Who’s in control?

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You probably know that we are born with 23,000 of our own genes, but by adulthood we will have acquired an additional 3.3 million bacterial genes. So that means, bacterial genes out-number human genes, by over 100:1!

I was originally taught that our genes control everything. But now I learn that’s not true. It’s not true for two reasons. Firstly because the number of bacterial genes far outweighs the number of human genes, but secondly because we now know that our diet and lifestyle can hugely influence how those genes behave. We may have been dealt a pack of genetic cards, but we have control over how we play them. This is called Epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of how genes behave or “express” themselves because of what they are exposed to in their cellular environment.

We can take control. We can help our genes to work healthily. What we eat, how we move, how we relax, how we sleep, our resilience to stress, our thoughts, feelings and social connections, all regulate our gene expression. We can turn on genes that create health or disease – the choice is ours.

So now think of this, not just in terms of our 23,000 human genes, but all the bacterial genes as well, because they all work collectively together. Bacterial cells and human cells literally talk to each other, especially in the gut, where 80% of our protective immune system is found.

Your gut houses 500 species and three pounds of bacteria. Getting your gut bacteria healthy is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy.  Surprise, surprise, our bacterial colonies don’t like antibiotics, medications, artificial hormones, toxic pesticides & chemicals, alcohol, man-made foods and stress. Rather, they thrive on fiber-rich vegetables, low-sugar fruits, non-gluten grains, legumes, fermented foods, healthy unprocessed fats and a good daily dose of exercise and relaxation!

Why not start there, with those simple changes? Give yourself and your genes a helping hand and enjoy how those cards play out into your old age.

 

 

Diet & exercise genetic testing

You may have read in the papers today that gene testing is set to revolutionise cancer care. It is hoped that cancer patients are offered DNA tests to provide information that can guide highly personalised treatment, in terms of which drugs to use and how to administer them. For example, genes can predict if a woman with breast cancer might respond to certain drugs, or whether radiotherapy is likely to shrink a tutor.

However, you may not know that nutritional genetic testing is already available, on a private basis. I use genetic testing to guide my diet and lifestyle recommendations for clients. Each of us has our own unique genetic variations. The instructions that our genes give to our cells is influenced by the food that we eat and lifestyle that we live. This explains why different people can eat the same diet yet experience very different effects from that diet. Therefore, understanding your genetic variations is a key success factor in determining the best diet and exercise strategy for you.

If you would like to know more, please visit my website, www.newdawnhealth.co.uk/nutrigentics, or call me 07484 151419 to discuss.

 

 

Balancing Cholesterol

Introduction

“What should I do about my high cholesterol?” I was asked. I shall try to present an unbiased, evidence-based answer. I outline the main research, with linked references to look at, if you have time. I summarise what you need to know about cholesterol and its involvement in atherosclerosis, but please bear in mind that it’s not the whole story to cardiovascular disease management. I offer some private testing choices and non-pharmaceutical approaches to optimising healthy levels. If time is tight, just scan through the sub-titles to find the section you are most interested in.

The debate

You are probably aware of the mainstream medical view, the lipid hypothesis. It says that raised cholesterol is a primary cause of atherosclerosis (plaque deposits blocking the arteries) and cardiovascular disease. This originated from research by Ancel Keys and The Framingham Heart Study. A review of the history can be found here. Subsequently, there has been lot of published evidence affirming the relationship between low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and cardiovascular disease. This is why doctors prescribe statins, which reduce LDL-C production by the liver.

However, some have challenged this perhaps over-simplistic view. In 2016 a meta-analysis was published in the British Medical Journal. It concluded that although there was an association (note – an “association” cannot say that it “causes” something) between total cholesterol and cardiovascular death, the risk actually decreased with age and became minimal after the age of 80. This finding is inconsistent with the lipid hypothesis (i.e. that LDL-C causes atherosclerosis).

Another turn around was in 2015, when the US dietary guidelines advisory committee reviewed all the research over the past 40 years and concluded that we should not be concerned about dietary cholesterol, arguing that it “is not a nutrient of concern”. They simultaneously lifted any previous recommendation to limit dietary cholesterol in our diets.

So, yes… the highly nutritious egg, once vilified, is now considered safe to consume.

What is cholesterol? Why do we need it?

Cholesterol is a fat molecule that’s found in every cell of the body. It is an essential part of our cell membranes, where it controls the movement of molecules into and out of the cell. It forms the chemical backbone of our adrenal hormones; sex hormones and vitamin D. Bile salts, made in the liver are also made of cholesterol. Bile salts help us emulsify (break down) fats into smaller absorbable molecules. It is said that we make approximately 75% of our own cholesterol in the liver and intestines. If dietary intake is low, our body makes more and dietary intake is high, the body makes less.

What are LDL-C and HDL-C?

Cholesterol molecules come in different shapes and sizes. They are carried in our bloodstreams by carrier proteins, because being a fat-soluble substance; cholesterol can’t mix with water in the bloodstream. The cholesterol molecules, together with their carrier proteins are called lipoproteins (meaning molecules of fat and protein). You will have heard of two (of 5) kinds of lipoproteins: low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). I am not going to call them “good” or “bad”, because scientists no longer think it’s that simple.

