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World Wellbeing Week: Why Sleep is a vital contributor to our overall wellbeing

This World Wellbeing Week, we spoke to author Lynn Crilly about the power of sleep to support our overall wellbeing. The following blog has excerpts from Lynn Crilly’s ‘Hope With’ series, which you can find here.

Are you allowing yourself enough time to rest and repair your mind and body?

Sleep plays a vital part in good health and wellbeing throughout all our lives. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help to protect our mental and physical health, quality of life and overall safety. According to the National Sleep Foundation, for a person’s overall health and wellbeing, school-age children (6-13 years) need approximately 9 to 11 hours sleep per night, teens (14-17 years) need approximately 8 to 10, and adults (18-64 years) need approximately 7 to 9 hours.

There is a close relationship between mental health and sleep. Many people who experience mental ill health also experience disturbed sleep patterns or insomnia. Furthermore, over a long period of time, disturbed sleep can actually lead to a mental health condition or make an existing mental illness worse. With lack of sleep, you may experience:

  • lowered self-esteem through inability to cope
  • social isolation
  • difficulty dealing with everyday life
  • low mood
  • low energy levels
  • depression and/or anxiety
  • inability to carry out usual social activities
  • feelings of loneliness.

Most importantly, being constantly tired can affect our ability to rationalise anxieties and banish irrational thoughts. It could feed into negative thinking patterns which are often associated with anxiety and other mental health issues. This can also work the other way around, with anxiety and over-thinking leading to restlessness at night that can make sleep so much harder to achieve.

Sleep and anxiety

The night-time hours can be especially daunting for anyone with an anxiety disorder. There can be a vulnerability associated with sleeping: a dread of the terrors that sleep may leave them more open to, as well as the fear that slumber will undermine the resolve and single-minded focus that they cultivate during their waking hours.

The sufferer may therefore fight against sleep, facing the next day exhausted and even more vulnerable to the dark and irrational thoughts that fuel the illness. So, the continuous cycle of physical exhaustion and mental distortion, serves as a huge hurdle to sustained recovery.

Quality versus quantity

While some experts recommend that an adult should have between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night, as quoted above, others say that the quality of sleep is far more important than the quantity. For example, if you have 6 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep you will receive more benefit than having 8 hours of restless, interrupted sleep. In the case of anyone with a mental illness, it is important to be aware that their mind may be so active and full, the sleep they get may not always be ‘quality sleep’.

Yet quality sleep is vital. Sleep is not just time out from our busy routines; everyone needs sleep to help both their mind and body recover from the stresses of everyday life. Sleep is a healing process, one I cannot champion enough, especially for those suffering from anxiety disorders and, indeed, any other mental illnesses.

Sleep has played a vital part in my daughter, Samantha’s, recovery from an eating disorder and OCD, as she says:

“Although sometimes I found it hard to get to sleep as my head was full up and could not think straight, I would listen to relaxation music which would help me to drown out the thoughts, making it easier to get to sleep. I found that having slept I would wake up feeling more refreshed. Sometimes if I was able, I would have a nap during the day which I found really helped me to think more clearly too. Without sleep I did not have the energy and headspace to cope with and move past the thoughts. Sleep has had a major part in my recovery.”

Establishing a positive sleep pattern

Samantha’s experience makes so much logical sense, but sleep is often a forgotten ingredient in the recovery process from a mental illness. Like many people in the general population, those with anxiety disorders easily fall into poor bedtime routines, checking social media late at night or watching TV as the hours tick by, forming habits that undermine good mental health and lead to physical and mental exhaustion in its place.

