Smorgasbord Health Column – Female Reproductive System – Breast Cancer and Research Update by Sally Cronin


Unfortunately cancer is a common condition and there will be over 14 million new cases this coming year and over 8 million deaths world wide. In many developing countries that do not have screening programmes to detect the disease early, the diagnosis of cancer is a death sentence. Most of us live in countries where cancer research, early detection and personalised treatments are now available, and if you look at the survival rates of ten years and over, the news is encouraging.

In the UK according to overall cancer statistics from Cancer Research UK there were 359,960 new cases in 2015, and 163,444 deaths in 2016. There is now a 50% survival rate over 10 years but, 38% of cancers are preventable.

If that is the case then it would result in 136,785 fewer cases per year and 62,000 less deaths a year.

With regard to Breast Cancer, there were 55,122 new cases in the UK in 2015, 11,563 deaths in 2016, with an estimated 23% of cases being preventable. What does look more promising is that the survival rate for women for 10 years of more is 78%.

The US statistics can be found on this website Susan G. Komen In 2018, it’s estimated among U.S. women there will be:

  • 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer (This includes new cases of primary breast cancer, but not recurrences of original breast cancers.)
  • 63,960 new cases of in situ breast cancer – find out more about this in the statistics
  • 40,920 breast cancer deaths

Although the survival rate in the UK and US is improving, the aim of course, is to ensure as near 100% survival rate for all those diagnosed with breast cancer. To that end, research has now become even more focused on identifying every factor involved in its development, from risk factors to individual tumour cell variations. There are some exciting new studies which you will find out about later in the post

The diagnosis of Breast Cancer strikes fear into the heart of us all. Not that the disease is exclusive and men too can develop this disease. But there are risk factors that are not down to genetic causes, but are a result of our lifestyle. The fact that it is estimated that 38% of cancers are preventable, should inspire us to look closely at our diet, exercise and lifestyle choices.

Risk Factors

Most of us in developed countries are living longer due to better diet and medical care. Recent research does support the fact that we all have rogue cells that might at some stage develop into cancer, particularly if we live into our eighties and nineties. If we have a poor diet full of sugars and have worked in a hazardous environment our immune systems may not function efficiently allowing for diseases such as cancer to move from harmless to dangerous.

There are a number of risk factors that have been identified, but apart from a clear genetic link to mutated genes such as BRCA1, BRCA2 and p53, there is only firm but not definitive links to other triggers. These include prolonged exposure to hormones such as oestrogen because of an early start to puberty before the age of 12 years old or a late menopause after 55 years old.

Lifestyle and diet are likely to play a role as a nutritionally poor diet is likely to result in poor immune system function allowing all pathogens to flourish.

There have been studies which indicate that exposure to hormone replacement therapy and birth control might raise the risk factor as will being exposed to chemicals within the work place.

Lifestyle choices such as smoking, recreational drugs and drinking excessive alcohol can be increased risk factors as they will undermine the body’s own defense system as well as introducing carcinogens into the body. In the case of smoking, each cigarette has over 4,000 chemical components, many of which are toxic.

You might also be at risk if you are severely overweight and take little exercise.

More details can be found at the following links.
http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-risk-factors
http://www.who.int/cancer/detection/breastcancer/en/

Early Detection

If you notice any changes in your breasts that are not associated with your normal monthly cycle or pregnancy then contact your GP or health provider.

Here is an excellent article on self-examination that you should complete at least once every month: http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/self_exam/bse_steps

In certain countries there are various health checks that are available to screen for specific cancers between certain ages and it is important that every woman take advantage of these.

The Good News.

If breast cancer is detected early and treated there is between an 88% and 93% survival rate. This drops to between 74% for stage two and 49% for stage three.

http://www.healthline.com/health/breast-cancer/survival-facts-statistics

In the latest research it has been identified that there are at least 10 different variants of the disease (instead of the three already identified), and that tumours themselves may have variations in types of cancerous cells inside them and also when they spread to other parts of the body. This raises more challenges as it increases the need for very personalised treatment plans for patients.

Here is an extract from a very interesting article that I suggest you do read from Cancer Research UKIncreasing the resolution on breast cancer – The Metabric Study

Their study group, METABRIC (Molecular Taxonomy of Breast Cancer International Consortium), looked at the patterns of molecules inside tumours from nearly two thousand women, for whom information about the tumour characteristics had been meticulously recorded.

They compared this with the women’s survival, and other information, like their age at diagnosis.

While many other studies have highlighted differences between cancers, the METABRIC study looked at so many tumours that they could spot new patterns and ‘clusters’ in the data.

Their conclusion is that what we call ‘breast cancer’ is in fact at least ten different diseases, each with its own molecular fingerprint, and each with different weak spots.

This is simultaneously daunting and heartening – daunting because each of these diseases will likely need a different strategy to overcome it; and heartening because it opens up multiple new fronts in our efforts to beat breast cancer.

and from the same article –

Genetic insights

Modern genetic technology is increasing our understanding of cancer

All of the tests described above measure the levels of proteins inside tumours. Recently, research has focused on testing which genes are switched on or off inside the cancer cells.

This has led to tests, not yet widely used in the NHS, such as ‘PAM50’. This examines 50 separate genes inside a woman’s tumour, and uses the resulting ‘fingerprint’ to group cancers into four subtypes’:

Luminal A cancers, which are usually ER+ and/or PR+ – and make up about half of all cases. They tend to have low amounts of Her2. Women with these tumours tend to have the best outlook.

There is a great deal of focus on breast cancer research and hopefully in the near future, the ‘PAM 50’ test will become routine in the NHS. That will provide even more data for these studies and identify more treatment options to save more lives.

I hope that you will read more on Breast Cancer at the links I have shared. Being informed is the first step in prevention, as is understanding how your body works, how it feels and how it might be changing.