Cholesterol molecules can also be classified by their size, small and dense or large and fluffy. Some scientists believe that the small, dense LDL-C molecules are more damaging to our artery walls because they are small enough to squeeze through the artery walls and get lodged there. However, contrary to this, other doctors, like Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, argue that the LDL-C molecules are present as part of the arterial repair process, and they are not the actual cause at all. HDL cholesterol has gained interest as a more cardio protective molecule, but more research is still needed, as much is still under debate. Also, measuring molecule size has not been widely accepted in clinical practice yet.

Triglycerides and phospholipids are again molecules of fat in the bloodstream, which can either be burned for energy or stored as fat. They are often measured alongside cholesterol.

Cholesterol’s role in damaging the artery

Dr. John Campbell, cardiologist, describes the mainstream view of the cellular mechanisms of atherosclerosis in this Youtube video (48 mins).

It is believed that the body uses cholesterol like a “protective plaster” to the everyday normal chemical and physical damage that happens in the inner lining of our arteries as millions of blood cells, proteins and other molecules rush along. The body tries to repair this damage by laying down a protective layer of fat (cholesterol). This would seem like a good solution, but over time, the cholesterol can become oxidised, and this is where the trouble starts. One study reported that oxidized cholesterol was the strongest predictor of coronary artery events, compared to a conventional lipid panel test.

So, oxidised cholesterol is perceived by the body to be a foreign molecule, which needs to be removed. In response, the immune system brings in white blood cells called macrophages, to engulf or consume the oxidised cholesterol. In so doing, the macrophages become swollen cholesterol-laden “foam cells”. At this stage, we can see the fatty streaks under the microscope. Once full, the foam cells send out chemical SOS messages (cytokines) and the inflammatory response is initiated. The cytokine-mediated inflammation in the artery wall then triggers smooth muscle cells in the inner artery wall to produce collagen to help sure up the damage. This plaque gets ever bigger until it eventually ruptures, leading to the formation of a blood clot (thrombus), which can later block an artery and cause a heart attack. The diagram below illustrates this.

artery

Formation of atherosclerosis

 

 

What determines the levels of cholesterol in our bloodstream?

The regulation of cholesterol in our body is a complex – believe me! Cell membrane receptors, enzyme feedback mechanisms and genetic factors all play a part. This heavyweight paper in 2002 states that there are over “30 genes dedicated to the synthesis and uptake of cholesterol, fatty acids, triglycerides and phospholipids”. More research is needed into how and why some of these control mechanisms may go awry.

Recommendations

Testing options

High cholesterol has no symptoms. Taking a cholesterol test is therefore a logical place to start. A standard lipid panel includes total cholesterol, LDL-C, HDL-C and triglycerides. From these, you can calculate your lipid ratios, which also helps to assess your risk. Please be aware that reference ranges for optimum levels vary between different published sources. Heart UK – the cholesterol charity, gives the following ranges:

  • Total Cholesterol (TC) – Ideally, 5 mmol/L or less (this is currently disputed)
  • LDL-Cholesterol (LDL-C) – ideally, 3 mmol/L or less
  • HDL-Cholesterol (HDL-C) – ideally, over 1mmol/L (men), over 1.2mmol/L (women).
  • TC:HDL ratio – TC divided by HDL-C. > 6 is considered high risk – the lower the better.
  • Triglyceride (TG) – Ideally, below 2.0 mmol/L (others say 1.7) on a fasting sample.

A straightforward home test (same as your GP would do) can now be performed with a finger prick test, Thriva’s Lifestyle test, which is £39. Alternatively, you can buy your own home self-testing kit for regular monitoring.

At the top end of the private testing market you will find Genova Diagnostics CV Health test. You might consider this test if you have a family history of heart disease, know that you have abnormal blood lipids, have obesity and/or diabetes, smoke and are physically inactive. Using state of the art technology, this comprehensive test measures a range of cardiovascular health markers (not just cholesterol). It measures the size and density of the cholesterol molecules, other important lipoproteins and inflammatory markers, homocysteine, fibrinogen and an insulin resistance score. This costs £240 and requires a full blood sample to be taken. Please don’t expect to get this on the NHS.

In addition, and particularly if you are overweight, have diabetes or metabolic syndrome you would be wise to ask your GP to test your fasting insulin level and fasting blood glucose level (normal is 4.0-5.9mmol/L), because both are indicators for heart disease.

Dietary recommendations

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines state that improving diet and lifestyle should be considered for primary prevention, before statin treatment commences. They also acknowledge that people may well need help in making those changes. Ask me, your Nutritional Therapist or Mother Nature’s Diet. Here are some researched suggestions:

