Smorgasbord Health – The Blood – The foods and menu.


As we get older, our bodies find it more difficult to metabolise the food that we eat in an efficient manner. Illness and stress can also cause deficiencies to occur. As I have covered in the last few blogs, one of the most common health problems we are likely to encounter is anaemia in varying degrees from mild to dangerous levels. The aim is to consume a diet rich in the specific nutrients needed to maintain healthy blood but it is difficult to visualise when someone simply tells you to eat B6, B12, Folate etc. So I have put together those nutrients with the foods that contain them so that you can just pop to the supermarket and fill your trolley.

I would suggest that anyone who like me is 60+ should include these foods on a regular basis in your daily diet.

This specific eating plan includes the foods that will provide you with the necessary nutrients for healthy blood but do remember that if you are exhibiting any symptoms that indicate you are anaemic you should go to your doctor and seek medical advice. You will find those in one of the previous posts which are linked to below.

As always I do stress that it is better to ‘cook from scratch’ but there are certain staples that you can include in your pantry. Many people prefer an easy start to the day with a bowl of cereal and perhaps a piece of toast. Cereals today are very different from our childhood when all you got was the grain. Today I am afraid you are likely to get a lot more sugar and salt which somewhat negates the benefit of the wholegrain. If I have cereal I have porridge oats but for the sake of variety do check the labels and buy wholegrain varieties with as little sugar as possible.

In recent months there has been a lot of speculation about wholegrains in our diet in relation to what is referred to as our ‘gut brain’. I covered the topic in an earlier series on digestion but my opinion remains the same. Provided you are not celiac or have chronic intestinal problems, wholegrains are essential in our diets to provide B vitamins, other nutrients and fibre. We certainly need less as we get older because our activity levels drop but carbohydrates from grains are needed to provide the fuel that we require for our energy levels. Drop those too low and your fatigue will be intensified. You can still eat carbohydrates from potatoes and other root vegetables and add in one or two portions of grains per day depending on your exercise levels.

Here are some suggestions for the main meals of the day plus snacks.

wholegrains

Breakfast choose one selection per day and rotate so that you are getting variety and different nutrients.

  • Most cereals have B12, B6, Folic Acid and Iron – check the labels to establish that. Some will be added as fortification but if it is a wheat cereal it will have natural nutrients.
  • Have cereal or porridge and a glass of orange juice to help the digestion of iron with Vitamin C. Have some soaked prunes on your porridge or chopped dry prunes on your cereal, as these are high in iron.
  • If you are not trying to lose weight then have a piece of wholemeal toast with butter and marmalade as well. Better to have small amount of good quality chunky marmalade than a watery processed diet version.
  • Sprinkle a dessertspoon of wheatgerm on the top of your cereal or your porridge as this has B6, iron and manganese together (B12, B6, Folic Acid, Iron, Manganese and Vitamin C)
  • Half a grapefruit with two pieces of wholemeal toast and marmalade. (Vitamin C –Manganese)
  •  For a cooked breakfast you could have poached egg on two pieces of wholemeal toast with an orange juice. (Manganese, Vitamin C, B12 and B6)

(A tip here is to avoid wheat bran, as this can actually prevent absorption of iron. As can unfortunately too much tea so do try and restrict your intake to no more than three cups a day of good quality leaf tea rather than the processed bags. Coffee has some health benefits too and a cup or two of fresh ground coffee with some hot milk is fine. If you have high blood pressure however you might have ground decaffeinated instead.

 pumpkin seeds

Snack

  • Have a mid-morning snack as part of your healthy eating plan. You could have a handful of the mixed seeds and nuts (B6, Manganese)
  • 2 mandarin oranges (Vitamin C again, to help the iron you have already ingested to be absorbed)
  • A banana (B6)
  • Slice of wholemeal toast with mashed banana (Manganese and B6)

 index

Lunch

Assuming this is your main meal of the day – choose from the following meats:

  • · Lamb
  • · Chicken
  • · Turkey
  • · Salmon
  • · Beef
  • · Lamb’s liver
    (try to have liver at least once a week) (folate, B6, B12 and iron)
  • · Potatoes
  • · Wholemeal rice or pasta (manganese – folate)