©Sally Cronin – Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

You can find all the 2018 health related posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-column-news-nutrients-health-conditions-anti-aging/

My nutritional background

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

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

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Smorgasbord Health Column – Carbon Monoxide – A Silent Killer by Sally Cronin


I thought it was worth repeating this post on Carbon Monoxide dangers in light of the recent reports from the luxury hotel in Egypt that it may have been the cause behind the deaths of two tourists. And resulted in the evactuation of 300 British tourists. The final cause of their deaths is likely to take some time to be revealed, but whilst you cannot control the enviroment when staying in public buildings, you can take precautions to protect yourself and your family from this silent killer.  Unexplained deaths in luxury hotel – Daily Mail

In 2009 I was living with my mother full time and whilst I would spend time with her during the day for the odd hour of two when she was awake, I would spend most of my time in the kitchen diner working on my laptop and within earshot if there was a problem.

We had settled into a routine and most days followed the same pattern. Suddenly I began to experience mild headaches on a regular basis. I put it down to stress and would go out for a walk along the seafront and the headache would subside. Then we hit a spell of very wet weather, and I was confined to the house unless I was out doing the shopping or doing my radio shows.

The headaches got worse and after about four weeks I was in constant pain despite taking painkillers. I went to the walk-in medical centre and they said it was probably a migraine and related to stress. They suggested that I take ibruprofen and try to relax!

I then went to a chiropractor, to find out if perhaps I had somehow pinched a nerve in my neck that was causing the problem. He did some work on my neck and shoulders but could not find any knots. There was no improvement after the session and I was becoming desperate.

I was also becoming very tired as sleeping was virtually impossible and eventually one night about 10.pm, I felt my head was about to explode. The pain was excrutiating, and finally I telephoned my sister to come around and she called an ambulance. When the paramedics arrived they took my blood pressure and it was through the roof. and combined with head pain, they rushed me to hospital as they thought I was about to have a stroke.

When I arrived at A&E the doctor examined me and immediately put me on very strong painkillers and because my saturation levels were low he also gave me oxygen. As the meds and oxygen took effect my blood pressure dropped and after a few hours it was down to a bearable level. He too thought it might be migraines or cluster headaches or an underlying condition and told me to go to a doctor to be referred for further investigation.

I went home at about 5am and slept through to lunchtime. I sat in the lounge with my mother and had an early night still with the niggling pain hovering in my head.

The next day I was sitting in the dining area of the kitchen when the pain began again and Iooked over at my mother’s gas cooker and suddenly the penny dropped.

As it was an emergency, the gas board sent a technician immediately and he found that there were low to moderate concentrations of carbon monoxide in the kitchen and dining-room. A place that I used for several hours a day, but my mother rarely entered anymore. I used to close the door to the hall to shut out the noise of her television so effectively sealing me in with the gas.

Additionally, the previous owners of the house had built a sunroom across the back of the kitchen which meant there were no windows to the outside and therefore little ventilation. With the onset of winter the windows of the sunroom were not opened either allowing a build up of carbon monoxide.

My mother’s gas oven was also an older model she had brought from her flat across the road, and although it had been serviced since her arrival at the house, it had not been checked for a number of years.It was the first thing to go. The gas board capped off the gas line and I bought an electric cooker.

It took several weeks before I felt normal, and after I investigated the often fatal effects of carbon monoxide poisoning, I was very thankful that I had identified the cause when I did and did not suffer long term health problems.

More about Carbon Monoxide.

  • The build up of carbon monoxide in the home is particularly dangerous for those who tend to be at home all day or housebound. This is particularly so for the elderly who might also not been able to afford proper maintenance for their aging appliances.
  • Carbon monoxide can accumulate to dangerous levels as a result of faulty or damaged heating appliances using gas, oil, kerosene or wood that have not been serviced regularly.
  • Poor ventilation in rooms where you have gas appliances for cooking or heating. Especially after home renovations that block internal windows. This is often the case with conservatories that are added to the back of houses.
  • Blocked flues and chimneys of heating appliances.
  • Garage or shed doors being shut when cars or petrol driven lawnmowers are operating without ventilation.
  • Sitting in idling cars in a garage even with the doors open.
  • Using cooking appliances with the doors open to the rest of the house as a form of heating. (As in the case of some elderly people without central heating in their homes)
  • Using cooking appliances such as BBQs inside the house or garage.
  • Because carbon monoxide is invisible, you cannot smell or taste it, over time it can build to dangerous levels.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

  • At the outset you may feel that you are coming down with a cold or the flu. This will usually include a headache that persists.
  • You might also experience chest pains, dizziness, stomach upset, vomiting and general fatigue.
  • Another key indicator is that other people that you live and work with are experiencing similar symptoms.
  • The effects are dependent on a number of factors. The age of the person, activity levels outside the home, daily rate of exposure and poor health.
  • More severe effects may result in confusion, seizures and unconsciousness

What causes carbon monoxide poisoning?

When you breathe in carbon monoxide it replaces the oxygen in your blood. This means that your cells throughout your body die and your organs fail.

Urgent steps to take.

  • If you have any appliances that burn fuel for heating or cooking then make sure they are switched off until you have had them checked by a qualified inspector.
  • Open all your windows and air the house.. Pockets of gas can find their way throughout the house if doors have been left open.
  • If your symptoms are severe get outside into the fresh air. Get checked out as quickly as possible either at your doctor or the emergency room.
  • Installing a carbon monoxide alarm could save your life.
  • Regular inspection and maintenance of appliances, vents, flues and chimneys are the best ways to protect you and your family from the hidden danger of carbon monoxide. For added protection install an audible carbon monoxide alarm.
  • Carbon Monoxide alarms are available from many hardware and DIY stores.

Here is an article with a video that gives instructions on where to place detectors and also points to remember such as the fact that detectors have a relatively short lifespan and need to be replaced regularly. http://www.carbonmonoxide.ie/htm/co_alarms.htm

If your fuel burning appliances have not been checked recently or you do not have a carbon monoxide detector then please do so now.. I would hate for you to go through the same experience as I did. Thanks Sally

©Sally Cronin 2016

You can find all the 2018 health related posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-column-news-nutrients-health-conditions-anti-aging/

My nutritional background

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

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

 

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


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

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

Essential Amino Acids

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

Non-Essential Amino Acids

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

The Role of Amino Acids in the body

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Differences between babies and adults.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Food sources for Amino Acids.

