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Friday, December 03, 2010

Flu vaccinations: do they make a difference?

Anyone who has had flu, proper flu, knows how nasty it is.  I once heard that the difference between having flu and having a cold is that if you're lying in bed and the doctor rings at the doorbell, if you've got flu you're too ill to get up and let him in.

So being vaccinated against flu is the answer, right?  Well not necessarily.  I have heard of many people who actually get ill after being vaccinated.  Not life threateningly ill, but ill nonetheless.  And one of the things that makes the flu virus so hard to treat is that it mutates into different forms, so you you may be vaccinated but fall victim to another mutation of the virus.

From my naturopathic viewpoint, vaccinations of any kind are contrary to the natural working of the body.  If you think about what happens when you get naturally infected by the flu virus, the virus will encounter many layers of our natural immune defences (the lining of our nose and mouth, mucus, hairs etc) and each time will trigger a specific part of our immune systems to fight back.

When we are vaccinated, the virus is introduced directly into the bloodstream.  The vaccination contains a form of the virus that has been made safe and non-infectious, but it has the right molecules to stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies to protect against infection from a live virus.  So although the end point may be the same, this method of producing immunity is totally unnatural when compared to what would happen during a normal infection.  Large parts of the immune system are left out of the process.

There is no doubt that vaccines can be helpful for life threatening illnesses in parts of the world where hygiene and nutrition are poor, but I believe that they are unnecessary for illnesses that we recover from fairly easily.  I also personally believe that the use of vaccines is in part related to the increase in allergies that we have seen over the past thirty years; such an unnatural 'assault' on the immune system is unlikely to be without consequences.

Dr John Briffa is a qualified medical doctor with a special interest in nutrition and natural health.  He has recently written two articles on his blog on the lack of efficacy of the flu vaccination: 'Flu vaccination is largely ineffective, despite what your government may have you believe' and 'More unscientific claims made for the 'benefits' of flu vaccination'.

There is plenty of other reading available for anyone with an interest in this subject.  These books are useful (mainly about childrens' vaccinations though):

If you would like any advice about how to keep yourself and your immune system as robust as possible (which in my opinion is the best way to avoid getting ill), then please get in touch.

What is Krill Oil?

No, it's not something used in the automotive industry, it's a type of very healthy omega 3 oil similar to the more well known fish oils.

But it seems to be even more beneficial for health than the fish oils that so many people are already taking.  It has been found that Krill Oil is 22 times more effective than marine fish oil in reducing the fat around the heart, and also better at reducing fat around the liver than fish oil.  Other Krill Oil benefits include showing an improvement in the symptoms of ADHD in affected children.  Plus all the other benefits attributed to the omega-3 essential fatty acids: immune health, heart health, reduction in blood pressure, anti-inflammatory, the list goes on...

What are 'Krill' though? Well, Krill are small invertebrates, a bit like prawns, that live in the Antarctic ocean.  Krill Oil has been around for a while, but one of my most trusted suppliers (Nutrigold) have just started to offer this fantastic product.

To read more about the science around this product, you can read this informative report here.
Nutrigold Antarctic Krill Oil
Or if you want to try some for yourself, you can get it from the Nutrigold website here.

And as Nutrigold mention on their website, if you are prescribed medication and have concerns about possible drug interactions, do always consult your GP before using this product.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Purple Potatoes

Last week I bought some purple potatoes from Sainsbury's, and very interesting they are indeed!

They taste just like normal white potatoes, but they really are very purple.  I had mine mashed, and it looked a bit like someone had put food colouring into it.

But there is nothing artificial about the colour.  The potatoes are a naturally occurring variety, and the purple colour actually gives the potatoes extra health benefits.  Most people are aware that fruits and vegetables with a blue or purple hue are good for you (eg. blueberries, blackberries) and these are no different.  The colour is due to anthocyanins which are naturally occurring antioxidants which will help protect your cells from damage.  Similarly, red onions are also slightly more healthier than white onions.