Lots of vegetables including every day a serving of a dark green leafy vegetable like spinach (Folate-Iron) Cauliflower (raw) (Vit K), Broccoli (calcium)

Use olive oil or good quality sunflower oil for cooking or as a dressing (Essential fatty acids and Vitamin E)

oranges

Snack

  •  Nuts and seeds. For men pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of Zinc and helpful to keep the prostate healthy.
  •  Slice of wholemeal toast with butter and a thin slice of mature cheddar.
  •  Home-made wholemeal scone with butter and sugar free jam.
  •  Fruit such as oranges.
  •  Yoghurt live with no sugar but chop up some fruit such as berries into it.

If you are not going to hit the dance floor every evening, having a heavy meal at night can cause digestive problems and provides energy that you are not going to use up.. This will result in storage of the excess around your middle. If it is your main meal of the day keep your grain and other carbohydrates to your lunch and eat protein with lots of freshly prepared salads and vegetables. A smaller amount of carbohydrate up to 2 hours before going to sleep is fine. As you will see from the lists one piece of toast, one piece of Pitta bread,

Dinner

baked beans two

Assuming this is a lighter meal.

  • · Scrambled Eggs on toast (B6, B12, Folate, Manganese)
  • · Omelette and Green leafy mixed salad (B6, B12, Folate)
  • · Wholemeal Pitta bread with chicken or tuna and salad filling (B6, B12, Iron)
  • · Eggs Florentine – baked egg on spinach with some hollandaise sauce
  • · Homemade wholemeal pasta in tomato sauce on toast.
  • · Small tin of sugar free baked beans on wholemeal toast.
  • · Seafood cocktail on with clams – cockles – prawns. Serve on half an avocado Slice of bread and butter.

Snack

bananas

  •  One of the snacks from above that you have not already had.
  •  Cup of Cocoa (iron)
  •  Cup of Ginger Tea and a wholemeal digestive biscuit (Manganese)
  •  A banana (B6)

As you can see from the above eating plan, there are many foods that will help keep your blood healthy. Get creative in your own kitchen, using fresh unprocessed ingredients and you can’t go wrong.

That is the end of the series on our life blood and I hope you have found interesting.

Previous posts in the blood series

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/05/29/smorgasbord-health-blood-the-stuff-we-take-for-granted/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/06/05/smorgasbord-health-blood-fatigue-headaches-and-iron/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/06/02/smorgasbord-health-the-blood-oxygen-distribution-and-waste-disposal-and-anaemia/

 

 

 

Smorgasbord Health -The Circulatory System -60,000 mile long network.


As we get older our bodies require more and more maintenance to keep essential functions and systems working efficiently. What worked for us at 20, 30 and even 50 is not necessarily enough once we get over 60 or older. Our circulatory system is not an optional extra but a critical and essential pathway throughout our body that carries our lifeblood. Without that lifeblood our organs die and within a few minutes the core of our being.. the brain dies.  In this series of updated posts from 18 months ago I will be covering both the network and the blood that it carries.

Our blood is fascinating and whilst we only see with the naked eye, under a microscope it is teeming with life.. most of which is essential to our own.  But before moving onto the blogs about the blood that flows through our body, a couple of articles on the system that carries it.

We have all suffered from bruising at some point in our lives which is when damage occurs to the blood vessels closest to the skin, but damage can also occur deep inside our bodies that can be extremely serious. Today a look a the structures themselves and next time how these arteries and veins can be damaged.

Depending on our age, the average adult has between 60,000 and 100,000 miles of blood vessels should they be laid end to end. Enough to circle the world 7 times. Our blood will travel around our bodies and achieve around the 12,000 miles each day. That is 500 miles an hour. There are an average of 8 pints of blood or 4.7 litres in an adult and this has to carry all the nutrients and oxygen we need to live around the body to keep our major organs alive.

A blockage in this 60,000 plus miles of blood vessels can be catastrophic as even a few minutes of lack of oxygen to a vital organ such as the heart or brain will cause a heart attack or stroke.