Foods to avoid and why

  1. Avoid hydrogenated and trans fats found in most processed foods, margarine, baked goods, fried foods, sauces and salad dressings. Read here and here for more information.
  1. Avoid refined plant oils – high in omega 6 fats. I know, against all the advice we were told two decades ago. So don’t use refined vegetable oil, sunflower oil, corn oil and rapeseed oil. Omega 6 fats are linked to an increased risk of death among patients with heart disease, according to a 2013 British Medical Journal study.
  1. Avoid oxidized cholesterol. Cholesterol can be oxidized outside and inside our bodies. So it makes sense, at least, to avoid oxidized cholesterol in food. This hamster study demonstrated that oxidized cholesterol was more atherogenic than non-oxidized cholesterol. Avoid factors known to oxidise cholesterol (make it go rancid) such as commercially cooked and refrigerated meats (this means processed meats, such as smoked sausages and formed luncheon meats), deep fried foods, charring or frying at high temperatures, sunlight, microwave radiation. Keep animal foods in the dark, sealed from the air and in the fridge. Cook them gently and slowly. Don’t brown them or burn them – like they’ve been advising in the news recently.
  1. Avoid highly refined carbohydrate foods, such as biscuits, cakes, pastry, sweets, crisps etc. which raise blood sugar (hyperglycemia). When blood sugar is high, insulin will rise and in turn this causes a rise in triglycerides. The same applies to large amounts of fructose (from fruit juices) and high-fructose corn syrup in processed foods – both increase your body’s triglyceride levels, lower HDL-C and raise LDL-C. We do now know that low-carbohydrate diets (compared with low-fat diets) improve insulin resistance, HDL-C, LDL-C, particle size and particle number. Equally importantly, low-carbohydrate diets reduce inflammation.

Foods to eat and why

  1. Eat plenty of polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties. These food help to reduce cholesterol oxidation that takes place in our bodies. Some of the richest sources are cloves, dried peppermint, star anise, cocoa powder, dried oregano, celery seeds, dark chocolate (yay!), flaxseeds, elderberries, blackcurrants, chestnuts, black olives.
  1. Use coconut oil, grass-fed butter or olive oil for frying & roasting because they are high in monosaturated or saturated fats and therefore more stable at higher temperatures and less likely to oxidize.
  1. Eat mixed nuts (one handful every day) and extra virgin olive oil drizzled over salads and vegetables. Both foods help to reduce plaque formation and dilate blood vessels.
  1. Eat foods high in soluble fibre because it helps reduce cholesterol absorption from the intestine. Try oats, psyllium (a fibre supplement), flaxseeds, vegetables, apples & pears, beans & lentils, nuts & seeds. Soluble fibre also decreases systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Aim for 25-40g/day.
  1. Eat foods high in natural plant sterols (2g/day). They are found in fruit and vegetables, e.g. whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Sterols have a chemical structure similar to cholesterol and therefore compete with cholesterol for intestinal absorption. Studies show their effectiveness.
  1. Eat soya based foods, containing Isoflavones, which help to reduce LDL-C. Choose traditional soya products like tempeh, miso and soy sauce or tamari. Avoid GMO soy. Choose organic, non-GMO or fermented soy. Beware, too much soy foods may not be beneficial if you have thyroid problems.
  1. Eat more Omega 3 fats Eating oily fish at least once a week can result in a 15% reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and a 36% reduction in CVD mortality. Try wild-caught salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines and anchovies. The NHS recognises the benefit of oily fish (around two oily–fish based meals a week can be beneficial for lowering triglycerides.

The Portfolio diet was designed by David Jenkins. Michael Moseley, of BBC fame, investigated the claims of the Portfolio diet to reduce cholesterol. The diet is a low-fat, mainly vegan (low dairy & egg) dietary approach combined with cholesterol-lowering plant foods. The results of his investigation were intriguingly mixed. In Dr Mosley’s trial, significant reductions in LDL-C were be obtained by simple dietary changes. The summary is written up nicely here. More details of the Portfolio diet can be found here. Another study supports the portfolio diet for reducing small LDL-C particle number and therefore supporting cardiovascular health.

Lifestyle recommendations

  1. Limit alcohol to one unit a day for women and two units for men, advises the current European guidelines for cardiovascular disease.
  1. Exercise regularlyStudies show consistent, regular exercise can optimise cholesterol and triglyceride levels, lower blood glucose and help maintain a healthy weight.
  2. 3. Focus on quality sleep – Quality sleep stabilises high blood sugar, which we already know lowers cholesterol. Avoid night-time snacking which raises LDL-C and our risk of obesity.

Conclusion

We know that there is no one single cause for high cholesterol and we know that high LDL-C isn’t the whole answer to atherosclerosis. Otherwise we would be able to explain why many people have raised blood cholesterol but don’t develop heart disease, and vice versa, why many people with coronary artery disease don’t have high blood cholesterol.

Meanwhile, what should we do if we have high cholesterol? I suggest, follow the guidelines – first start with diet and lifestyle modifications, as outlined above. Consider your genetics. Consider your diet, smoking, alcohol, exercise and sleep habits. Remember, cholesterol is only part of the story. Please also consider your blood pressure, glycemic control, weight management and fitness to reduce cardiovascular risk.

Natural dietary alternatives to help osteoarthritis

National Arthritis Week – 12-19th Oct 2016

In support of helping those with arthritis, I offer this brief review of natural alternatives to painkillers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS).

 It might surprise you to know that in 2015, the prestigious British Medical Journal (BMJ), published a systematic review and meta-analysis (that means using the most objective research methods possible) stating that Paracetamol was ineffective in the treatment of low back pain and provides minimal short term benefit for people with osteoarthritis1. Not only that, but the more we consume, the greater our risk of stomach, cardiovascular and kidney damage2.