Why not give them a go?  The ones in Sainsbury's are called Albert Bartlett Purple Majesty.  It's always nice to try something new!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

November's Supplement of the Month: Multi B Complex

Nutrigold Multi B Complex
There's nothing new or exciting about B Vitamins, but you may remember that they were in the news recently because a study has shown that they can slow the onset of dementia.

Of course this comes as no surprise to us Nutritional Therapists - we've been using B Vitamins to nourish the brain and nervous system for years!

They can also help to boost flagging energy levels and support the body in times of stress.

I recommend Nutrigold's Multi B Complex.  In most cases one capsule per day is all you need to keep levels topped up.  You can get them from the Nutrigold website here.  Any questions, give me a shout.

Great Discount on Water Filters from the Fresh Water Filter Company

Following on from my previous post, here is a great offer to help you have healthy, tasty, filtered water on tap in your home.

The Fresh Water Filter Company supply under-sink water filters, so that the water coming out of your kitchen taps is free from impurities and super-safe to drink.  In fact they provide a whole range of filtering solutions including whole house water filters, and shower and bath systems.  Have a look at their website ( to see how you and your family could benefit.

The Fresh Water Filter Company are offering my contacts a discount of 15% on anything you purchase from them.  Simply quote the unique code FLO086644 when ordering from the website or over the phone.  This really is a fantastic offer, so do have a look at their website.

Can you ever really drink too much water?

A lot of water can be drunk in offices...

Some people clearly don’t drink enough water (ie. none at all), but there are plenty of people around who drink lots and lots.  Maybe much more than they need.  It’s one of those things that we’ve all been told to do and I think the message has got through – two litres a day or else.  But this magic figure – 2 litres – doesn’t take into account different body types and shapes, let alone weather conditions.  After all, you need to drink a lot more on a boiling hot day than you do when you are wrapped up warm in winter.  And there are other things that can affect our requirement for water; eating a lot of salt means you need more, as does sweating and eating lots of sugar.

There is really is no amount that we can reliably say is the perfect quantity of water to consume each day.  For every person it’s going to change from day to day anyway, depending on what you’ve done, eaten and drunk.

But my advice is the same as it is for food; listen to your body to assess what you need to drink.    Constipation can be a sign that you’re not getting enough water, as is dark urine, fatigue and headaches.  And feeling thirsty, of course.  If your urine is very pale, then you are almost definitely drinking plenty of water.

If you find yourself downing loads of water because you’ve been told it’s good for you, even when you don’t particularly want it, then you may be drinking unecessarily.  Try to decide whether you need water on the basis of how you feel, and whether you fancy it or not.  Drinking water because someone else has told you to is over-riding your body’s signals, and you may end up over-consuming.

I also feel I should note here that ‘water’ does in fact mean ‘plain water’.  It doesn’t mean water mixed with cordial or squash, or weak tea, or flavoured water, or drinks like Vitamin Water (I could devote another blog post entirely to Vitamin Water!).  But normal water that comes out of the tap or in bottles.  Plain water does not require any processing by the body – flavoured water sometimes contains artificial flavourings and sweeteners which need to be metabolised by the liver.  It is true that a glass of orange squash consists mainly of water, but so do Coca Cola and beer.  It’s just not the same as pure water on its own.  Some people avoid tap water on account of the chemicals and drug residues that it contains, and this is no bad thing, but for someone who doesn’t drink any water at all, then tap water is better than nothing.  And I also think it’s fine to drink sparkling water, which is something else that people apparently avoid on health grounds.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Lentils may not seem that appetising......

..... but they're so good for you!

Lentils, in common with oats and beans, contain soluble fibre.  This is different to the fibre found in wholemeal bread and salad; soluble fibre breaks apart easily in water (it is water soluble) and coats the lining of the gut wall helping to slow down the absorption of sugars into the blood stream.  This is important to help keep the blood sugar levels stable, which is a vital part of feeling healthy and energised. 