Getting a good night’s sleep is paramount for sufferers and their carers alike. There are things that we can all do to help us achieve this:

  • If possible, get into a routine of going to sleep and waking up at the same time, although this is not always realistic, I know.
  • Develop a pre-bed routine, which may include having a bath, or reading or listening to relaxation music, getting the mind into a relaxed state; this should help you to drift off more easily.
  • Do not allow tablets, smart phones, television or electronic games in the bedroom. Some people experience disturbed sleep due to the use of technology in the bedroom and blue light from many devices can enhance wakefulness. Going to bed and then spending time on these devices can stimulate the brain, making it more likely to wake up in the night and then have trouble getting back to sleep, due to feeling the need to check for messages, social media etc.
  • Make sure the bedroom is dark, as quiet as possible, and the temperature is comfortably cool (but not cold).
  • Alcohol and caffeine can also disturb sleep, as does rich food eaten late at night, so avoid these.

Rebuilding the energy we need

The benefits of adopting regular and positive sleep habits can be huge for our wellbeing. Having the energy to do things that we love, to connect with others and build a meaningful life away from any illness – mental or physical – are the cornerstones of recovery. However, these foundations are so much harder to build if we are exhausted.

Having seen and experienced first-hand how regular, good-quality sleep has benefited Samantha, giving her the energy and strength she needed to be able to challenge and overcome the negative thoughts in her head, I cannot reiterate enough the power and importance of sleep.

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Could it be a fungal infection? – A ‘must’ event for health professionals

BSEM’s Annual Scientific Conference – Mould and Mycotoxins: Infections, Allergy and other Pathologies 24th June 2022

There is a sad irony in being a health professional – or a health publisher in my case – and seeing a family member fall victim to an unknown health problem. My family member developed ME following a bout of flu and inappropriate treatment with antibiotics; by that time I’d been involved in the publication of some key books on the subject, yet I had no answers. Dr Sarah Myhill’s ‘Groundhog’ protocols made a positive difference. The Perrin Technique made a positive difference. But even so, Dr Perrin was the first to say ‘There’s still underlying inflammation coming from somewhere’. What was it?

Asking the right questions

Conventional medicine had prescribed omeprazole and a gastroscopy for gut issues, steroids for allergic rhinitis and asthma plus a PAP machine for possible sleep apnoea, and ‘graded exercise therapy’ for the fatigue, quoting the PACE study. None of these seemed to be seeking to address the possible cause and no one was interested in finding out what the problem was. Nut until I had a conversation at a conference with Dr Myhill. Could the problem be a fungal infection and the effects of mycotoxins? A blood test showed a range of mycotoxins that were off the scale and targeted treatment began, including Dr Myhill’s ‘Groundhog Acute’ regime, an antifungal medication and a month in a very dry climate. A repeat of the blood test showed huge progress. Where would my family member be now had that question – ‘Could it be a fungal infection?’ – not been asked and investigated?

BSEM’s Annual Scientific Conference on Mould and Mycotoxins has been organized by Dr Myhill, with a range of international, expert speakers. Hammersmith Health Books will be present to make Dr Myhill’s books – and those of other ecological health practitioners – available. All health professionals should increase their awareness of this largely overlooked problem and consider signing up to attend in-person or online.



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Hammersmith Health Books at the Get Well Show 2022

From the 17th – 19th June, we exhibited at the Natural Health Care Show by Get Well at London’s Business Design Centre, where we met with hundreds of people interested in holistic and natural solutions to help treat and prevent a range of health problems.

Located at stand M14, shared with publisher Chelsea Green, we showcased our range of award-winning health and medical books. We are so grateful that many of our authors were able to attend the show, present talks about their books and the topics they are passionate about and, of course, do some great book signings afterwards – where they were able to speak to attendees on a more personal level.

On the first day, Friday 17th June, Carolyn Garritt, author of ‘Get Your Oomph Back’ did a wonderful talk on the benefits of exercise after a cancer diagnosis and during treatment. She also did a demonstration on the types of movements and exercises you can do safely and most beneficially.

On day two, Saturday 18th, we had two authors represent Hammersmith Health Books at the show. Carolyn Freedman, author of ‘The Scoliosis Handbook’  demonstrated safe and effective exercises for anyone with scoliosis or who’s had spinal fixation surgery. Author of ‘Yoga for Cancer’ , Vicky Fox did a wonderful talk and demonstration showing how yoga and breath-work can alleviate symptoms of cancer treatment.