 In September this year, another study, also published in the BMJ, looked at 10 million Europeans who took NSAIDs, such as diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen. They found that use of these NSAIDs was found to be associated with a 19% increase of risk of hospital admission for heart failure3.

So, what alternative options do we have?

First and foremost, I would recommend moving towards a whole food, unprocessed diet, packed with a rainbow of colourful fruits and vegetables at every meal. Add good quality proteins from oily fish (wild salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel, anchovies) or grass-fed meat or organically raised poultry. Add healthy fats from olives, extra virgin olive oil, coconuts, avocado, ghee (homemade from organic butter), nuts and seeds. Choose smaller portions of carbohydrates from wholegrain varieties, like quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice or sweet potatoes. Simply removing the processed foods, foods high in trans and damaged fats and refined sugary carbohydrates will go a long way to lowering the overall inflammation in your body.

 Beyond that, here are two of the best-studied supplemental options.

Curcumin (turmeric)

The spice turmeric contains Curcumin, which is a bright orange-yellow, bioactive phytochemical with beneficial anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It works by blocking inflammatory enzymes in our body’s metabolism. Numerous clinical studies have repeatedly proven the effectiveness of curcumin. A good example is a 2014 study, which showed curcumin to be as effective as NSAIDs at reducing key markers of inflammation, in patients with arthritis, yet without unwanted side effects4. Again, a 2016 meta-analysis (study of studies) of 8 well-designed randomly controlled trials (RCT’s) showed that curcumin dampened-down a known metabolic marker for inflammation5.

Whilst you can increase your intake of curcurmin by adding fresh and dried turmeric to your food, it’s very difficult to get enough for it to be therapeutically worthwhile.  Supplementation is recommended using micronized powder and in particular the liquid micellar formulation of curcurmin significantly improved our ability to absorb it6.

Omega-3 Fish Oil

There is no disputing that Omega-3 fish oils have been shown in numerous studies to have a positive impact on pain, the joints, arthritis and other inflammatory conditions7. Omega-3 fish oils generally need to be taken for 3 months to build up levels and to experience health benefits.

 

References

You can read any of these references, simply by copying and pasting the study title into your Google search bar.

  1. Machado GC, Maher CG, Ferreira PH, Pinheiro MB, Lin CWC, Day RO, McLachlan AJ, Ferreira ML (2015). Efficacy and safety of paracetamol for spinal pain and osteoarthritis: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised placebo controlled trials. British Medical Journal, 350:1225.
  1. Roberts E, Nunes VD, Buckner S, Latchem S, Constanti M, Miller P, Doherty M, Zhang W, Birrell F, Porcheret M, Dziedzic K (2016). Paracetamol: not as safe as we thought? A systematic literature review of observational studies. Annals of the rheumatic diseases, 75:552-559.
  1. Arfè A, Scotti L, Varas-Lorenzo C, Nicotra F, Zambon A, Kollhorst B, Schink T, Garbe E, Herings R, Straatman H, Schade R (2016). Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and risk of heart failure in four European countries: nested case-control study. British Medical Journal, 354:4857.
  1. Nakagawa Y, Mukai S, Yamada S, Matsuoka M, Tarumi E, Hashimoto T, Tamura C, Imaizumi A, Nishihira J, Nakamura T (2014). Short-term effects of highly-bioavailable curcumin for treating knee osteoarthritis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled prospective study. Journal of Orthopaedic Science, 19:933-939.
  1. Sahebkar A, Cicero AF, Simental-Mendía LE, Aggarwal BB, Gupta SC (2016). Curcumin down regulates human tumor necrosis factor-α levels: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Pharmacological research, 107:234-242.
  1. Schiborr C, Kocher A, Behnam D, Jandasek J, Toelstede S, Frank J (2014). The oral bioavailability of curcumin from micronized powder and liquid micelles is significantly increased in healthy humans and differs between sexes. Molecular nutrition & food research, 58:516-527.
  1. Goldberg RJ, Katz J (2007). A meta-analysis of the analgesic effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for inflammatory joint pain. Pain, 129:210-223.

Are you carbohydrate intolerant or resistant?

This post follows on the first of Mark Hyman’s tips on optimum health. Point number one… “eat to balance your blood sugar”. If you don’t understand this, but want to, please find 15 minutes to watch this video from Professor Tim Noakes. He is a South African professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Cape Town.

His video is entertaining and massively informative. Look out for the part where he says that “Nutrition is a critical determinant of health and he believes 80% of chronic diseases are nutrition dependent”.

Carbohydrate intolerance is about the body’s inability to store carbohydrates in muscle tissue, ready to burn off, instead it stores them in fat tissue. This initiates a “hibernation response” in the body’s processes whereby we store more fat, take less exercise and eat more. Diabetes and metabolic syndrome are the ultimate consequences of this.

Listen out for the list of common symptoms he completed cured himself of. It’s very encouraging.

What are you studying now, Dawn?

As I keep being asked this question, I thought I might say a little about what I am studying.

