into the effects of the herb are mixed but do show some indications that taking Milk Thistle has positive benefits for the liver. It might also have some anti-cancer properties but this will take considerably more research to confirm. Traditionally, no self-respecting medicine man or woman would have been without the herb, especially for the treatment of poisonous mushrooms, including the Death Cap.

The liver has over 500 functions in its role as guardian of our health and it is vital it is kept working at an optimum level. If your liver is sluggish you may notice a few symptoms that indicate a need to look at your diet but also at ways to encourage the organ to function better. If you suffer from headaches at the side of your head that sometimes affects the eyes, or you feel nauseous after eating fatty foods, or find it difficult to get going in the morning you may be suffering from liver fatigue. In Victorian times grumpy old men and women were termed ‘liverish’ due to increased stress and irritation levels.

How does milk thistle work?

Milk thistle (Silybum Marianum) helps protect the liver and encourages it to regenerate. It protects against incoming toxins and also assists the liver to cleanse itself of alcohol, drugs, heavy metals, and poisons. It is also helpful in treating congestion of the kidneys and the spleen.

By stimulating the release of bile from the liver and the gall-bladder the whole digestive process is improved, which in turn ensures that any nutrients are absorbed more effectively. It also supports the liver in its role of purifying the blood, for this reason it has been used in support of treatment for psoriasis and other skin conditions.

Silymarin is the main component of milk thistle seeds and is a flavonoid containing 4 isomers – Silybinin, silychristin, silydianin and isosilybinin. Silymarin works directly with the cell membranes of the liver preventing damage and encouraging re-growth.

Research into the actions of this herb indicates that it helps reduce inflammation in hepatitis, soften the lesions caused by cirrhosis and helps detox livers that are cancerous. Anyone taking long term medication will also find that taking milk thistle (with the agreement of your doctor) may alleviate some of the side effects and help the liver process and eliminate the drugs more effectively.

How do you take milk thistle?

Milk thistle is an herb that is not soluble in water so you cannot make a tea from leaves, or extract. It is soluble in alcohol, which is why it is found in tincture form, and in capsules. One of the most effective ways to take it is as part of a complex where other herbs such as dandelion, artichoke and peppermint are included. These herbs are also very supportive of the liver – as artichoke helps reduce cholesterol and blood lipid levels; dandelion is a mild diuretic and laxative and has long been used to help with liver and gall bladder problems; and peppermint is a general aid to digestion and helps relax muscles.

Normally you would take 15 to 20 drops, twice a day in a little water, as an adult. It is one of the herbs that is not recommended for children. As a precaution, you should always ask a qualified herbalist before giving herbal medicines to children, or anyone pregnant. This also applies to patients who are HIV positive.

As with any herbal treatment it is a good idea to take a break from the therapy from time to time. If you have been taking it for three months, take a break for about six weeks before resuming. It is also a good idea to keep a diary of how you feel during treatment, as it will help you note improvements. Also, do not forget that herbs to not necessarily work overnight. They need time and it can take several weeks to notice appreciable differences in the way you feel.

Provided you have consulted your doctor there should be no problem taking milk thistle in conjunction with prescribed medication for hepatitis, gall-bladder disease and during recovery from alcoholism. One of the areas in which it may be very helpful is during chemotherapy, but in this instance it is extremely important that your medical team are consulted, as it will affect the potency of your treatment.

It is one of those herbal remedies that are useful to have around at Christmas time. As I have mentioned the liver takes a great deal of punishment at this time of year and apart from keeping hydrated and alternating alcohol drinks with water, I also suggest that you take Milk Thistle from now until after New Year. Then move to a gentle detox with the herb as part of a complex for the rest of January.

This of course does not mean you have a free licence – this poor herb can only do so much!

I am happy to answer any questions you have about health posts.. If it would benefit everyone then please leave in the comments section. Or you can contact me via sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Thanks for dropping by and love to have your feedback. 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 – Top To Toe -The Digestive System- Liver Disease.


Smorgasbord Health 2017 Last time I looked at the structure and basic function of the liver and in this post I want to cover some of the conditions that can effect this major organ.

Because the liver is such a complex organ there are over 100 diseases that can affect its health.

We tend to associate liver damage with conditions resulting from drinking to much, such as alcoholic hepatitis or the viral infections, Hepatitis A and the more dangerous serum Hepatitis B. Hep A is transmitted from contaminated food and water, and Hep B from sexual contact, infected needles or contaminated blood products. Some diseases of the liver are hereditary and are usually diagnosed in a baby or young toddler. These include Alagille syndrome, Alpha 1-Antitrypsin deficiency, autoimmune hepatitis, the result of an abnormal immune system at birth, Galactosemia, Wilson’s disease – the abnormal storage of copper – and Haemochromatosis – the abnormal storage of iron.

There are also the dangers of long term medication. As with everything else we ingest, the medication also needs to go through the liver to be processed. This also applies to extensive exposure to chemicals in a home or work environment. Both are likely to overwork the liver and cause damage.

It is obvious that hereditary conditions and viral infections require treatment by medical experts. What we are concerned with is the general health of the liver to prevent damage and to improve function by making some adjustments to our lifestyles.

What is cirrhosis of the liver?