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

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

My nutritional background

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

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

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

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

 

Smorgasbord Health Column – Nutrients we need – Manganese and the link to Asthma


Last week I mentioned that there is a link between a number of chronic diseases including Asthma and Manganese. There have been studies that show that those suffering from asthma were also deficient in the mineral.  Although you will see that there is a genetic link to asthma, the respiratory system requires certain nutrients to be healthy. With the current trend to remove grain and other carbohydrates from the diet, there is a number of minerals that can become deficient, one of which is manganese.

First a look at Asthma.

Asthma can be a childhood condition that is hereditary or associated with allergies, that is grown out of by puberty. Or, later on in life as a result of work and lifestyle related ingestion of chemicals including smoking or nutritional deficiency. Here is more about the disease.

What is asthma?

The actual word asthma comes from the Greek azein meaning to breathe hard. It is an intermittent disease unlike chronic conditions such as cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis or emphysema.

The bronchial tubes in the lungs are made of muscle and a mucus membrane. During an asthma attack this mucus membrane becomes inflamed and swollen causing the muscles to contract and create spasms. Air movement is restricted and as it tries to escape from the bronchi it causes the wheezing which is the most common symptom of asthma.

Attacks vary in severity but they can easily spiral out of control, particularly in young children who are more inclined to panic. If the attack is not controlled either by medication or relaxation techniques there is a danger that the airways will close completely cutting off the supply of oxygen to the major organs and the rest of the body.

What causes asthma?

The word syndrome, when associated with a disease, implies that the cause is usually unknown and this is the case with Asthma. Until recently Asthma was divided into two types, allergic (Extrinsic) and non-allergic (Intrinsic).

There is a genetic link to this disease with over half of diagnosed cases being hereditary.

Researchers have now discovered a number of classifications within the two main recognised causes that help isolate possible triggers.

Over 90% of asthma sufferers are going to be suffering from allergic asthma and the triggers for this are very widespread. It could be from pets, cigarette smoke, pollen, dust mites, foods and other common pollutants such as chemicals in the workplace.

When children suffer from asthma it is considered to be the allergic kind and there is evidence to suggest that boys are more at risk than girls are.This may be because until the early 20s, the male airway is slightly narrower which increases the difficulty in breathing.

There are a number of possible food triggers that might be responsible but there is a definite link between smoking and pregnancy. If the mother smokes the foetus will not have mature lungs at birth. If the mother or other people around the baby continue to smoke the exposure will trigger an asthma attack.

What are the most common asthma triggers?

This list is not exhaustive but does represent the most common allergens that are likely to trigger an asthma attack.

  • · Additives and preservatives in food such as tartrazine and sulphites.
  • · Alcohol
  • · Air conditioning
  • · Animal saliva and urine
  • · Animal mites
  • · Chemicals
  • · Cold air
  • · Colds and upper respiratory infections
  • · Drug reactions (anaphylactic shock to aspirin, tetanus)
  • · Dust mites and their droppings
  • · Exercise
  • · Fungal infections such as Candida
  • · Fumes from paints
  • · Hair products such as sprays and colorants
  • · High humidity
  • · Nuts
  • · Pillows containing feathers
  • · Plastics, PVC and latex
  • · Sawdust
  • · Shellfish
  • · Smoke
  • · Solvents
  • · Stress
  • · Tobacco smoke
  • · Tree and grass pollens.

If a child seems to suffer from a persistent hacking, or congested cough it might indicate the onset of asthma and it is a very good idea to get them checked by a doctor immediately.

Signs in a young baby that they may be asthmatic.

  • A very young baby may suffer from a persistent cough and also have strange muscular contractions in between the rib cage when inhaling.
  • A baby might flare at the nostrils when feeding indicating that it is having breathing difficulties.
  • If the baby is breathing more than 40 times per minute when sleeping, then you should mention it to your doctor right away.

What about non-allergic asthma?

Non- Allergic asthma is not likely in children and tends to develop in adults in their 40’s. This may be an accumulative exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace, smoking, perfumes, a tendency towards upper respiratory tract infections or intolerance to cold air. There are some indications that people who suffer from severe indigestion, including reflux, may also be at risk of an asthma attack.

If there is a family risk of allergies, including asthma, there is a possibility that strenuous exercise could trigger an attack. A combination of increased breathing rate with a loss of heat and moisture in the lungs can cause coughing throughout the exercise. In cold and dry weather the symptoms may develop into a full-blown asthma attack.

When is an attack likely to take place?

An attack can take place at any time but it is very common at night and for some reason the most likely time is between midnight and 4 am. There are a number of possible causes such as mites and dry skin cells in the bedclothes and also sleeping position and fluctuations in bedroom temperature. Being night-time only serves to make the attack even more frightening than normal, particularly for children, or if it is the first attack the sufferer has experienced.

What are the common symptoms of an asthma attack?

It is very important to prevent the early symptoms from escalating into a full-blown asthma attack and it is just as vital for family and friends to understand and recognise the initial signs so that they can support and help the victim.

The most common signs are a dry persistent cough with breathlessness followed by a tight feeling in the chest. As I have already mentioned, wheezing is very likely, as are signs of a panic attack. The victim is likely to become very agitated with sweating and increased pulse rate. The natural instinct is to rid the airways of the inflamed mucus and coughing is the body’s way of achieving this.

As the attack progresses to an acute stage there will be evidence of lack of oxygen by way of a bluish tint around the lips, face, gums and nail beds. It is vital that medical assistance is called urgently.

Picture1How can you help someone who is suffering an asthma attack?