On Sunday 19th, we had a number of our authors present for the final day, including Dr Sarah Myhill, author of multiple works including ‘The Energy Equation’, ‘Paleo-Ketogenic, the Why and the How’ and ‘Ecological Medicine’. Dr Myhill gave an insightful talk on healing through diet by feeding our mitochondria with their favourite food, ketones, while Dr Raymond Perrin, author of ‘The Perrin Technique’ held an empathetic talk on the importance of good lymphatic drainage, especially in the brain, how poor drainage can be the root cause of chronic fatigue/ME and what simple, gentle exercises can improve lymphatic drainage to relieve CFS/ME and long covid fatigue.

To wrap up an amazing weekend, Sandra Hood and Dr Sarah Myhill also featured in a panel discussion where they debated and discussed Paleo vs Vegan diets. While they expressed differences in whether fats or carbs are the best fuel they shared the view that unprocessed plant foods, with all their flavonoids and fibre, support good health and that sustainable farming and respect for animals and the Earth are key to our future health.

Thank you to our wonderful authors for their involvement in the show and for sharing their insight and research with audiences at the event.

We currently have a special Natural Health Show discount running for the print version of ‘Paleo-Ketogenic: The Why and the How’ by Dr Sarah Myhill and Craig Robinson. Simply use code WDDTY2022 at checkout for 15% off!

Were you at the show and enjoyed reading our authors’ works or hearing their talks? We would love to hear your thoughts! You can email us at or Direct Message us on any of our socials.

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Carers Week 2022

Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contributions carers make to families and communities throughout the UK.
It also helps people who don’t think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support.
This Carers Week, Mary Jordan, author of ‘The Essential Carer’s Guide to Dementia’, details what being a carer to those with dementia means, and how people can lend them more support in their role.

Was there ever a more difficult time to be a carer? Especially a carer of someone with dementia.

Dementia is a very difficult condition to deal with. It is unpredictable. It is not an illness that has a set ‘pattern’, nor despite many texts to the contrary are there set ‘stages’ that the person with dementia goes through as their illness progresses.

The things that can help

A few things are known to be helpful: social stimulation, connections with close friends and relatives, access to good medical attention and support and advice, timely intervention when ‘crisis’ (such as falls, urinary tract infections, or accidents) occur.
All these have been denied to carers over the past two years.

How things changed.

A face to face meeting with the GP has become almost unknown. Appointments with a specialist are fraught with complications. Support services are discontinued. Outside visitors are not allowed during hospital stays. Friends cannot visit. Family members are denied access to residential care homes. Rehabilitation services are not functioning.

What carers are telling me

Rather surprisingly (to my mind) most carers are fairly accepting of the lack of face-to-face contact with GPs. After an initial period, most of them seem to have got to grips with technology enough to manage telephone, or remote contact via internet consultations. The biggest difficulty seems to be with access to ancillary services such as physiotherapy, rehabilitation, falls clinics, speech and language therapy and sight and hearing services. These cannot be delivered remotely and the ‘backlog’ after lockdown seems to have led to long waiting times for appointments and treatment.

Support Services in the community

Many carers rely on social support such as dementia cafes, memory clinics, ‘Singing for the mind’, seated exercise classes, Cognitive Stimulation Therapy, carers support groups. All these services were forced to close during the severe ‘lockdown’ period but it is noticeable that as soon as it was permitted and reasonably possible most of these services re-opened. Sometimes there were restrictions or extra guidelines, but the community and voluntary sector made efforts to provide these vitally needed services.

A wide variation in provision

Once government guidelines were relaxed it might have been expected that access to health services would be quickly brought back to pre-pandemic normality. But there seems to have been a wide variation in maintenance of restrictions and this has created problems for carers. One chain of ophthalmologists still insists on full PPE for staff, face coverings for customers and queuing outside the premises whilst another invites walk-in appointments. Some dentists still (strangely) insist on face coverings for patients whilst others follow government guidelines that these are no longer necessary.  Some physiotherapists and chiropractors do not allow anyone to wait on the premises, others have opened their waiting rooms.