Officially, I’m studying for my third degree. This time around it’s in “Nutritional Therapy”, which to most of us means “Nutrition”. I will (if I can keep going) get a diploma in 3 years and a degree in 4 years from now. However, despite it’s name, our course is thoroughly founded on the principles of Functional Medicine (FM), which is what I want to explain.

The Institute of Functional Medicine was founded in America where a growing group of doctors are practising a “new” paradigm of medicine. It began way back in 1949 by a double nobel prize winning physician called Linus Pauling. The new paradigm is the belief that it isn’t our genes themselves that cause our health or otherwise, but how those genes are “expressed”. “Gene expression” means how our genes interact with our environment to cause or suppress disease. Dr Pauling firmly believed that one day, we would be able to manipulate or modify the expression of our genes to prevent disease.

Today, functional medicine is a system of medicine which seeks to prevent chronic diseases, those diseases we are so familiar with like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. FM seeks to find the cause of our symptoms because it is believed that  symptoms are the body’s attempt at correcting itself… they should not necessarily be suppressed without understanding what purpose they serve. FM practitioners don’t necessarily group all the symptoms together, give it a name or diagnosis and then prescribe drugs to suppress the symptoms.  Rather, they search for the causes of the symptoms, i.e. which body systems are suffering and how your genes are being affected by your environment. What are you doing to your body that is causing it not to work properly?  Once those processes have been identified, the treatment is to provide the body with what it needs to correct itself and remove any factors that are stopping the body from recovering. Each person is a new case and different to the last, even though the conventional medical diagnosis may be the same. The reason for this is that each person has his or her own unique biochemical makeup which must be treated individually.

FM is about giving the patient treatment choices to help themselves to achieve better health. FM practitioners believe that the body’s systems are a web of connections and to uncover the real causes, one must understand these complicated connections that span across gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, immunological and neurological systems. FM practitioners are therefore not specialists in cardiology, urology, neurology, focusing on just one body part or system as in conventional medicine.

FM works particularly well for preventing and treating chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, rather than treating sudden illness or trauma where conventional medicine excels. Disease is not seen as a separate entity which exists alone. Instead, health and disease are seen as points on a continuum between optimal wellness and ill-health. I particularly like this because it has always perplexed and frustrated me that conventional medicine says that you either have arteriosclerosis or you don’t…but surely, the build up of plaques on the inside of your artery walls is a gradual process, occurring slowly and often imperceptibly over decades, eventually reaching a point which requires treatment…either drugs or life saving surgery to open the blockage. Surely, it is better to catch small problems early rather then wait for them to be big problems later on?

I believe that prevention is better then cure and I very much hope that my efforts, in due course, will afford me the privilege of helping people help themselves, sooner rather than later!

If only we were as concerned with how our “insides” look as much as our “outsides”!

make-up_76

Have you ever considered how long we all spend “grooming” our hair, shaving our faces or bodies, washing & showering, applying creams, make-up & hair products? How long? Half an hour both morning and night, may be more? How much time do we spend buying clothes and dressing ourselves carefully? What’s the total time per day? Our society places massive emphasis on looking good. It’s part of human nature that we want to feel good about ourselves, feel confident in how we look. There is nothing wrong with that. I’m not criticising it!

However, my next question is this. How much time do we spend thinking of how to make our insides look and feel good? How much time per day do we think about what we put in our mouths and the effect it has on our bodies?

I think the reason why the amounts of times are so mis-matched is very simple. We see the outsides all the time but we never get to see the insides (unless we are gastro-enterologists). If we could see our insides, I bet we would give it a lot more thought and consideration.

So I want to share my learnings. It’s time people were privy to seeing what our insides look like. We want to know that our face creams are making us look younger. Don’t we similarly want to see that the foods we are consuming are contributing to our longevity, not auto-immune diseases, cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, diabetes and the like.

For me, seeing is believing. Knowing isn’t knowing until you have experiences something.

Over the next few weeks, I would like explain how our foods cause this damage to our bodies, how they cause irritation to the delicate lining of our stomachs and intestines which in turn progresses to inflammation. Unresolved inflammation eventually causes the chronic (and preventable) diseases, now so prevalent in our western societies.

 

My “Red Juice”

This is my “energy giving juice,” as it comes from a selection of root vegetables and an apple. There are about 350 calories in it. Drink a small glass of it whenever you need a boost or crave something sweet.

My sweet treat!

My sweet treat!

I call it my red juice, for obvious reasons, but without the beetroot, it would be orange in colour. What I’m trying to do is consume as many of the colours of the rainbow each and every day, combining the vegetables as I like. This is a nice and easy guarantee of getting the range of nutrients we all need.

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is your best bet for preventing every chronic disease. The evidence in support of this recommendation is so strong it has been endorsed by U.S. and U.K government health agencies and by virtually every major medical organisation, including the American Cancer Society. So don’t just take my word for it!

Here is a link to a TED lecture presented by an American physician who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She deteoriated to the point of living in a wheelchair, but later recovered her health by eating, as recommended, as rainbow of coloured whole foods and a paleo diet. Just click on it when you have 20 minutes.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLjgBLwH3Wc&feature=youtube_gdata_player

The substances which protect us against our diseases found in these fruits and vegetables, are phytochemicals. They include pigments such as carotenes, chlorophyll and flavonoids, also dietary fibre, enzymes and vitamin-like compounds. If you can consume these foods raw, you will preserve the enzymes (so helpful for easy digestion and maximum absorption), that’s why people have taken to juicing.