When the gut lining has a coating like this, it is much harder for undesirable bacteria and yeasts to take a hold in the gut. Therefore your gut has another barrier to keep harmful bacteria at bay. 

Soluble fibre also helps bind cholesterol, excess hormones and toxins released into the bowel from the liver and gall bladder, preventing their reabsorption back into the blood and allowing them to be bound to faeces and eliminated from the body.  If this route is blocked, these unwanted chemicals can build up and can start to affect the equilibrium in your body.

Many people simply don't know what to do with lentils.  If you want to sneak them in to your diet, I recommend adding them to some brown rice and boiling them all up together.  If brown rice is not already part of your diet, then simply use it instead of white rice from time to time.

Lentil salads are another tasty way to eat these little pulses.  M&S do a lovely lentil and rice salad which is good for a lunchtime snack.  Or you can make your own - one of my favourite recipes is Delia Smith's 'Puy Lentil Salsa'.  Or what about 'Warm Lentil Salad with Walnuts and Goats' Cheese'?.  

Or perhaps more appropriate for the colder months are soups with lentils.  If you make your own soups, simply throw in a couple of handfuls of lentils with the other ingredients.  And there are plenty of lentil based soups available in the supermarket or sandwich shops if homemade is not your thing.

With a bit of experimentation I'm you can find your own easy way of preparing them - I would love to hear of some new recipes, so let me know how you get on!

Are you listening to your body's cries for help?

How often do you reach for a paracetamol or an ibuprofen?  Every month, every week, every day?  Or maybe you rely on antihistamines?  Most people rely on some form of medication on a regular basis.

Taking medication like this regularly is a sign that your body is not functioning as it should be.  It may be something as simple as not drinking enough water or balancing out your blood sugar levels or needing more sleep, but taking a chemical to suppress your body’s natural signals is not going to stop the problem from happening. This is the difference between natural medicine and orthodox medicine.  

The pharmaceutical companies which underpin the practice of orthodox medicine go to great lengths to find special chemicals that will switch off your body’s cries for help, or shut down normal processes (eg. the contraceptive pill and medication that switches off production of stomach acid).  Natural medicine, on the other hand, examines why the symptoms are there in the first place, and seeks to find a way to rectify this.  Uncomfortable symptoms are usually a sign that something is wrong and needs to be put right.  

With my own clients I have seen that blood pressure and cholesterol levels can be easily controlled using natural methods.  Migraine sufferers can find relief, and allergies can be brought under control.  Digestive problems and poor energy levels - both things which are traditionally quite difficult to treat using conventional medicine - can be greatly improved with some simple, safe, interventions.

There is no doubt that conventional medicine saves lives, and in an emergency, nothing else will come close.  However, for day to day ailments or chronic diseases that are not life threatening (but may well be affecting quality of life), I believe that natural medicine is better by far.

If you have any questions about any symptoms that you regularly take medicine for, please do contact me and we can discuss what might be the reason this is happening.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Did you realise you were an adrenaline junkie?

Are you the type of person that leaves everything to the last minute, is always late, and ends up rushing to wherever you need to go?

If yes, one of the reasons for this could be that you need adrenaline rushing through your blood vessels in order to have the energy or motivation to get anything done.  When we are stressed - for example by realising we only have five minutes to get somewhere - the adrenal glands release adrenaline, which causes our blood sugar to rise and gives us energy to move and do things.  However, if you rely on this stimulus on a daily basis, your adrenal glands can become worn out, and your blood sugar levels can end up shooting up and down all day; unstable blood sugar levels can lead to energy dips, mood swings, sweet cravings and weight gain, to name but a few.

Adrenaline also shuts down digestive processes and increases the blood pressure, which is great if you need to run for your life, but not so great if it happens every day when you're late for work.