It is very important that you keep calm. The ability to breath is fundamental and when that is restricted it is extremely hard not to panic and you will need to help them keep focused until medical assistance reaches you. A person who has been asthmatic most of their lives will have an inhaler and will be practised in dealing with the situation while waiting for help, but there will be occasions when an attack happens unexpectedly or for the first time and in that case you will need to be active to ensure their best chances of recovery.

As with a heart attack the sitting position is the best for the person to adopt, probably upright on the edge of a bed or sofa with something to lean on in front of them.

Keep reassuring them and try to get them to breathe deeply and evenly with you and this is easier if you are in front of them and they are focused on your mouth and eyes.

Pursed lip breathing is used by both asthmatics and athletes to expel the build-up of carbon dioxide in the restricted airways. They need to inhale as normal through the nose and then exhale by “blowing” out the air quite vigorously. This stretches the bronchial tubes and helps get rid of the excess carbon dioxide.

Keep reassuring them that everything will be fine and that help is on the way.

How can an attack be prevented?

In this modern world it is virtually impossible to remove all the possible triggers from an individual’s environment. You can take steps in the home to remove potential culprits although if you love your cat or dog it is certainly not easy.

With pets you need to minimise the areas that their dander and mites can gather such as carpets and soft furnishings. Marble or wood floors are a great deal more hygienic than carpeting, especially in the bedroom. Don’t allow pets on the furniture or beds and always make sure that hands are washed after handling them.

If there are rugs in the house then they need to be vacuumed every day. The same goes for sofas and chairs. Bedding needs special attention and pillows and duvets should contain man-made fillings not feathers. Change linen as frequently as possible and make sure that it is washed at 55°C (130°F) to kill any dust mites and remove allergens. Use organic washing powders to reduce the risk of a reaction.

For children it is not only the family pet that might cause a reaction. Stuffed toys can also be well loved and handled. Stick teddy in the freezer for 24 hours every few days and this will kill off dust mites. Change a child’s bed linen every day as well as pyjamas.

What about food triggers for asthma?

As I have already mentioned there are certain additives and preservatives that could trigger an asthma attack. There are also certain foods that can cause a reaction and these are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy products, wheat, fish and shellfish.

My advice is to keep a food diary for a couple of weeks and monitor your symptoms in relation to food eaten within a twelve hour period. If you find a pattern emerging you need to stop that particular food for at least six weeks and see if your asthma improves.

Experts believe that relatively few asthmatics are actually affected by these food triggers but they are known allergens, that can cause anaphylactic shock in some people, so should be suspect.

There has been some research into the effect of casein, which is a milk protein and a known allergen on the increasing rates of asthma in children, particularly those in deprived areas. The premise is that children in these areas are given a great deal of milk and cheese through welfare agencies and as a result asthma rates have increased significantly in relation to children in other environments.

It has been proved in other studies that eating dairy products increases the levels of mucus and as it is the inflammation of the mucus in the bronchial tubes that results in asthma attacks, it makes sense to consider dairy products as a major suspect food. However, it is important to find an alternative to dairy that is not loaded with highly processed soya, rice or nuts and sugar. Check the labels and if after six weeks there is no improvement to the asthma then it is unlikely to be dairy products that are the culprits. You may find that changing to goat’s milk and cheese is effective.

In addition to foods that we eat naturally in our diet, there are also hidden dangers in processed foods and if you are a regular visitor you will know that I prefer the ‘Cook From Scratch’ method of all food preparation.

I rarely advocate eliminating any food permanently but in the case of life-threatening allergic food reactions, there are some compelling reasons for not eating foods that you strongly suspect of triggering an asthma attack.

If you eliminate the suspect foods that I mentioned completely, for at least six weeks and then re-introduce them, in a much diluted form, you will be able to determine if there is any reaction.

There are also a number of allergy testing services available – but make sure that they are reputable and that any elimination of foods is carefully monitored and the effects measured from week to week.

Is there anything else that will decrease the risk of asthma attacks?

It is very important to maintain a healthy immune system. The last thing an asthmatic needs is to suffer from frequent infections, particularly of the upper respiratory tract. Colds and bronchitis are potentially very damaging to the already weakened respiratory system so a diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables is essential.

Exercise is also very important, especially walking, which is unlikely to trigger an exercise related attack unless the air is very cold. If you are exercising outside in the winter it is important to wear a scarf around your lower face to ensure that air is warmed before entering the nasal passages and airways.

Lifting weights under supervision will help develop the muscles in the thorax and help control breathing more effectively. Swimming is another great exercise to strengthen lungs and also the diaphragm

Relaxation is another key factor, especially at the onset of an attack, and many sufferers find that yoga techniques help them relieve the stress and prevent the attack from escalating.

Link to Manganese.

As I mentioned in the post on Manganese earlier in the week there is a link to a deficiency of this micro mineral and asthma. There are a couple of studies that seem to support that the lack of fruit and vegetables that contain Vitamin C and manganese in the diet; may result in an increased risk of asthma.

Here is the list of foods that contain manganese as well as the antioxidants required to build a healthy immune system… Your first line defence against most chronic illnesses such as respiratory disease.

Include Beans, spinach, brown rice, tomatoes, walnuts, asparagus, pineapples, wholegrains, porridge oats, dark green leafy vegetables, raspberries and strawberries regularly during the week.

If you cook with herbs and spices basil, cloves, cinnamon, thyme, black pepper and oregano; they too will add manganese to your diet.

Next week.. how to prepare beans without the wind factor… and still get your manganese and several other important nutrients..

©Just food for health 1998- 2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

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

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

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

I would love to connect to you on social media.

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

Smorgasbord Health Column – The Kidneys and Urinary Tract – Urinary Tract infections by Sally Cronin


Last week my post was on the kidneys and how they function. I also looked at one of the most painful conditions… Kidney stones.

Today I want to continue with the urinary tract as problems with kidney function have a direct impact on the health of this essential waste pathway out of the body.

