Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Vitamin C has been one of the most popular vitamins, ever since naval physician James Lind prescribed citrus fruits and fresh vegetables to prevent and cure scurvy in the 18th century.

Nowadays we take it for a whole host of reasons, but mainly to play a part in the body’s defence system during the winter months. I remember taking tiny orange flavoured vitamin C tablets when I was at primary school.

As well as a defence against colds and flu, vitamin C also has a mid histamine effect and increases absorption of iron. So if you’re taking iron tablets for anaemia, are you also taking enough vitamin C?

Healthy connective tissue also needs a strong supply of vitamin C plus it increases the formation of intercellular collagen so very beneficial for the skin.

Unlike most other mammals, humans cannot make their own vitamin C, hence why need to ensure a plentiful supply in our diet. The Recommended Daily Allowance is 60mg but pregnant women, heavy drinkers and smokers need more. In fact, just one cigarette destroys 25mg of vitamin C. Stress, medication and environmental factors also deplete the body’s levels.

My favourite is Forever Living’s Absorbent-C which is a unique combination of vitamin C bound in an oat bran matix. Oat bran is a soluable fibre found in unrefined oats and absorbs water in the stomach and small intestine and slows down digestion. Many vitamins that are labelled ‘timed-release’ are generally mixed with (harmless) chemicals called polymers that slow down the stomach’s ability to dissolve the pill. However, Forever’s vitamin C uses the oat bran matrix to create the ‘timed-release’ effect.

Click here to order.
£16.93 for 100 tablets

Forever Living's Absorbent-C


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Bees have for thousands of years been hailed as something to worship and value. It’s said that Napoleon regarded the bee kingdom as the ideal structure of a nation and thus had a bee on his badge whilst a roman myth had the God Of Love applying honey to his arrow.

Whilst people have been consuming royal jelly and honey for many years, it’s only recently that other bee products, bee pollen and propolis, have been used as excellent products for a healthy lifestyle.

Bee on flower

Bee propolis is not the first thing we think of when we think bees. It’s actually a resin secreted by trees which is harvested by the bees and metabolised by them to line their hives and protect them from germs. It’s said the inside of a beehive is more sterile than any operating theatre. Bee Propolis is nature’s antibiotic and also has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic properties.

Whist there’s a lot more research required into the extent of it’s efficacy, trials carried out so far have been very promising. A recent study in Cuba found it significantly inhibited the growth of human breast cancer cells.

Bee propolis is found in many products and it’s worth taking time to reserach the best supply. One excellent use of bee propolis is in the Forever Bright Toothgel. Proposlis has proved very successful for a variety of dental and mouth problems including plaque, gum disease and ulcers. Brushing daily with toothgel and added propolis can signficantly reduce plaque formation, as well as having an anti-inflammatory effect.

Skin problems are another area that react very well to bee propolis, when applied topically, due to it’s anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. A recent client of mine used Aloe Vera Cream with Bee Propolis to help reduce uticaria, an itchy rash, on her arms to great effect. A recent 3 month trial of 135 patients with warts showed by that those using bee propolis had a greater cure rate that those using a placebo.

I also read this week that bee propolis was used in a study of 40 women with infertilty and mild endometriosis. Amongst those taking 500mg twice a day for six month, there was a 60% pregnancy rate compared with 20 per cent in those taking a placebo. A lot more research is required into this use of propolis but it’s thought that it has a positive effect on oestrogen metabolism. As a specialist in pre-natal and pregnancy reflexology, this is of great interest to me.

It’s also worth taking propolis supplements during the cold and flu season. In fact, taking it before will give your immune system a boost but if you do succumb to a cold then the duration can be up to 3 days less than without supplementation. If you are going into hospital for a stay, then it’s worth taking the bee propolis for it’s anti-bacterial, anti-viral and antibiotic properties and early studies have shown that it’s effective against MRSA.

Bee propolis is also commonly used for the treatment of digestive problems such as ulcers and ulcerative colitis. It is thought the anti-inflammatory properties have a healing effect on the stomach and intestines.

As mentioned above, make sure you do your research into reputable brands as some companies mix the propolis with other ingredients thus possibly lessening its effects. I personally recommend Forever Living’s Bee Propolis. In fact I’ve been taken it regularly for the last few months but on those occasions when I haven’t taken it (I forgot to take it on holiday!) I haven noticed my sore throat due to hayfever comes back with avengence but goes immediatley I start taking it.

One last note of caution – if you are allergic to other bee products then it is not recommended you take propolis. Also, if you are pregnant or breast-feeding then do speak with your qualified GP before taking a supplement as there is not enough information in this area at present.