So what can be done?  Well there are various dietary strategies that can help to nourish the adrenal glands when they are worn out, and also to help stabilise erratic blood sugar levels, but also important is proper relaxation.  Spending just a few minutes each day doing, and thinking, nothing can be very restorative to mind and body, and will also give your adrenal glands a well earned rest.  If you find this difficult, I recommend a meditation CD called 'Guided Meditation for Busy People'.  It's a series of short meditations which give your busy mind some much needed time out.  Kinesiology treatment is also great for helping to cope with stress and the effects of unbalanced blood sugar; worries and fears can melt away leaving you free to get on with your life.

Get in touch if you'd like to know more.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Need a bit of inspiration?

Cooking new things can be daunting or too much of a faff, or perhaps you just don't know where to start.  But all too often we fall into a routine, eating the same old things time and again, which can lead to feeling dissatisfied with your food.  And food should always be satisfying!

With this in mind, I would like to share two great recipe finders that I often use.

One is on the BBC's Food website.  You can search for whatever ingredients you want have to hand - for example you can enter 'chicken', 'tomato' and 'olives', and a whole selection of recipes come up containing these foods.  And some of them are from the programme 'Ready, Steady, Cook' which means they are very quick to prepare!

The other recipe finder is on Delia Smith's website.  All the TV chefs have their own version of this, but I particularly like Delia's recipes.  They're tasty and fairly easy to prepare.

Also on the BBC's website is a section devoted to cooking techniques.  So if you want to know how to make your own fresh pasta, or how to fillet a fish, then look no further.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Why exercise doesn't necessarily make you lose weight..

Have you noticed that however much you exercise, it doesn’t make a difference to your weight?  Did you think it was just you, and that you needed to try a bit harder?  Or that you weren’t doing it quite correctly?
There’s no doubt that exercise makes you fitter and stronger, but new studies are showing that it doesn’t help to promote weight loss.  Dr John Briffa tells us more about it here

I first started to think about this concept when I went to watch the London marathon.  There were runners of all shapes and sizes, and everyone there must have done a fair bit of training – well, by the time I’d saw them they’d run 13 miles and were still going so that’s saying something!  I had assumed that all runners would be stick thin on account of all the exercise they were doing.  Not so.

So what’s going on here?  Many people think that exercise is an essential part of losing weight, and if they could just have the motivation to get to the gym, the pounds would melt away.

My belief is that overeating is the primary cause of weight gain, not lack of exercise.  Overeating includes all the times when you eat food that you’re not hungry for: food that you eat as a treat rather than because you’re hungry; finishing everything on your plate because you don’t want to waste it; eating the kid's leftovers because it’s a shame to put it in the bin; eating food because you ‘deserve it’; having a muffin when you have a coffee because that’s just what you always do; eating a big meal and feeling stuffed and horrible afterwards.

If you are overweight due to overeating, then you are likely to continue doing so whether you are exercising or not.  Your appetite may increase if you do more exercise, but you will still probably eat more than you need.

So it makes sense to look at the causes of over-eating if you want to become at peace with food and your body.  Doing any kind of regular exercise is of course a healthy activity, but it might not affect your weight unless you address the causes of your over eating as well.

My friends at Beyond Chocolate are experts in this area.  Reading their book is a good place to start, but they are also running a one day course called ‘Stop Emotional Eating’ which will help you to look at what role overeating plays in your life, and how you can change things.  If you want to have a chat with me about any of this, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Now wash your hands.

Most people are aware that hygiene is important to prevent the spread of illnesses, and hand washing in particular has been encouraged over the years to help stop the proliferation of infections.  But something I saw advertised on TV made me think that the cleanliness message is being taken too far.

I introduce the ‘Dettol No Touch Hand Wash’, an innovative way to get round the problem of touching germ infested soap dispensers….  This hand wash has a sensor which automatically dispenses soap when you put your hands near it, so you don’t actually have to touch the product at all.  When I saw the advert, I was a little dismayed at the messages coming through.