Carotenes act as anti-oxidants and enhance our immune systems. Flanonoids act as anti-oxidants, have anti-tumor effects and also enhance our immune systems. Limonoids enhance detoxification and block carcinogens. Chlorophyll may stimulate haemoglobin and red blood cell production.

Here are a few examples of foods in each colour category:

Red – Beetroot, tomatoes, red pepper, strawberries, raspberries, red currents, cherries, red grapefruit, watermelon.

Yellow – Yellow pepper, lemons, banana, pears, melons, apples, yellow grapefruit.

Orange – Papaya, mango, orange pepper, carrots, Sharon Fruit, pumpkin, squash, oranges, apricots, sweet potato, yams,

Green – All green veggies & leaves, kiwi, avocado, limes…the list is endless.

Blue/Black – Blackberries, blue berries, purple cabbage, plums, aubergines, red cabbage.

Anyway, back to the method. Wash thoroughly and juice 2 carrots, 1 beetroot, half a sweet potato, a lemon or a lime, a chunk of ginger (size to your liking) and an apple if you want extra sweetness. That’s it. Drink in small amounts as you need to.

I did look to do a mineral analysis on this juice, but the mineral content didn’t look that impressive. The vitamin values, however, were more significant. For example, this juice will provide you with well over the Vitamin A you need for a day. Also, least 50 % of Vit. C, 70% of B6, 50% of folate, 50% of B5, 25% of manganese we need each day.

Beetroots are an excellent source of folic acid, fibre, manganese and potassium. They significantly help the liver in it’s detoxification functions. The pigment betacyanin gives it it’s vibrant colour and is a powerful anti-cancer fighting agent. Beetroot fibre (not found in the juice of course) has a good effect on bowel function and cholesterol levels. It raises the levels of anti-oxidants enzymes, specifically, gluthathione peroxidase and glutathione S-transferase, as well as increasing the number of white blood cells responsible for detecting and eliminating abnormal cells. In a study of patients with stomach cancer, beet juice was found to be a potent inhibitor of the formation of nitrosamines (cancer-causing compounds ingested as nitrates when we eat smoked or cured meats (look on the labels of processed meats, they all have nitrates and nitrites added as preservatives). Beetroot also inhibit cell mutations caused by theses nitrates.

Carrots provide the highest source of pro-vitamin A carotenes. Two carrots provide roughly four times the RDA of Vitamin A. They also provide excellent levels of Vitamin K, biotin, Vitamin C, B6, B1 and potassium. They are high in anti-oxidants. They contain beta-carotene which we all know helps our night vision and similarly provide protection against macular degeneration and the development of senile cataracts.

Sweet potato’s contain a unique storage protein with very high anti-oxidant properties. Generally, the darker the flesh, the more caroteines they contain. The help to stabilise blood sugars and improve the body’s response to insulin and and are hence called “anti-diabetic”. They are high in Vitamin C, Vit A, B6 manganese, copper. biotin, B5, B2 and fibre.

“Nasties” lurking on the shelves of our supermarkets!

I  subscribe to this group of health experts. This is a particularly practical article which is relevant to all of us and our children. I hope you learn something useful from it. The link below is to the article on their web site. You can join here if you want to.

http://www.hungryforchange.tv/article/the-7-nastiest-things-lurking-in-your-supermarket

Worth mulling over?

I don’t think I need to say much here! Suffice to say, let’s all stop and have a think.

Dalai Lama

When, in our busy day, can we take a moment to stop and put our health first. Would it be learning to eat slowly and thankfully, promoting good hormone release as we eat. Would it be to buy more organic food or food we have grown carefully ourselves? Would it be to stop putting sugar, caffeine and alcohol into our bodies?

Perhaps the money spent on utilising simple preventative health measures like eating a natural diet and avoiding stimulants will save us money, that we, (or the NHS) will inevitably have to spend later on in life, on over the counter medicines, prescription drugs, and the expenses of a compromised lifestyle due to ill-health.

What do you think?

 

More “Green” Juices

Hi Folks,

Here are 7 more green juice recipes you can try. They are from a great American group of health experts called “Food Matters”. Enjoy!!!!!! Here’s a link to their web site: http://www.foodmatters.tv/

Rosa New Dawn

Rosa “New Dawn” from our garden in Neston!

1. Perfect Green Juice 
Serves 1

• 1-2 celery stems • 1/2 cucumber
 • 1 large kale leaf

• 1/8 fennel bulb • 1 green apple • 1/2 lemon, peeled (optional)

 2. Crisp and Clean Green Juice Serves 1

• 1 large wedge green cabbage • 1 green apple
 • 1 large bunch romaine lettuce leaves

• 1” ginger root. Other optional greens: spinach, kale, chard and dandelion.