Image: Christian Meyn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Did you know that 1 in 3 of us will at some time in our lives have an allergic reaction. For some, this is a one off thing but for others it is a constant source of distress and misery. This coming week, 10-14 May, is National Allergy Week in the UK, aiming to bring awareness and understanding of allergies.

Allergy UK

An allergy is a negative response by our bodies to something that in itself is not harmful such as dust, resulting in symptoms and even disease in a pre-disposed person. These substances are known as allergens. Our immune system is working overtime and thinks the substance is attacking us, when it actually is not.

At this time of year, hayfever is a common allergy with people have negative responses to tree pollen, flower pollen and grass. Others are allergic to a wide range of substances such as dust, mites, straw, pets, chemical substances within household goods, food such as wheat, shellfish and peanuts and even medicines such as penicillin. The body will react in various ways such as runny nose, itchy red eyes, skin rash, shortness of breath and sneezing.

However for some people the response is far more serious, for example those with a nut allergy may have an anaphylactic reaction. This occurs when the chemicals released by the immune system in response to the allergen end up in the bloodstream and travel around the entire body, giving rise to widespread symptoms such a decrease in blood pressure, rash, difficulty in swallowing due to swelling in the throat or mouth and a difficulty in breathing. Those who suffer from anaphylaxis will have learnt to self-medicate with adrenaline which is injected directly in the muscles, and hospitalisation is needed.

Asthma is another common allergy where the muscles of the airways tighten usually in response to an allergen such as pet hair, food, air pollutants and household chemicals (did you know the chemicals in new carpets can cause an asthma attack?). Most asthma sufferers will use a reliever inhaler or preventative inhaler to control their symptoms.

However, in addition to the medicines mentioned above, many people turn to complementary and natural therapies alongside their medicine to help control their symptoms. Please note that it is important you do not stop any medication without prior discussion with your GP.

Firstly, Bowen Technique is increasingly being used to assist with hayfever and asthma, and as a general boost to the immune system. Bowen Technique is a gentle light-touch therapy which is non-invasive and works to balance the whole body using light rolling moves of thumbs and fingers over particular points of the body. However, Bowen therapists do not treat just the symptom, rather the whole body is treated, paving the way for the body to heal itself. In many cases Bowen provides quick and often permanent relief. With asthma and for those whose allergy leads to a shortness of breath, Bowen can produce dramatic results just be relieving the diaphragm and allowing this large muscle to relax, allowing steady natural breathing to return. Contact me if you would like more information about Bowen Technique.

Secondly, bee products are increasingly being used to support the immune system. Bee pollen, Bee Propolis and Royal Jelly have been used for centuries for good health. Bee pollen is one of the purest foods around and, together with Royal Jelly and Proposals, provides a wide array of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids. Hailed as a ‘superfood’, bee products can help build the body’s resistance and increase efficiency of the immune system.

Bee collecting pollen

Those with a pollen allergy are generally allergic to wind-carried pollens rather than bee-collected pollens and thus bee pollen may be safely used by even those persons who are prone to allergies such as hayfever, as they will usually suffer no ill-effects. It is thought the enzymes in pollen actually neutralise any allergenic properties. Contact me if you would like more information on bee pollen and other bee products.

Bee photo courtesy of Christian Meyn at Free Digital Photos.net

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Well, it’s obvious to me.

‘Experts’ have discovered that if you cook carrots whole rather than cut up, then they lose less nutrients. Of course they do! If there is less surface area for water to come into contact to, thus preventing less soluble vitamins from being lost, then of course they will be more nutritious.

By the way, have you ever had organic carrots straight from a farm, not these pre-packed economy carrots that are all exactly the same length and width? If you haven’t then may I suggest you have a try this weekend. Then you’ll really know what a carrot should taste like. Amazing.

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My lovely Mum had a bit of an accident in the early hours of Sunday morning. She’d got out of bed at 1.30am to cheer on some colleagues who were taking part in a midnight walk which happened to be passing her road. When crossing back over the road to go back in, she slipped over, crashed down and walloped her elbow and head against the tarmac. Unfortunately her elbow came out worst and was badly dislocated. Luckily there was a St Johns ambulance close by to support the runners so they saw to her until the paramedics arrived to take her to Stoke Mandeville. Big cheers for St Johns and the paramedics by the way as by all accounts they treated my Mum with excellent care. At the hospital she was dosed up with gas and morphine to take away the pain whilst they relocated her elbow but morphine can leave you with nausea which she suffered with most of yesterday.