I have covered the results of blockages in the blood flow on the brain and the heart in previous blogs, but we rarely consider this amazing system that feeds those organs unless we cut ourselves or notice a bruise.

Maintaining the health of our blood vessels is fundamental to our health and the network needs a combination of oxygen, specific nutrients and exercise to keep them flexible and clear of debris.

Today I will talk about the structural aspects of the system and then over the next few blogs I will cover the common health issues of the vessels and the nutrients needed to keep them healthy.

How does blood circulate?

There are really two circulatory systems working in the body, the pulmonary and the systemic. Apart from the major veins and arteries there are also millions of smaller blood-vessels that form an interconnecting pathway throughout the body.

In the diagram below the blue is oxygen poor blood and the red is the oxygen rich blood.

pul-circ no labels

In the pulmonary system de-oxygenated blood is taken from the heart to the lungs where it is replenished with oxygen before making the return journey back to the heart. The oxygenated blood leaves the heart in the systemic circulatory network and taken to every single part of the body.

Although the circulation in our bodies is a closed system, the blood in the circuit begins its journey around the body in the left ventricle of the heart into the aorta. The blood at this point is oxygen-rich and full of nutrients and hormones as well as other substances necessary for us to function.

The coronary arteries split off and the aorta passes upward before doubling back on itself in an arch. From this arch the two main arteries to the head split off (left and right carotid arteries) and the main arteries for the arms (brachial). The aorta descends down the chest and into the abdomen where it branches off to the liver, intestines, and each kidney before dividing into the left and right iliac arteries, which supply blood to the pelvis and the legs. From there the blood passes into the arterioles and capillaries to feed the interior of organs and outlying areas of the body and remove any waste.

After passing through these tiny blood-vessels the blood is passed into the veins starting its return journey in small vessels called venules which are similar in size to the arterioles. It then makes its way back to the heart via the veins, which are close to the skin and visible at most times to the naked eye. These are the veins that contain valves to ensure the blood travels in only one direction.

All the veins in the body eventually merge into two very large blood-vessels called the superior vena cava and the inferior vena cava. The first collects the blood from the head, arms and neck and the second the blood from the lower half of the body. This blood then passes back into the heart and out to the lungs where it is re-oxygenated and returned to the heart to begin the process all over again.

What is the structure of the different blood-vessels?

Arteries are subjected to enormous pressure with each strong heartbeat and they therefore have to be thick walled and muscular. The outer layer of the artery (tunica adventitia) is a loose fibrous sheath filled with tiny blood-vessels that supply nutrients to the artery walls. Beneath this is an elastic sheath covering the muscular layer (tunica media) that gives the artery its strength. There is an internal elastic area covering the lining (tunica intima) of the blood-vessel.

 Artery 1

The thick elastic and muscular walls are vital if the system is to work efficiently and the blood is to be pushed around the entire body.

When you take your own pulse you will be measuring the force of each heartbeat as it is transmitted through the arteries and it is a very useful diagnostic tool for a doctor when determining any heart or circulatory problems you might be experiencing.

Veins are similar to arteries in the way that they circulate and when they both service major organs they often run in parallel. The major differences in the two blood-vessels are structural to enable them to perform their own individual roles in the circulatory system.

Veins have much thinner and more flexible walls that can expand to hold large volumes of blood. The pressure of blood returning to the heart is much lower than that in the arteries and its movement requires the use of valves in the veins to prevent the blood going backwards in the system.

The smallest capillaries only measure about eight- thousandths of a millimetre and are barely wider than a single blood cell. These minute vessels are thin and porous allowing the nutrients, oxygen rich blood and waste to pass between the circulatory system and the cells freely.

Capillaries also have another vital role in the body and this is in their ability to help regulate our body temperature. When the body is hot the capillaries in the skin expand to allow more blood to reach the surface of the skin and be cooled. When we experience extreme cold our circulatory system closest to the skin will begin to shut down forcing our blood to the centre of our bodies to ensure that our hearts and lungs are protected.