3. Boost Juice Serves 1

• 1/4 medium pineapple • 1 small handful alfalfa sprouts
 • 1 small handful parsley

• 2 large kale leaves • 1 large broccoli stem

• 1 oz shot of wheatgrass juice or 1 teaspoon of wheatgrass powder (optional)

4. The Nutrient Express Juice Serves 1

• 1/2 punnet berries
 • 1 small handful parsley • 2-3 large kale leaves

• 1 large carrot
 • 1 large celery stem
 • 1 green apple (optional)

Berries to try: blackberries, blueberries, strawberries.
Other optional greens: romaine, spinach, chard and dandelion.

5. Make Juice Not War Green Drink Serves 1

  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1 large kale leaf
  • 1 large handful of sprouts (sprouts to try – 
sweet pea, alfalfa, broccoli, sunflower1 celery stem
  • 1 large broccoli stem
  • 1/2 pear or green apple (optional) 
Other optional greens: romaine, parsley, spinach and dandelion.

 6. Extreme Green Juice
 Serves 1

• 5 florets of broccoli
 • 1-2 celery stems • 1 small bunch parsley • 1 green apple

7. The Classic Green Juice Serves 1

• 1 medium zucchini • 2-3 large kale leaves • 1 green apple
 • 1 small handful cilantro (coriander) • 1 lemon, peeled
 • 1” ginger root (optional)

What Are You Drinking?!!!

You're really gonna drink that?!!

You’re really gonna drink that?!!

“What is that green drink”, my patients ask me with a look of horror and disbelief, half concealed by polite respect, all over their faces.

“Good question, everybody always asks,”I reply, smiling.

So here’s the answer to all those good folks who have asked me that very question when they see this “green” drink on my desk at work. And to whom I’ve never really had the time to explain it fully.

Here’s the method and list of ingredients:

Juice (using a juice extractor) of 1 peeled cucumber, 4 sticks celery, 1 un-waxed lemon, 1 inch fresh ginger root, 2 apples.  I juice these so as to extract as much “natural living water” from them as possible.

Once juiced, I put this into in a blender along with 1 or ½ a big avocado, a handful of spinach leaves, a handful of parsley leaves and a peeled pear. I blend these last ingredients because that adds thickness to the drink but more importantly it preserves the fibre, which I have lost by juicing the first set of ingredients.

Blend all together and drink fresh that day, (ok, so I make mine the night before). If you can get organic ingredients, so much the better. I have read that the foods one consumes the most of, should be the ones you buy organically. That makes sense logically.  If you’re going to eat a lot of something then it should be as high a quality as you can afford. I peel the cucumber only because the skin contains most of the pesticide residues. This quantity makes a little less than a litre.

Obviously, I wash all the ingredients thoroughly, as I will be consuming them raw. Tips: Make sure the avocado is properly ripe so that it blends smoothly. Remove the parsley and spinach stalks as they make the juice too “bitty”. Use them in your stir-fry’s instead.

I would use kale if I could get it, (it’s obviously not in demand in the UAE) or watercress, mint, coriander, pak choi or any really dark green leaved vegetable or herb that your palate enjoys. Similarly, you can alter any of the ingredients and quantities depending on your nutritional needs and tastes. My husband drinks his on the way to work in the morning, says it has a kick like a mule and swears it beats a “Red Bull” to get his brain going any day!

Anyway back to the plot….

Why? Is the next burning question in most “normal” peoples heads. That’s a good one and certainly takes a little longer to explain! So here’s why. To be quite honest, I didn’t really know how good it was for me, until I did this little analysis.

Below is a table of major nutrients (in grams) and minerals (in milligrams) per 100g of the food.

Ingredient Ca Fe Mg K Zn Carbs Fats Protein Fibre
Cucumber 14 0.26 11 144 0.2 2.76 0.13 0.69 0.8
Celery 40 0.4 11 287 0.13 3.65 0.14 0.75 1.7
Lemon 26 0.6 8 138 0.06 9.32 0.3 1.1 2.8
Ginger 116 11.52 184 1343 4.72 70.97 5.95 9.12 12.5
Apple 7 0.18 5 115 0.04 15.25 0.36 0.19 2.7
Avocado 11 1.02 39 599 0.42 7.39 15.32 1.98 5
Spinach 99 2.71 79 558 0.53 3.5 0.35 2.86 2.7
Parsley 130 6.2 50 554 1.07 6.33 0.79 2.97 3.3
Pear 11 0.25 6 125 0.12 15.11 0.4 0.39 2.4

[Ca=Calcium, Fe=Iron, Mg=Magnesium, K=Potassium, Zn=Zinc.]

So, that’s all well and good but how many of the nutrients would I actually be drinking and what would that supply me with in terms of my nutritional requirements for that day, assuming that my gut is working well and I am absorbing the nutrients properly.

This thought takes me off on a tangent. How many of us know that we are consuming enough nutrients for our requirements. Very few, I suspect.  It takes a lot of work to calculate it all. Sure, we have rough guidelines, which help, and user-friendly marketing slogans like “eat a rainbow of coloured vegetables each day”. But for those of us who are sick, perhaps we should be working out our requirements to get ourselves better, rather than reluctantly taking the medications that our doctors prescribe. I can’t tell you the number of times patients have told me that they don’t really want to take their doctors prescription but they don’t know what else to do.  “Put the right fuel or building blocks into you body”, I say, “and your body will do the rest for you”.