Difficulties for people with dementia

Many people with dementia find difficulties in following social procedures such as standing in a queue, waiting in turn, facing a doctor or health practitioner alone (without the reassuring presence of a carer) wearing a face covering, or following a one-way system.  Whilst these procedures may have been necessary when the pandemic was at its height more thought needs to be given and action taken to end unnecessary restrictions now.
Often health and social care businesses are forced to continue to press unnatural restrictions on customers and clients due to the pressures exerted by those providing Professional Indemnity Insurance. This is wrong. If the Government has indicated that the situation has eased, then this should be definitive.
Life is hard enough for those caring for someone with dementia.  Does society need to make it even harder?

For more information about Mary Jordan’s book, ‘The Essential Carer’s Guide to Dementia’ or to read the first chapter free, click here.

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World Environment Day – How does your diet affect the planet?

An excerpt from chapter 13, ‘Considerations for planetary health’ in ‘Eating Plant-Based’ written by Dr Shireen Kassam and Dr Zahra Kassam.

Greenhouse gases and climate change

The global food system is a direct driver of three inter-related global crises: nutrition, climate and ecological. But what impact will your diet choices make on planetary health?

Scientists warn that without a drastic change to our food system, we will not be able to keep within these temperature limits and that dietary change is the most important approach to meeting these climate-change targets. Half of the world’s habitable land is used for agriculture with more than 80% of farmland globally used for meat and dairy farming. Even though estimates vary, the food system is responsible for over a quarter, if not a third, of the world’s GHG emissions and the production of and consumptions of meat, diary and effs accounts for more than 60% of these emissions.

It’s not just the carbon emissions from animal agriculture which are problematic but also methane produced by wetland rice systems and ruminant animals, and nitrous oxide from fertiliser and manure. With global warming approaching levels associated with irreversible and catastrophic consequences, the United Nations had made it clear: we have to address methane emissions now.

What would be the impact of adopting a plant-based diet?

There is a vast inefficiency in the current food system when you consider that animal farming produces only 18% of the calories and 37% of the protein consumed globally while using over 80% of the farmland. If we were all to transition to eating a meat-rich diet typical of the 20 most industrialised countries, we would need seven planets to produce enough food.

If we all adopted a 100% plant-based or vegan diet we could reduce the land used for food production by 76% and GHG emissions from the food system by up to 50%. The terrible impact of climate change and ecosystem destruction on our planetary life support systems has led to an unprecedented existential threat to the survival of the human species. Yet one major solution is clear and in our collective control: a global shift to a plant-based food system.


Surely, if we don’t eat meat then world hunger will increase?

One in nine people on this planet suffer from hunger, yet we produce enough food to feed at least 10 billion people. Independent analysis suggests that the true figure for those suffering from hunger may in fact be much higher than the official UN figures and that around two billion people remain hungry. The trouble is that our food system is inefficient and wasteful. For example, 41% of crops grown globally that could be eaten by humans are fed to farmed animals, however, animal-based foods only provide 18% of global calories and 37% of protein.

World hunger could be eradicated if we just used food crops for humans rather than animals. These figures do not even take into consideration food waste. One-third of food produced for human consumption is wasted somewhere along the supply chain, amounting to about 1.3 billion tons per year. More than 50% of this waste in Europe and North America occurs in our own homes, with animal derived foods spoiling and this being wasted more often.

The growing demand for meat is not only contributing to environmental destruction but is also compounding world hunger. Yet modelling studies show that replacing beef, pork, diary, poultry and eggs with plant-based foods would allow a 2-to-20-fold increase in the production of nutritionally similar plant foods, with removal of beef, dairy and pork, having a greater impact than removing poultry and eggs. For the US alone, it is estimated that  a fully plant-based food system could therefore feed an extra 350 million people.