The capillaries nearest the skin are the most vulnerable to cuts, and when we bruise it is the damage to these small blood-vessels just under the skin which cause the discolouration. During our lifetime, any damage is usually repaired but as we age this ability lessens and capillaries collapse and leave the purple patches behind that are commonly seen on the arms and legs of the very elderly.

After passing through the capillaries and having completed the job of providing oxygen and nutrients from the tips of our toes to the scalp tissues the blood returns to the heart in the veins.

Are there any interruptions to the smooth flow of blood in our system?

Liver

At some stage, food that we have consumed must be processed and the nutrients extracted and waste removed. Part of this process involves the intestines and the liver. When blood leaves the intestines it does not flow directly back to the heart but diverts into the liver or hepatic portal system of veins. Once in the liver this enriched blood passes through the liver cells in special capillaries called sinusoids before passing back into the veins which transport it to the inferior vena cava and then to the heart.

What if we suffer damage to one system or another?

As blood loss and loss of circulation to a part of the body can be fatal, we do have an emergency diversion system that takes over in some areas. In the arms and the legs for example, damage to one artery stimulates another in the same branch to widen to allow more blood to pass through it, maintaining circulation.

During the fight or flight response, when adrenaline has been released, during intense activity or after eating, other mechanisms come into play. If you suddenly become more active blood vessels in the leg will increase in size and those in the intestine shut down so that you get the power where you need it. When you eat a meal the reverse process occurs – with blood being directed to the intestines. This is why it is advisable not to exercise too soon after eating a large meal as you will interrupt this major part of the digestive process.

Is blood in equal amounts in the two systems?

The blood is not evenly distributed in the two systems. If you were to take a snapshot of the circulatory system you would find approximately 12% to 15% in the arteries and veins in and around the lungs. About 60% will be in the veins and 15% in the arteries with 5% in the capillaries and 10% in the heart. It will also be travelling at different speeds in the various parts of the system leaving the heart quickly at around 30 cm per second and slowing down considerably in the capillary system. It speeds up again in the veins until it reaches the heart travelling around 20 cm per second.

Where is our circulation controlled from?

There are a number of the systems governed by certain parts of the brain such as hypothalamus. In the case of our circulation there is a small area in the lower part of the brain which is in charge called the vasomotor centre. The vasomotor centre receives messages from the pressure sensitive nerves in the aorta and carotid arteries and if necessary the centre sends out messages to the arterioles that will expand or constrict to control and maintain correct levels.

Next time the damage that can occur in our blood vessels that can cause problems in the blood flow.

©sallycronin Just Food For Health 2009

Candida Albicans – Alcohol and Sugars – Your liver’s health comes first.


Today a brief summary of the sugars in our diet and the similarity between sugar’s effect on the body, and that of ethanol, the active ingredient in alcohol beverages. Candida is a yeast and thrives on sugars – but the worst offenders are not natural sugars but those contained within our processed foods. To understand the role of these sugars you need to become aware of the impact of every mouthful you ingest on one of the most important organs of the body including the liver which is the guardian of our health.

I have mentioned the liver before in relation to cholesterol but it is very important that you develop an understanding of the vital role it plays in maintaining your health and learn to respect it.

We tend to eat and drink mindlessly – it is all about the taste and the immediate gratification or even high. When we are young we rarely think of long-term consequences of our actions. However, our over consumption of sugars in our daily diet and the current binge drinking culture in some of our countries, is going to manifest in a great many health problems. Not just those in middle to old age, but for a younger and younger generation.

I am talking about 10 and 11 year olds who regularly consume 16oz or 24oz fizzy drinks showing signs of liver disease, normally associated with alcoholics. Young people buying cheap spirits to drink before heading out for a night out resulting in high levels of hospital admissions for serious liver disease. Add in the rapid rise in obesity, heart disease, dementia and other related lifestyle related health issues, and we have the potential for a perfect storm.

Liver in Torso

Why is your liver so important?

The liver is the largest and heaviest gland in the body weighing around 1.5kg. It is a multitasking organ that is capable of around 500 functions. It is also the only organ in the body capable of regenerating itself provided it has been taken care of.