Cirrhosis occurs when scar tissue replaces dead or injured liver cells. It is caused by disease, or more commonly alcoholism and increasingly the ingestion of processed foods and drinks containing high levels of refined sugars. The scarring distorts the normal structure and re-growth of liver cells and the flow of blood through the liver, from the intestines, is blocked. This restricts the functions carried out by the liver, such as processing proteins or toxins.

This in turn can lead to other medical problems such as gallstones, toxicity and fluid retention in the legs and abdomen. Because the liver produces proteins that help clot the blood, damage can lead to excessive or prolonged bleeding – both internally and from cuts and injuries.

There is no cure for cirrhosis but the spread of the scarring can be stopped, and improvement in the health of the liver achieved in most cases, if the original cause of the damage is removed: – For example, by stopping drinking alcohol, reducing drastically the consumption of processed drinks and foods and eating a natural unprocessed diet of healthy fats, vegetables and fruits.

We also associate severe liver problems with older people who have spent a lifetime indulging across the board. However, more and more teenagers and young adults are presenting with liver damage. The cause is not excessive alcohol but excessive consumption of soft drinks containing sugars, acid and artificial sweeteners and a reliance on the ‘white diet’. White carbohydrates, unhealthy manufactured fats and refined sugars such as high fructose corn syrup.

How do we help the liver cope with everyday pressures?

So whilst alcohol certainly plays a role in the development of cirrhosis you do not have to be a chronic alcoholic to get the disease. The good news is that alcoholic hepatitis does not necessarily lead to cirrhosis of the liver, and certainly not to the extent where a transplant is required. It can take many years of dedicated drinking to reach that stage, but that will depend on the person.

No one person is the same and I often quote the saying “one man’s meat is another man’s poison”. We are all unique and this applies to our internal operating systems as well. I am sure that we have been to parties and watched one person have two glasses of wine and be as drunk as a lord and someone else down drink after drink without any apparent affect. That is to say that from the outside they look okay but of course their liver may be telling a different story.

As we get older we understand that the aftermath of a drinking session is unpleasant in the extreme and the effects can last a couple of days – unfortunately some of the remedies add to the strain on the liver- especially frequent use of over the counter pain medication. Hopefully most of us adapt to a more moderate approach.

Unfortunately that is not at times with the young.  Like the latest online drinking craze –Neknomination – which has already resulted in the death of at least five young people in the UK.  Alcohol poisoning is not a game.  Commonly, patients requiring treatment for liver disease were in their 50’s and 60’s.  There are now people in their 20’s and 30’s being diagnosed with chronic liver damage and some are on the transplant list!

How can we help ourselves?

Like many internal organs, the liver has a primary purpose in life and that is for the host body to survive. It will struggle daily to cope with excessive stress and harmful contaminants and it is often only when it is in the final stages of disease that we see the external evidence for ourselves.  The early symptoms can be hard to spot but generally there will be consistent nausea, intestinal upsets, fatigue and loss of appetite.  If these symptoms are ignored then more dangerous symptoms will develop including signs of jaundice which results in yellowing of the whites of the eyes and a yellow tint to the skin.

Also bloated abdomen, confusion leading to coma and possible death.  If you are experiencing any of the early signs then do go and get checked out by your doctor.

Generally speaking, drinking more than two or three drinks per day is going to affect your liver to some degree. Binge drinking at the weekend is something we are all guilty of from time to time. We do not have a drink all week and then on the weekend we go out for a meal or have friends around enjoying pre-dinner drinks and a few glasses of wine followed by a couple or more liqueurs. This is a binge as far as your liver is concerned, particularly if it is accompanied by a rich meal full of fats and proteins that require processing.

As I have already stated, soft drinks have their dangers – and certainly there has been a worrying increase in the number of teenagers from as early at 11 years old exhibiting signs of liver damage. In America where you have been able to buy 24oz fizzy drinks – or receive them free as part of a fast food meal – this trend is more than worrying. The main culprit is high fructose corn syrup the main component of soft drinks.

I am not going to go into detail as there is an interesting and thought provoking article that every parent should read and if not a parent then those of you who are consuming even moderate amounts of certain soft drinks and eating processed foods.

http://drhyman.com/blog/2011/05/13/5-reasons-high-fructose-corn-syrup-will-kill-you/

The liver, like the rest of the body, needs antioxidants to prevent oxidative damage. A diet high in processed foods is not only going to give the liver even more work to do, processing additives and excess chemicals such as phosphorus, but is also not going to give it the raw materials it requires for its own health.

I am afraid that we women are more likely to suffer liver damage, as we tend to have a higher concentration of alcohol in our blood. We have more body fat and less water than a man does so we handle booze differently. Even if we do not drink we can still cause damage to our liver by having a very high-fat diet. The liver again is overworked and whilst a moderate intake of fats is necessary for the nutrients it contains, it needs to be part of a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, fruit and wholegrains that all work with the fat in harmony.

I often caution against deleting a food group from our diet as we are programmed to take the essential nutrients from across the board. Carbohydrates have their role in this but white, high fat and sugary processed foods are not carbohydrates they are cardboard. Eat whole grains every day – if you have a gluten intolerance or find wheat hard to digest then brown rice, corn and organic oats may suit you.

So whilst many of us focus on our heart health – that organ is affected by the health of the liver which removes toxins from our body to prevent the storage of these poisons in every  cell including those in the heart.

Other posts in the Top to Toe series can be found here:

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