The Urinary Tract

Kidneys - locationThe urinary tract consists of a number of different organs that produce, store and excrete urine from the body. These include the kidneys, ureters, bladder and the urethra.

I covered the main function of the kidneys in the previous article. The waste products and other contents of the urine flow through ureters, one in each kidney, and into the bladder, where it is stored until there is an urge to get rid of it.

When you urinate, muscles in the bladder wall help push the urine out of the bladder, through the urethra and out of the body. In between urinating the sphincter, another muscle, keeps the urethra closed to prevent the urine from flowing constantly.

Normally your urine is sterile without any bacterial contamination. However, the mix of minerals, sugars and warmth make it a perfect environment to nourish and grow bacteria which is where the urinary tract infections come in.

Our defence systems are very refined and normally bacteria are prevented from getting into the urine in a number of ways. When the sphincter is in the closed position, bacteria are unable to gain entry to the bladder. The urethra in both men and women is quite long and difficult for bacteria to negotiate, but a woman’s is shorter which is why urinary tract infections are more common in women.

Also, every time you urinate you are flushing out the urethra as well as emptying the bladder completely. There are valves that prevent any urine from back washing into the kidneys so even if the bladder and urethra are infected, the bacteria should not be able to gain access to the kidneys.

With such good defences why do we get urinary tract infections?

The most common way to get a urinary tract infection is by bacterial contamination from our stools. For example, babies who wear nappies are exposed to bacteria that can enter the body and contaminate the urethra. Young babies and children have very immature immune systems and it does not take long for the bacteria to infect the soft tissue. As we potty-train babies, it is the girls that are more likely to become infected unless they are trained at a very early age to wipe front to back, so preventing any bacteria from reaching the vagina.

As we get older and become more sexually active, bacteria can be pushed into the vagina and in unprotected sex this can affect both males and females. Urinating after sex does help but careful hygiene is always critical, although not necessarily adhered to in young adults.

An important thing to remember about the bladder is that it is very elastic. It is not a good idea to go all day without emptying it as it will stretch and sag around the entrance to the urethra. This causes urine to collect and is a breeding ground for bacteria and also an ideal environment for stones to collect. If the problem is not rectified it may result in having to use catheters to empty the bladder, which is both inconvenient and can lead to further infections.

Are there different infections of the urinary tract?

Each separate part of the urinary tract can become infected and if left untreated can eventually affect the kidneys.

Cystitis is the infection that most women are more familiar with. It is an infection of the bladder and the most common form of infection is by bacterial contamination. There are cases where use of perfumed personal deodorants, soaps and creams have caused problems but it is more likely to be an infection that has moved up the urethra, through the sphincter and into the bladder. Because this is such a common condition and one to be avoided as it is both painful and can lead to complications in the kidneys; I will cover in more detail in the post next Tuesday.

One of the problems that can lead to bacteria gaining a hold in the bladder, is the habit of holding onto urine rather than responding to the natural stimulus. Urinating is designed to empty waste products out of the body and despite being sterile; it only takes a very small amount of bacteria to gain access to this perfect environment to cause an infection.

One of the causes of this is the habit of not sitting down but crouching over public toilets because of the possibility of infection. Ironically, this very act causes the bladder to retain urine and increases the risk of infection.

Urethritis is an infection of the urethra and can be the result of poor hygiene allowing bacteria to infiltrate the urethra or can be the result of a sexually transmitted infection.

Ureteritis is an infection of one of the ureters and can be caused by bacteria that enter the kidneys in the blood stream or if the valves preventing back wash from the bladder are not working correctly.

Pyelonephritis is an actual kidney infection and can be caused, again, by infection in the bloodstream, or if an infection in the urine, from the bladder, has remained untreated.

What are the symptoms of a urinary tract infection?

Those of us who have suffered from cystitis will have no difficulty in recognising the initial symptoms. Characteristically there is a burning sensation during urination and this can be accompanied by a fever, low abdominal pain and discolouration of the urine.

Urethritis is usually indicated with burning right at the beginning of urination since the infection is closer to the exit.

If your kidneys have become infected then you are likely to suffer from pain just below your rib cage at the back. These would be accompanied by the above symptoms and additionally there may be blood in the urine.

It is very important that you recognise symptoms at an early stage and do something about them before complications set in. You do not want your kidneys to become infected as this can lead to scarring and damage to the filtering system. This will affect your general health, as waste products will build up and your kidneys can fail. This will lead to the need for dialysis to clean the blood artificially and will eventually require a kidney transplant.

N.B. Urinary tract infections are very common in elderly men and women and the symptoms can result in memory loss, confusion and stress. It is easily misdiagnosed as onset of dementia. If you have an elderly relative who suddenly appears to be showing these symptoms, ask for a urine test to check for infection before rushing to a diagnosis of a more serious kind. A course of antibiotics and plenty of fluids can result in a rapid return to normal.

As I mentioned in the article on the kidneys, they play an important role in maintaining correct blood pressure. If kidneys are sufficiently damaged this balance will be affected and could lead to dramatic drops in blood pressure – which could lead to fainting – or rises in pressure leading to strokes and heart attacks.

What is the normal conventional treatment for urinary tract infections?

If you are suffering from symptoms that could be any of the urinary tract infections you need to act as quickly as possible. Go to a doctor and take a sample with you so the bacteria can be identified. As analysis can take two or three days to accomplish, the doctor will usually prescribe a broad spectrum antibiotic immediately and change to a more specific type later if needed.

If there is a concern that the infection has taken a stronger hold and may have infected the other parts of the urinary tract such as the kidneys, other tests will be carried out and treatment prescribed.

In some cases an ultrasound scan will be done to determine if there are structural problems with the urethra or valves that could allow bacteria to gain entry to the bladder and the kidneys. If it is proved that there is a reflux action from the bladder to the kidneys surgery may be carried out to correct the fault.

Can diet help prevent occurrences of urinary tract infections?