However, since we live in a modern age with a diet full of preservatives in our food, toxins in the food chain, excess sugar, alcohol and lousy fats, keeping our liver functioning well requires attention to both diet and lifestyle.

Without this firewall in your body you would die very quickly. Here are just a few of its many tasks that it carries out every single moment of the day.

  • It stores extra blood in case you need it in an emergency.
  • Stores Vitamins, minerals and sugars that are timed released.
  • It maintains the electrolyte balance in your blood so that minerals, such as calcium and potassium, maintain a healthy heart beat.
  • It processes fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E.
  • Helps maintain a healthy hormone balance. Too much sugar causes a sex hormone binding globulin to shut down causing an imbalance leading to skin problems, infertility, impotence and heart disease.
  • The liver is part of the bile management system that helps break down fats that your consume.
  • Waste removal from the body is crucial otherwise toxins accumulate in the system leading to disease and death.
  • If you liver is not functioning you will be more prone to infections and recovery time will be impaired.

If your liver develops scarring resulting from cirrhosis a common outcome of heavy drinking, all of the above functions with be severely compromised and you are likely to suffer from an earlier death than you had hoped. One of the devastating effects is on the brain, plaque in the blood vessels resulting in vascular dementia.

What happens to the liver when you consume either ethanol or sugar?

Studies have shown that the liver reacts in a very similar way to Ethanol (Alcohol consumption) and Fructose (sugars)

A major role of the liver is to keep blood sugar stable. Without the liver you could suffer from Diabetes. Even one fizzy drink a day can raise your risk of developing diabetes by 1%.

Sugar is composed of two molecules … glucose and fructose.

Glucose can be metabolized by all the cells of the body but the only organ that can process fructose is the liver. It turns any excess into glycogen which is stored until needed.

Unfortunately today with the high level of sugars we are consuming most of our livers are full of glycogen and unless you are extremely active and are utilising the stores, any fructose will be turned into fat – hence our epidemic obesity rates.

The fat that is released into the blood stream is in the form of triglycerides – but some remains in the organ contributing to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This results in inflammation within the organ and if not reversed by changes in diet and lifestyle can lead to fibrosis causing early signs of scarring. Further into the cycle and you will develop full blown cirrhosis with excess scarring and the real danger of liver failure. The liver cannot regenerate scarred tissue at that point and even changes in diet and lifestyle will not be effective.

At some point if not reversed your liver will also become insulin resistant – levels of insulin rise all over your body resulting in the pancreas failing to secrete enough insulin to drive blood glucose into the cells, causing high blood sugar levels and diabetes.

Should you eat fruit and drink alcohol if you have an overgrowth of Candida?

There is little evidence to suggest that natural fructose in the form of fruit, eaten as part of a balanced diet is going to cause you problems with your liver.

However, if you have a Candida overgrowth, I do suggest that you limit your intake of fruit to two pieces a day of the lowest fructose content. This way you will obtain all the benefits for your immune system without giving too much to the fungus. Increase your vegetable intake instead, particularly of dark green varieties such as broccoli and spinach.

Certain fruits have lower fructose content and here are some suggestions:-

lemons and limesLime and Lemons (great with hot water first thing in the morning) – cranberries (on your cereal) – Slice of Cantaloupe melon – raspberries, blackberries, kiwi, strawberries, grapefruit.

I firmly believe that even the higher fructose fruits must play a part in our recovery from a severe overgrowth but I tend to recommend that you introduce a couple of bananas a week by week three and also some citrus in the form of mandarins or a medium orange.

If you are not taking in any other sugars in processed foods in the form of cakes, sweets, chocolate and biscuits, please do not exclude fruit from your diet.

When you have reduced your levels of the overgrowth then maintaining that level is important – eating the occasional piece of dark chocolate and enjoying all fruits is healthy.

As to alcohol – if you have a severe overgrowth, I do recommend that you give up drinking for at least six weeks to give your liver a chance to recuperate and, if not under daily pressure, it will regenerate areas that are not scarred.