Firstly, are germy soap dispensers a real problem in the home?  Are people routinely getting sick because their soap dispensers are harbouring pathogenic bacteria, waiting to infect unsuspecting users?  I think we know the answer to that.  In fact, from what I know about health and illness, I would say that the possibility of getting ill from an unclean surface or item in the home is very slim.  

Secondly, this is fuelling peoples’ paranoia about dirt, which is part of the ‘Hygiene Theory’.  This is a theory about why allergies and other illnesses are on the increase in the modern world, and it is based on the fact that we don’t come into contact with enough dirt and germs whilst we are growing up.  Bacteria found in soil and the environment can help to boost our own levels of friendly bacteria which are heavily involved in keeping our immune systems working properly; being too sanitised can mean that we miss out on these helpful bugs.

And thirdly, this device uses batteries!  A bar of soap does not have the associated environmental impact or cost.  The strapline for the product is ‘never touch a germy soap pump again’, to which I would add ‘Use a bar of soap, it’s much cheaper’.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Apple Cider Vinegar

In response to a request from one of my newsletter subscribers, this month I thought I’d mention apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented cider, and is different from normal vinegars that you can buy in the supermarket because it usually comes unfiltered and unpasteurised complete with beneficial bacteria and yeasts. In fact there is often a cloudy residue at the bottom of the bottle which consists mainly of these bacteria. Apple cider vinegar is often credited with numerous health benefits, and can be popular as a weight loss aid.
My opinion is that it is unlikely to make a considerable difference to weight loss – weight gain is mainly caused by over-eating and drinking vinegar is not going to change that. It may however have digestive and immune benefits due to the beneficial bacteria it contains; fermented foods are no longer a significant part of our diets, and this may correlate with our declining digestive health.
One particular digestive benefit attributed to apple cider vinegar is on account of it’s acidity. The stomach needs a very acid environment for enzymes to work properly and for proteins and fats to be properly broken down. Taking apple cider vinegar with or just before a meal can increase the acidity in the stomach and improve digestion there. Very useful if you suffer from bloating or a feeling of fullness in the stomach after eating.
If you want to try it for yourself, you can get it from the Nutricentre (and many other health food shops) online here. To avail yourself of a 20% discount on *everything* at the Nutricentre, please set up an account using this link.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Always butter, never 'low fat spread'

I recently read an article by Clarissa Dickson Wright (of ‘Two Fat Ladies’ fame) extolling the virtues of butter. Although Clarissa is a chef and cookery writer, the article did contain some interesting scientific comment, and she happily tells us that although she consumes plenty of butter, she has a ‘cholesterol level that a five-year-old might be proud of’ – which at 2.8 mmol/l is quite impressive.
I too believe that butter is not something to be avoided and have always thought that it is better to consume food in a natural a state as possible, and butter is a natural food; you could actually make it at home if you tried, but margarine would be almost impossible to make without industrial chemicals.
And the evidence is stacking up against saturated fat being a culprit in the development of heart disease. Saturated fat has been a part of the human diet for ever, and it is only in recent decades that heart disease has escalated. Many nutritionists and doctors are now of the opinion that it’s not actually saturated fat that is the issue, but the processed trans fats that are prevalent in junk food. And poor diets which are low in fresh foods and antioxidants mean that the fat we do consume can become damaged by oxidation, and then builds up in plaques in the arteries. Dr John Briffa is keen supporter of this evidence. Many modern diets are painfully low in the ‘good fats’, namely the omega 3 fatty acids found in fish and nuts; this is also a big part of the heart disease picture.
I sincerely hope the message starts to filter through to the public so that butter is no longer viewed as ‘naughty’ or ‘bad’, and people no longer have to deny themselves of this natural fat.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

my new Amazon store

I am often asked about products and books I recommend, so I have decided to collate some of my favourite items in an Amazon a-Store.

Just click here to see a selection of useful books and other products related to natural healthcare.

I will be adding to it from time to time, so keep checking back to see what's new.
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