As far as diet is concerned there are a couple of foods that have been shown to help prevent urinary tract infections and cranberries in particular are recognised as being effective.

cranberries_background_200742Native American Indians have used herbal remedies for centuries and they used cranberries to treat urinary tract infections amongst other bacterial conditions. Modern research has revealed that cranberries, and their cousins, blueberries, have a component that protects soft tissue from bacterial infections.

Cranberries contain the highest quantity of proanthocyanidins (PACs) which inhibit the adhesion of bacteria to soft tissue. The most likely culprit of urinary tract infections is Escherichia Coli or E. Coli bacteria and the PACs prevent it from sticking to the surface of the urinary tract and reproducing leading to infection.

Research has shown that if you drink a glass of cranberry juice it will begin working effectively in two hours and the effects will last for 10 hours. This means that if you drink two glasses per day, one in the morning and one at about 8.00 at night you will achieve 24-hour protection.

Staying Hydrated.

It is important that you maintain the correct fluid levels and therefore drinking plenty of pure water is essential. This will pass through the kidneys and flush out any bacteria through the bladder and the urethra and out of the body.

Immune System function

green teaIt is important to boost your immune system with a diet that includes foods that have been shown to be anti-bacterial. – Such as onions, garlic and green tea. If you have a healthy, well-functioning immune system you will be less prone to be infected in the first place and your system will be more efficient is killing infections and getting rid of them through the waste disposal systems.

You will find the “Healthy Eating Plan for the Kidneys and Urinary Tract” helpful as it is designed to help minimise the risk of urinary tract infections and to maximise the health of your kidneys. I will post that at the end of this series on the kidneys.

Coming up in the next posts on the Kidneys – two forms of Cystitis and then a healthy eating approach to avoiding kidney stones and these very painful conditions.

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998-2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

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

All available in Ebook 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

Thanks for dropping in and please feel free to share.

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

Smorgasbord Health Column – Ancient Therapies – #Tai Chi – Non-Combative Chinese Martial Art by Sally Cronin


I went to Tai Chi for a few classes when I was looking after my mother, but it became difficult to leave her on a regular schedule, but I did practice the moves at home to stay flexible and to help my breathing.

What is Tai Chi?

This is a non-combative martial art that combines breathing techniques with a series of slow movements often replicating the actions of birds and animals. It promotes the flow of vital energy (chi) throughout the body promoting health and calm.

It is also used to aid meditation and there is one technique that I found really demonstrates the gentle power of the art and is a great place to start to focus your mind and body.

Health Benefits of Tai Chi

There is some research into the various benefits of the technique, and certainly for those of us over 65 it has been found to reduce stress, improve posture as well as increasing muscle strength in the muscles in the legs. This may have an impact on balance, flexibility and mobility. This might also help prevent the elderly from falls and improve arthritic conditions. It is a gentle but weight bearing exercise to might also improve bone density.

Although most of the exercises are in the standing position there is also no reason why you cannot complete the arm movements and strengthen your core and shoulder muscles whilst sitting.

Suitable for all ages.If you were to drive through a Chinese city you would find the parks and empty spaces filled with groups of men, women and children attending a Tai Chi class. Perfect for the family to enjoy together. Great for children and in China the day often start with a 30 minute class.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jhZK0OKWkQ

Here are just two of the many exercises that are part of this technique and I hope you will explore this amazing form of exercise for yourselves.

Kong Jing  to relax and focus your mind.

  1. If you can sit on a mat on the floor with your legs crossed that is the most effective position. But if like me you have knee problems, sit on a straight- backed chair and cross you legs at the ankles.
  2. Rub your palms together rapidly to the count of 10 seconds ( there are a number of ways to time that… one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand or one Mississippi two Mississippi etc)
  3. Place one palm slightly cupped above the other 15cm apart.
  4. Keeping your eyes closed, imagine that you have a spongy ball between your palms and gently press them together until you feel some resistance (it is weird at first as you know there is no actual ball between your palms) Do not let your hands touch.
  5. The feeling is best described as magnetic. If you have ever held a magnet in each hand and moved them together you will begin to feel a slight repelling sensation the closer you get. You might also experience a feeling of warmth or tingling in your fingers.
  6. Hold that feeling of resistance for five minutes and in subsequent sessions increase until you are holding that position for 15 minutes.

You should find that after a few sessions that you are less stressed and also that you breathing has slowed and your heartbeat dropped slightly as the body relaxes.

I would like to share one more exercise with you which you can use as a warm up before a Tai Chi class or on its own to unwind at the end of the day and boost your energy. If you do have a dry, level spot in the garden on grass, where you can stand barefoot, then that is fantastic.

N.B. It is advisable not to do Tai Chi if you are suffering from any joint injuries especially shoulder and knee.. always check with your doctor or physiotherapist first. However, once you are healed this gentle exercise might prevent further injuries.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your knees slightly bent.
  2. Relax your shoulders and upper body and hold your head balanced as if someone had tied a ribbon to the hair on the crown of your head and was pulling it upwards.
  3. Your hands should be down by your sides, palms facing backwards and slightly apart from your body.
  4. Breathe naturally and allow you mind to empty.
  5. Shift all your weight onto your right foot and gently lift your arms up in front of you to shoulder height.
  6. Keep your palms facing downwards and your fingers pointing to the floor.
  7. Transfer all your weight to the left foot and in one easy flowing motion, lower your arms down to your sides.
  8. Bend your wrists to that your hands are parallel to the floor facing forwards.
  9. Transfer your weight to your right foot, raising your arms again to shoulder height and then transfer all your weight to the left and lower the arms again.
  10. Repeat this flowing motion in a rhythmic sequence until if becomes effortless and without you thinking about the process.
  11. Build up the repetitions until you are practicing this every day for 15 minutes.

You should find that after a week or two your muscles, particularly in the shoulders and legs are more toned and that breathing and your circulation are improved.

Here is a video with instructions in English from a Hong Kong teacher to show you the beginning moves.