My weightings came out like this and here’s the maths:

Ingredient      Ca      Fe     Mg        K    Zn      Carbs     Fats     Protein       Fibre
260gCucumber

36

1

29

374

1

7

0

2

2

370g Celery

148

1

41

1062

0

14

1

3

6

100g Lemon

26

1

8

138

0

9

0

1

3

60g Ginger

70

7

110

806

3

43

4

5

8

360g Apple

281

1

18

414

0

55

1

1

10

150g Avocado

17

2

59

899

1

11

23

3

8

60g Spinach

59

2

47

335

0

2

0

2

2

30g Parsley

39

2

15

166

0

2

0

1

1

160g Pear

18

0

10

200

0

24

1

1

4

Total

693

16

336

4394

5

167

30

18

42

RDA’s

800

14

300

350

15

30

% RDA’s

87

112

112

1255

37

141

Sure, I may be losing some nutritional value due to juicing the food and throwing away  (or composting) the pulp, but it’s a rough calculation. Not bad for breakfast instead of cereal, which is so depleted of nutrients in the processing that they have to add them back in at the end!

Now I can see that a lot (of those sampled) of my RDA’s are being met with this one drink, let alone the whole improved biochemistry one would get along with it. But more about that in a functional medicine blog late in the year.

We could also look, just for a taster, at what else I will be getting with each ingredient.

Cucumber is an excellent source of silica, which is a trace mineral important for our connective tissue. Cucumber also contains two compounds, Ascorbic acid and Caffeic acid which helps prevent water retention.

Celery is an excellent source of Vit. C and a good source of potassium, folic acid, Vit. B1 and B6. Celery contains phytochemicals like coumarins which have been shown to prevent cancer and enhance the activity of certain white blood cells. Coumarin compounds also tone the vascular system, lower blood pressure and may help migraines. Celery is rich in potassium and sodium and hence is great drunk after a workout to replace these essential electrolytes lost in sweat. Studies show it helps rheumatic pains, may help detoxify and lower cholesterol.

Lemon. We all know lemons are excellent sources of Vit. C, but additionally they are high in Vit. B6, potassium, folic acid, flavonoids and the important phytochemical limonene which is currently being trialed to dissolve gallstones and is showing great promise in anti cancer properties. Limonene is most abundant in the white flesh under then skin, hence why I juice the whole lemon.

Ginger is good for calming the digestive system, alleviating gas and as an intestinal antispasmodic, hence preventing diarrhea & constipation. It is an antioxidant and helps with motion sickness. It contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols, which helps ease the pain of arthritic joints if taken regularly. Gingerols also inhibit the inflammatory messengers of the immune system, thereby reducing inflammation.

Apple. In an analysis of more than 85 studies, apple consumption was shown to be consistently associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, asthma and type-2 diabetes, perhaps due to its high amounts of flavonoids like quercetin. We all know apples are high in pectin which is a soluble fibre helping to push waste through the intestines. Apples are also high in Vit. C and a good source of potassium. The skin is high in phytochemicals like ellagic acid and flavonoids like quercetin. Phytochemicals are chemical compounds found in plants which have beneficial effects, like antioxidants, but phytochemicals are not essential nutrients in themselves.

Avocado. The good monounsaturated fats in avocado’s include oleic acid and linoleic acid helping to balance cholesterol levels. They are rich in potassium Vit. E, B Vitamins and fibre. One avocado has the same potassium content as 2-3 bananas.

Spinach is very nutrient dense. It is an excellent source of Vit. K (which stops your blood clotting), carotenes, Vit. C, folic acid, manganese, magnesium, iron, Vit. B1, B2, B6 and Vit. E. It contains twice as much iron as most other greens. It is very alkalizing, helping to regulate body pH. It is one of the richest sources of lutein, making it important for healthy eye-sight and preventing macular degeneration and cataracts. It is a strong protector against cancer. Researchers have found that spinach contains 13 different flavonoid compounds that function as antioxidants and anticancer agents.

Parsley is high in chlorophyll and carotenes. It is high in Vit. C, folic acid and iron. It is also a good source of magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc.

Pears are high in fibre. Actually, they have more pectin in them than apples. They are high in Vit. C and copper which is good at helping to prevent heart arrhythmia, Vit. B2, Vit. E and potassium.

Way back in biology lessons, I was taught the Krebs cycle. It’s actually a 3-part cycle, each part of the cog driving the next, whereby carbohydrates, fats and proteins are broken down to their constituent elements in the mitochondria in each and every cell of our body. From these chemical processes, we derive ALL our energy to make every cell in our body function and survive.  More recently, I learnt that for this amazing process to happen, we need certain chemicals, enzymes and vitamins to aid the processes of cellular breakdown.

They are, Carnitine, B1, B2, B3, B5, Lipoate, Cysteine, Iron, Sulphur, Magnesium, Manganese, Co-enzyme Q10, Lipoic acid, Vit C, Copper, Selenium and Glutathione. Working out which foods contain the most amounts of these chemicals, as I said earlier, will be my next job.

Dawn Rowland

UK Registered Osteopath, (currently studying functional medicine)

BSc (Hons), BSc (OST).

Abu Dhabi, UAE.

056 2121 676.

dawnrowland@homecall.co.uk