If and when you start drinking again – it is better to have one glass of good quality wine, spirit or beer (Guinness for example) per day rather than save it all up for the weekend and consume a bottle or several. That will simply overwhelm your liver and result in several days of feeling hung over and open to infections.

If you feel that your alcohol consumption is currently more than two glasses every day then you might think about the serious impact not just on your liver, but your long term health. If you feel that you cannot reduce your intake on your own then talk to your doctor as there are some counselling services that will work with you.

I have seen the devastation to body and mind that excess alcohol can deliver, including vascular dementia a subject for another day, and also the increasing pervasive nature of refined sugar in our processed diet. Please ask for help if you need it.

If you are the person who is shopping and cooking for others, then please take a long hard look at your shopping trolley and estimate the levels of processed sugars you are about to give them. Children in particular, will eat anything put in front of them and the younger you can re-educate their palate away from excess sugars the better.

The previous posts in the sugars and Candida series can be found here.
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/sugars-and-candida-2015-2/

If you have any questions please put into the comments section or if you prefer you can contact me privately via the email in ‘about me’ – I do not charge fees and am more than happy to help in any way that I can if you have a health issue that is related.

 

 

Gentle Detox Toolbox- Dandelion – Helpful for your waterworks, gallstones and anemia


As part of the Gentle Detox series, I wanted to share one of the natural remedies that can help eliminate toxins and bring the body back into balance.

I have used herbs either in cooking or in tincture form for over 30 years and there are several that I have introduced over the year that are a permanent fixture in my medicine cabinet. These include Echinacea, Milk Thistle and Peppermint.

At this time of year when over-indulgence has been hard to avoid it is easy to become bloated down to water retention as the body struggles to cope with the extra sugars. A tell tale sign is a puffy face especially under the eyes, puffy ankles and lower legs. Waistbands are tighter and it usually results in at least an extra 5lbs in weight.

The problem is actually not enough fluids to flush the system of the wonderful, sugary treats (toxins according to your body) that you have consumed in a short space of time. Alcohol also dehydrates the body and once the body senses that there might be a drought it goes into water conservation mode and stores fluid until such time as normal service resumes.  You will have ‘experts’ tell you that you don’t need to drink water as long as the food you eat contains it…sorry but whilst it helps to eat fruit and vegetables high in fluid content you still need to flush the system through with good old fashioned and unadulterated water.  If your tap water is high in flouride or other inserted chemicals then find a good quality filtered water or make your own.  Of course you cannot always blame fluid retention… but it is a contributory factor.

Drinking dandelion can be helpful in reducing this but also please take with caution if you suffer from certain conditions involving any of your major organs, as there is a delicate fluid balance required for them to function healthily.

Dandelion

Today a double whammy – a herbal remedy and a free food. Used as a medicine for thousands of years before the word ‘patent’ entered our vocabulary. Used for a number of health issues but definitely for water retention. Please make sure you do take note of the restrictions on use if you are on medication, especially prescribed diuretics for heart conditions.

This herb has been used medicinally, over the centuries, for a number of conditions that relate to the health of the blood. This includes anaemia, cholesterol problems, circulatory problems and diabetes. Additionally, it is a common component of detox complexes due to its diuretic properties and to help clear chest congestion, jaundice, rheumatic pain, gout, gallstones and insomnia.

It is an all-rounder and has enjoyed many different names in folklore. We know it most commonly as the Dandelion and are used to seeing its yellow flowers in the hedges and fields in the early summer. As children, most of us would have tried to tell the time by blowing on the puff-ball of seeds it produces in the autumn.

Its botanical name is Taraxacum officinalis and the name dandelion comes from the French dent de lion or lion’s teeth, a description of the distinctive serrated leaves of the herb. In Tudor times its diuretic properties were well known and it was given the more apt name of piss-in-the-bed! We have evidence that it was used medicinally since around 650 AD by the Chinese and it first appeared in European apothecaries in the late 15th century.

There were a number of superstitions surrounding the plant including its ability to foretell the number of years before a girl married and apparently if you saw the seeds being dispersed by the wind from the puff-ball rain was imminent.