Here is a directory for classes in the UK and wherever you live you should be able to find a similar directory: http://www.taoist.org/uk/locations/

And to show you that you are never too young to feel the benefits of the discipline…..so cute. Leeds Taekwondo

© Just Food for Health  Sally Cronin 1998 – 2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

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

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

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

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

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

Smorgasbord Health Column – Nutrients we need Vitamin K1 and K2 – #Bone Density, #Dementia, #Prostate Cancer, #Kidney Disease.


There are two forms of the vitamin that the body can utilise. One is K1 (phylloquinone), which is from plant sources and the other is K2 (menaquinone) which is produced by bacteria in our own intestines.

This is where many of us get into trouble because we are not eating sufficient raw and unprocessed foods for health, and additionally many of us suffer from bacterial imbalances in the gut so do not produce sufficient from that source either.

The vitamin is fat-soluble and is stored in the liver. Studies indicate that approximately 50% of the stores come from our diet and the balance from bacteria in the intestines. We need healthy bile production for efficient absorption of Vitamin K and our lymphatic system circulates it throughout the body.

Prescribed usage of Vitamin K

Apart from helping reduce excessive bleeding during menstruation, it is also used therapeutically for the prevention of internal bleeding and haemorrhages, including emergency treatment for overdoses of blood thinners such as Warfarin.

Blood clotting.

Blood clotting is a critical function in the body that solidifies blood to prevent us from bleeding to death from external or internal injuries. Vitamin K is essential for the production of a protein called prothrombin and other factors involved in the blood-clotting function and is therefore necessary to prevent haemorrhages. Interestingly Vitamin K also activates other enzymes that decrease the clotting ability so it assumes the role of regulator within the blood stream. An example of this might be if a clot forms within a blood vessel that could block the flow and needs to be dispersed.

The vitamin has also been the subject of a great deal of research in recent years as scientists discovered that it played a significant role in liver function, energy production in the nervous system and in preventing bone loss as we age by assisting the absorption of calcium.

Bone density

Vitamin K is needed to activate osteocalcin, the protein that anchors calcium into the bone, building and repairing the structure. A deficiency in the vitamin can therefore lead to brittle bones and osteoporosis.

As the vitamin works within the body it changes from function to function according to the various interactions with enzymes and at one stage it acts as an antioxidant preventing oxidative damage to cells. There may also be a role for the vitamin in cancer prevention as it is believed it may stimulate rogue cells to self destruct.

Research into Vitamin K2 is ongoing and is very exciting.

Dementia – including Alzheimers and neurological diseases including Parkinsons with the vitamin being identified as deficient in patients suffering from irregularities in brain chemistry.

Kidney disease – Most patients with stage 5 chronic kidney disease (CKD) suffer from extensive vascular calcifications.4 Matrix Gla protein (MGP) is a powerful inhibitor of vascular calcification, and requires vitamin K2 to be fully activated

Cancer -In recent years, various reports have shown that vitamin K2 has anti-oncogenic effects in various cancer cell lines, including leukemia, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and hepatocellular cancer. Although the exact mechanisms by which vitamin K2 exert its antitumor effect are still unclear, processes, such as cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, appear to contribute to the therapeutic effects of vitamin K2.

To read the full report on the research: http://vitamink2.org/?benefit=research-continues

Prostate Cancer

A study recently published by the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) has revealed that increased intake of vitamin K2 may reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 35 percent. The authors point out that the benefits of K2 were most pronounced for advanced prostate cancer, and, importantly, that vitamin K1 did not offer any prostate benefits.

To read the whole report: https://chriskresser.com/vitamin-k2-the-missing-nutrient/

Why are you likely to be deficient?

  • As I mentioned above if you do not include sufficient Vitamin K rich foods in your diet then you will be missing out on 50% of your requirements immediately.
  • If you have prolonged use of antibiotics you will have compromised the bacterial balance in your intestines and reduced the production of the vitamin from this source too.
  • Anyone suffering from gall bladder or liver disease may well suffer a deficiency as do people with malabsorption problems such as celiac disease.
  • Newborn babies are often given vitamin K particularly if they are going to be breast fed and the mother is deficient.
  • Anyone taking anti-coagulant drugs such as Warfarin or Dicoumarol will find that these block the effect of the vitamin.
  • Some people might be susceptible to deficiency if they are taking high amounts of Vitamin A and E as these can block the absorption of Vitamin K.
  • A slightly acidic environment is necessary for the efficient production of this vitamin so people who use antacids on a very regular basis neutralise their stomach acid resulting in neutralised chyme (stomach contents) passing into the duodenum.

What are the symptoms of a Vitamin K Deficiency?

  • Certainly if you suffer from excessive bleeding each month during a period then you should be checked to see if you are deficient in vitamin K.
  • Men and women who find that their blood fails to clot after an injury are also likely candidates as well as people who suffer from frequent and heavy nosebleeds.
  • Other symptoms include eye haemorrhages, anaemia, bleeding gums, easy bruising, frequent fractures and other bone problems.
  • There are a number of birth defects linked to a deficiency of Vitamin K passing from the mother to the foetus through the placenta. These include flat nasal bridges, mental retardation, bone deformities, growth deficiency and facial abnormalities.

Best food sources of Vitamin K

It is very easy to obtain sufficient Vitamin K through diet and you will find good sources in dark green leafy vegetables such as asparagus, avocado, broccoli, brussel sprouts, green beans, kale, spring onions, spinach, fennel and leeks.

Although the vitamin is fairly resilient it is better to eat plant sources either raw or lightly steamed to obtain the maximum benefits. Freezing reduces the amount of the vitamin so you need to eat a little extra of frozen vegetables than fresh.

Prunes are a good source as well as plant oils such as olive oil.

Fermented foods are an excellent and great if you can get your hands on Natto – a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans. You can also make at home: https://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/recipe/soy/how-to-make-homemade-natto/

In the western world, we can find good sources of Vitamin K in grass fed matured cheddar and other cheeses, also from yogurt and other dairy products. Also good sources from eggs and a raw egg yolk has the most concentration.

