If you have 45 mins to spare, and/or are interested in looking after your heart, please do watch this fascinating video of Mark Hyman interviewing Dr Aseem Malholtra.
Dr Malholtra, cardiologist and passionate advocate of preventing heart disease through diet and lifestyle, first came on to my radar 3 years ago with his BMJ editorial on rethinking saturated fat and cardiovascular disease risk and his work with the Action-on-Sugar – I remember posting at the time ‘wow, here is a bona-fida NHS cardiologist talking about the importance of diet and lifestyle over drugs – halleluiah!!’.The obsession with low fat diet and lowering cholesterol levels through lipid lowering drugs such as statins has caused the real risk factors for cardiovascular disease, namely high sugar / processed food intake, inflammation and pre-diabetes / insulin resistance to be all but forgotten. Fortunately, the tide is now turning…
Whether you are recovering from a nasty bout of flu, tonsillitis or stomach bug, or are prone to constant coughs, colds and other infections, these tips will help get your immune system in tip top form to help ward off all those horrible bugs.
1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year with anxiety and depression being the most common. Conventional treatment usually involves anti-depressant / anti-anxiety drugs for which there is growing evidence that they are not as effective as first thought.
This article by Dr Kelly Brogan explores the idea that depression and associated mental health issues isn't so much to do with a chemical imbalance in the brain, but linked to specific nutrient deficiencies / poor diet choices, digestive dysfunction, blood sugar imbalance and chronic inflammation.
This is something that I wholeheartedly agree with, having seen first-hand how simple dietary changes to address nutrient deficiencies and support blood sugar balance and digestive health can make a huge difference to my clients health and wellbeing - both physical and mentally.
Meat, particularly processed meats, were a hot topic last week with headlines screaming “Cancer Danger in Bacon – Eating processed meat is as bad as smoking” [Daily Express, 27 October 2015], whilst meat producers, butchers and Paleo diet enthusiasts were up in arms, making accusations of scaremongering and contradicting that there was no evidence that red and processed meat gave you cancer. So what brought this all on? Is eating meat really as bad as smoking??
Although it may not seem like it at the moment, summer is just around the corner. However for some, this also marks the start of that persistent sniffing, sneezing and wheezing that is hayfever. Hay fever is one of the most common allergies in UK, estimated to affect 12 million people, 15 to 25% in the population as a whole. Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is an allergic response to pollen or mould that affects the mucous membranes of the nose, eyes and air passages, causing these areas to feel irritated and inflamed. In allergic individuals, the immune system (which helps protect the body by seeking out and destroying invading bacteria and other unwanted substances) cannot tell the difference between threatening (disease-causing bacteria and other pathogens) and benign substances (such as pollen). As a result, the immune system over reacts to the presence of innocuous particles, such as pollen, which triggers the release of a naturally occurring substance called histamine and other inflammatory compounds in the area where the irritant entered the body. In the case of hay fever, this is the nose, throat or eyes.
Before you reach for the over-the-counter antihistamines and sprays, why not try some including some of these foods and nutrients in your diet which are known to support a healthy immune system and may help reduce hay fever symptoms.
Antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamins C and E, and other immune boosting minerals such as zinc and selenium, play an important role in supporting a healthy immune system. Not only do they help the body fight off winter colds and flu, but can also help to reduce allergy symptoms. Antioxidant rich foods include bright red, orange, yellow and dark green vegetables and fruit, and nuts and seeds.
Vitamin C (found in red peppers, kale, berries and oranges), together with the flavonoid quercitin (green leafy vegetables, dark red berries, apples and onions), are also powerful natural antihistamines which inhibit the release of histamine. Quercitin can also reduce inflammation by blocking the release of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins.
Omega 3 fatty acids (in oily fish, fish oils and flaxseed) have anti-inflammatory properties and may help to reduce inflammatory symptoms.
Probiotic bacteria play an important role in regulating the immune system. They have been shown to reduce allergic reactions and prevent allergies including hay fever.
Vitamin D plays an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system. Therefore it is important to ensure the body isn’t deficient in vitamin D, which given that the main source of vitamin D is sunlight, is extremely common in the UK population.
Bromelain (found in pineapple and nuts) is useful for boosting the anti-inflammatory prostaglandins, and has been shown to reduce allergy symptoms and inflammation, though it may be better in supplement form as these foods are common allergens.
For best results take up to 3 months before the onset of the hay-fever period, though it is never too late to start!
It is also a good idea to reduce your exposure with pollen and other allergens. There are several natural ways you can do this:
Charlotte Heald is a
qualified & experienced nutritional therapist, scientific researcher and busy
mother of two. She is passionate about food and firmly believes that what you
eat has a profound effect on health and wellbeing. Here she aims to share with
you the latest nutritional news and research as well as healthy eating tips,
nutritional advice and delicious healthy recipes.