Apart from being used as a medicine, blanched dandelion leaves can be used in salads or prepared in the same way as spinach and dried leaves have been used for many years to make tea and beer. A word of warning before you dash off and include as a signature dish for your next dinner party, it can cause wind problems – as it is not digested or processed until it reaches the intestines. More about Dandelion as a food later.

Today, dandelion is mainly used as a diuretic. Most chemical diuretics cause a loss of potassium but this is not the case when using dandelion. As potassium is vital for correct fluid balance in the body, taking dandelion is a safer way to reduce any excessive water retention. However, taking any diuretic to remove excess fluid should always be done with caution. Fluid is essential to life and if you force your body to excrete fluids on a continuous basis you will be losing critical minerals and salt too. Only use occasionally and if your water retention persists then do consult your GP as it could be the result of an underlying systemic problem.

The roots of the dandelion have traditionally been used in liver tonics. They are rich in Choline a B vitamin that prevents fat from being trapped in the liver. When the liver is blocked with fat, metabolism is affected and can lead to liver disease and elevated cholesterol levels.

Gallstones tend to be formed if the gall bladder does not completely empty of the bile it has produced. Dandelion improves both the production and the delivery of the bile and can be used as a preventative for people prone to this problem.  As someone with an inherited gallbladder problem, Dandelion, as part of a specialised diet has helped me maintain a reasonably stable digestive process.

The herb also contains inulin which is a naturally occurring oligosaccharide (simple sugars linked together). Inulin is indigestible by enzymes that normally metabolise starch so it is not broken down into simple sugars (monosaccharides) that can cause fluctuating blood sugar levels. It has been used by diabetics to help regulate their blood sugar levels but should always be used under medical supervision. If you are losing weight, however, it will help reduce your sugar cravings in the first few weeks until your body has adjusted to a lower sugar intake. Quite frankly the taste will do that for you anyway!

If you are overweight dandelion will help re-balance the fluids in your body and get rid of excess amounts initially. One of the other problems associated with obesity is inefficient fat metabolism and as bile is essential for this process increasing its production will also contribute to a healthy weight loss.

If you suffer from a bacteria and flora imbalance in the intestines, such as an overgrowth of Candida Albicans, eating dandelion leaves can help. The herb is a very efficient prebiotic which stimulates the growth of healthy, probiotic bacteria in the gut. Other probiotic formulas in yoghurt and milk are subject to various chemical processes on their way to the intestines before they can be effective. The dandelion is indigestible until it reaches the gut so is a much more potent source of friendly bacteria.

You can pick dandelions from the hedgerows and use as a food or buy an herbal tincture from a health food shop. There are a couple of restrictions. If you are currently taking prescribed medication such as diuretics, insulin or anti-coagulants you should not take without medical supervision as it may affect the potency of your drugs. Similarly, if you have already suffered from gallstones or a liver condition such as jaundice or hepatitis then you should take advice before using.

Dandelion is a nutritious food as well as tea.

As a food dandelion offers a great nutritional package – Vitamins: A, folate, B6, C, E, and K. Minerals: Magnesium, copper, phosphorus, calcium, iron, potassium and manganese. Dandelion leaves picked from the hedgerow can be used as salad leaves but always remove the woody stems and wash very well. Apart from additional protein in the form of bugs, dogs for some reason love peeing on them! Apart from salads, you can throw into a soup pot with a vegetables and then blend for a lovely creamy soup. Cook like spinach and eat with rich meat dishes. Use raw in sandwiches with egg or avocado.

Some hardy souls have ground the dried roots into a substitute coffee, but do not expect to see in Starbucks anytime soon! It does however; make a good tea although I tend to get from the health food shops as they usually have a high quality selection. As a little word of warning – I suggest that you use the tincture and tea earlier in the day and also the leaves with lunch as there is a good reason that in medieval times it was called piss-in-the-bed!

Remember if you have water retention drink water up to 8 glasses per day (add more in hot climates) but do not overdo as you can upset your electrolyte balance which is essential for the health of blood’s chemistry and processes such as muscle action.

 You can find the other posts in the Gentle Detox in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-gentle-detox-2019/