Liver from grass fed animals including beef, pigs and lamb are a good source.

N.B. Corn fed dairy do not produce milk, cheese and other dairy products as rich in Vitamin K and you should try to find the traditionally made butters from summer grass animals. It is available and I buy one from Tesco. The same applies to Free Range Eggs. Hens that are corn fed instead of scratching around in the grass of a field do not produce eggs with as much Vitamin K.

© Just Food for Health  Sally Cronin 1998 – 2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Smorgasbord Health Column – The Digestive System – The Pancreas, Gallbladder and Intestines.


We are reaching the end of our journey through the labyrinth that is our digestive system. Today the intestines, but also a couple of glands that are essential to the process itself. I hope you have enjoyed the trip and if you were new to the scenery, found it useful.

I shall continue next week with the series of posts on Candida Albicans and the healthy balance of bacteria in the intestines.

Image

The small intestine

The small intestine is made up of three parts, the duodenum at the entrance, the jejunum and the ileum.

The duodenum is joined to the stomach and receives the highly acidic mix that has now been produced by the gastric juices. There is a danger that the duodenum would be eaten away by this acid so it secretes a thick mucus to protect itself. Within the layers of the duodenum are also glands that produce an alkaline juice to neutralise the acid and provide the enzymes to continue the digestive process. Because of the corrosive effect of the hydrochloric acid in the food at this point, the cells in the mucus membrane replicate faster than anywhere else in the body. At this point bile and pancreatic juices join the mix and the food moves about 10 inches down into the jejunum where nutrients are absorbed into the blood stream before the remaining liquid is passed into the ileum and then onto the colon for excretion.

The pancreas

The pancreas is one of the largest glands in the body and its main role is the secretion of hormones including insulin (when there are raised sugar levels in the blood), glucagon (when there is lower sugar levels in the blood) which maintains a normal balance. Also pancreatic enzymes, which are vital for effective digestion.

It lies across the top of the abdomen, below the liver and tucked into the duodenum section of the small intestine.

The pancreas is made up of cells (acinar cells) that secrete into small ducts that connect together until they feed pancreatic juices into a main duct running through the centre of the gland which feeds directly into the duodenum. The pancreatic juice contains not only the enzymes needed to breakdown carbohydrates, proteins and fats but also sodium bicarbonate to help neutralise the acid.

Within the acinar cells are Alpha and Beta cells that produce insulin and glucagon respectively. These are taken from the pancreas via the Mesenteric vein into the blood stream where they will balance blood sugar levels.

Image

The gallbladder

The gallbladder is a small pear shaped muscular structure on the underside of the liver on the right of the abdomen. It is attached to the common bile duct, which connects the liver to the duodenum, by the sphincter of Oddi. Excess bile leaves the bile duct at the cystic duct and is then stored and concentrated in the gallbladder until needed. Bile is used in the digestion of fats as they pass through the duodenum and is then either excreted or absorbed back into the bloodstream.

Gallstones and other gallbladder problems can be painful, but they also impact the digestion of fats. If you have the following symptoms regularly then you should consult your doctor.

  • An excruciating pain across the chest below the sternum that lasts for 15 minutes or so.
  • Within an hour of eating a fatty meal including meats, cheese, rich sauces or having lashings of butter on bread or vegetables, you have an urgent need to visit the bathroom and you have cramps.
  • Your bowel movement is light tan in colour.
  • Some people may experience nausea

Apart from gallstones, a gallbladder can calcify with hundreds of very small stones inside. This prevents the drip feed of bile to digest the fat you have eaten. Instead there will be a rush of bile from the liver, resulting in the sudden need to get rid of anything in your intestines.

The colon

By the time the digested food (chyme) has reached the colon all the nutrients should have been absorbed leaving a mixture of insoluble fibre and assorted waste products from the body’s operating systems mixed with water.

The Colon is the last part of the 30 foot alimentary canal and is used to remove excess water and solidify waste products before they are excreted from the body. It is a muscular tube, which moves the waste in a series of movements similar in nature to a washing machine and piping bag. The contents are churned and then moved on mass by contractions whilst excess water is re absorbed into the body. As the faecal matter loses water it becomes more solid so the lining of the colon secretes mucous to ease its passage through to the rectum.

There is still a digestive role for the colon to play, as it is at this point that billions of bacteria in the colon synthesise the essential vitamins K as well as gases such as hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane. Some of which make themselves more evident when we have consumed high fibre foods like beans.

Digestive process – timings.

From start to finish a normal and healthy digestive system will process the food you eat in approximately 12 to 24 hours. The longest period of digestion is in the colon where the process may take several days. Obviously what we eat will affect the timing of the process as harmful bacteria in food can cause the body to rush the elimination resulting in diarrhoea or the lack of fibre may result in constipation.

Ideally you should be eliminating food every 12 hours but certainly every 24 hours. As you will have seen there are many organs and processes involved and if only one of these is out of sync with the rest of the digestive system it can have a knock on affect that could potentially damage your overall health.

Eating a balanced diet is the best way to maintain a healthy digestive tract and so is some simple maintenance from time to time including dental care and detox programmes.

©Sally Georgina Cronin – Just Food For Health 1998 – 2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

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

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

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

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

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is sally.cronin@moyhill.com. I am only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Health Column – The Digestive system – Part Four – Liver diseases.


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 crazes such as Neknomination – which has already resulted in the death of several 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 whole grains 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.

You can keep up to date with news on liver health in the UK: https://www.britishlivertrust.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/latest-news/

And in the US: https://www.sciencedaily.com/news/health_medicine/liver_disease/

The next stop on our journey through the digestive system is the intestines… I bet you can’t wait!!

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

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

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

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

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

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is sally.cronin@moyhill.com. I am only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

Where is the liver?

Liver in Torso

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

What does the liver do?

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

Liver

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

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

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

Kuppfer cells

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

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

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

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

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

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

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

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

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

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