The amazing thing is that she didn’t break any bones. At her age, 77 (although she is going on 57!), the doctors and nurses at the hospital were apparently amazed that nothing was broken at all – not her knee, which has a shiner now, nor right wrist and, not least, any bones in her arm.

Mum reckons that the supplements she takes went a long way to help the strength of her bones and meant that there were no fractures.

She’s been taking glucosamine for nearly 20 years. It was David Wilkie, the Olympic gold medallist swimmer, who found out about glucosamine whilst training in the US. He was so impressed with the results that he decided to introduce it to the UK. At the time, Mum had been suffering for years with lower back pain. My late Dad happened to see David on a tv programme talking about the product, and so Dad rang up the tv station to get some details and they proptly put him in direct contact with David. Apparently they had a very long conversation aabout glucosamine, David sent my Dad some capusules and Mum hasn’t looked back. Her back pains soon disappeared and Mum has been a picture of bone and joint health even since. Gardening, walking, running (yes, she did her first 5k aged 75!), decorating – nothing is beyond Mum.

So what’s with this glucosamine? Well, it’s found naurally in tendon, ligament and cartilage tissue and maintians strong healthy flexible bones and joints. Low levels of glucosamine can be associated with delayed repair to cartilage and studies have shown that taking glucosamine supplements can boost cartilage compound levels by up to 170%, thereby facilitating the repair process.

Research has shown that it can slow the progression of arhtiritis and in fact it is often taken by those suffering with osteoarthritis, especially that of the knee.

It’s available as glucosamine sulphate or glucosamine hydrochloride, although most studies has been done with the sulphate version. Careful though if you are allergic to shellfish as it is derived from them. There is a vegan version available made with corn. The maximum dose is 1500mg a day which can be taken in two or three smaller doses a day.

Mum has also takes omega 3 and 6 oils and for many years took cod liver oil which is rich in Vitamin D, vital for healthy bone growth.

Omega 3 and 6 are essential fatty acids, essential to human health but not produced naturally by our bodies. We therefore obtain them through food sources. Omega 3 is found in cold water fish such as tuna, mackerel and salmon whilst Omega 6 is found in vegetable oils. Studies have shown that a deficiency in essential fatty acids, can lead to severe bone loss and osteoporosis. Essential fatty acids may also enhance calcium absorption, increase calcium deposits in bones, diminish calcium loss in urine, improve bone strength, and enhance bone growth, all of which may contribute to improved bone mass and, therefore, strength.

So, if you want to be like my Mum, active with healthy strong bones well into your 70s, then follow her example and make sure you get the right nutrients in your diet, particularly via supplment form if your food intake is not as good as it should be.

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To Bee or Not to Bee

I’m big on honey at the moment. Active Manuka honey from New Zealand is incredibly high in anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties and is a wonderful treatment for internal and external ailments. It has been shown to be very effective at clearing up fungal conditions on the skin and, internally, can be taken to help get rid of a nasty cough. Manuka honey has even been used in hospitals to held pressure sores, ulcers and MRSA.

If you’re buying Manuka honey, it’s imporant to buy one that has a UMF – Unique Manuka Factor – as not all honey has the amazing antibacterial properties. UMF is measured in 5+ to 25+ – I’m using 15+ at the moment and took a huge dessertspoon before I went to bed last night. Usually, I’m laid up for several days with this particular strain of horrendous cold/chest infection but it’s like I’ve skipped a day and feel a lot better already.

When it comes to coughs, in my opinion you don’t have to stretch to Manuka as a good dollop of local honey can help much better than a sugary cough mixture from the shops. Local honey is also great for hayfever sufferers, if taken before the hayfever kicks in, as it gives allows the sufferer’s immune system to get used to the local pollen.

Unfortunately, in the UK and across other countries including the US, we could be facing a shortage of local honey. There is a parasite affecting bees and killing them off and almost one in six hives nationally has been lost. Bees not only produce honey for us but they also play a big part in pollinating many of our food crops. In fact bees are responsible for pollinating almost 90% of our apple crops. It’s not known exactly how this parasite infects the bees but thankfully the Government has pledged £10 million towards research to find out what exactly is going on. This is very welcome news as the vast majority of bee keepers are amateur beekeepers who operate for pleasure rather than profit and cannot afford the loss of their colonies. The £10m is funding research into agricultural factors, social factors and enviromental factors. Aside from the parasites, there are some scientists who believe that mobile phone waves be also play a signficant part by interfering with the bees’ own navigation systems.

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