If you found this excerpt interesting, you can order via our website, or read the first chapter for free here.


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Celebrating National ‘Share a Story Month’

May is National Share a Story Month, which is an annual celebration organised by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups to recognise the importance of children reading more.

It is the perfect opportunity to share our love of stories and books with our families and friends. In honour of this wonderful event, we are very pleased to share some of our authors’ favourite books they loved as children.


Join us in celebrating the power of storytelling and inspiring the younger generation to do the same.

‘The Happy Prince and other tales’ by Oscar Wilde

As a child, I adored reading this fairytale as well as listening to my grandmother’s retelling. I remember as a child being struck by the cruel injustice of society with the haves and the have-nots and the selflessness of the prince that ultimately leads to his tragic fate. The social justice message in this story is as relevant today as it was then. It is also a story of hope, inner beauty and how simple acts of kindness can transform our lives.

Rohini, Bajekal, Nutritionist and Co-Author of ‘Living PCOS Free’



‘Someone Bigger’ by Jonathan Emmett and Adrian Reynolds

My favourite book that I loved reading to my children was “Someone Bigger” by Jonathan Emmett and Adrian Reynolds. It’s about a boy called Sam who makes a kite with his dad and they take it out on a windy day to see if they can fly it. The problem is he’s told he’s “too small” to fly the kite, which promptly takes off into the wind, out of his dad’s hands and picks up various groups of people on its flight. Eventually, the boy does grab hold of the kite and brings it and its various passengers including a bank robber who escaped from jail and a postman with a sack of mail. I loved it because it just shows the little boy had everything he needed inside of him and he was always big enough to fly the kite if just only someone had believed in him.  So don’t listen to those who doubt you. Always know you can achieve anything if you want to and you believe in yourself.

Victoria Fox, author of ‘Yoga for Cancer’


Reading books is one of life’s most endearing pleasures. Born in 1949, my main memories of wonderful children’s books were those by Enid Blyton. Being female I adored Malory Towers, all about a girl’s school. The Secret Seven and the Famous Five series were all among my best reads ever! The Faraway Tree also comes to mind and I am pretty sure that was also penned by Enid Blyton. My mother taught elocution and public speaking so I was read to and encouraged to read by myself from a very young age.

She loved poetry and A. A. Milnes Now we are 6 comes to mind as well as the Jungle Book stories by Rudyard Kipling.  My father lived by the sentiments of the poem IF, also by Kipling and I currently have a framed copy of this ever-inspiring poem on my study wall.  I still never go to sleep without first having read a chapter or two of my current reading material. My own sons, now in their late 40s love Ladybird books as toddlers, particularly The Garden Gang Stories like Percival Pea and Polly Pomegranate by Jayne fisher.

Beverley Jarvis, author of ‘Eat Well to Age Well’


There are so many that stand out for us that we read 3 to 4 decades ago but still carry the warm feeling and images with us. Our top picks, full of courageous characters and magic include:

A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley, The Children of Green Knowe By Lucy M Boston, The Lost Prince by Frances Hodgson Burnett and the whole Narnia series, by C S Lewis, with our personal favourite the Dawn Treader.







Zahra Kassam, co-author of ‘Eating-Plant Based’

‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’ by Judith Kerr, ‘Tom’s Midnight Garden’ by Philippa Pearce and ‘The Owl Service’ by Alan Garner.







I absolutely loved to read as a child. I’m of the generation who learned to read with Janet and John, and I distinctly remember the thrill of parental praise when I grasped the word ‘aeroplane’ when Janet and John were going on one. Most of my childhood favourites were classics, and often centred on animals or nature.:Black Beauty, Tom’s Midnight Garden, The Wind in the Willows and The Secret Garden were read and re-read, often well past the time I’d been told to turn my bedroom light off. My Grandma had an old bound copy of The Flower Fairies which I found completely captivating..

One book I found particularly impactful was When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit: I think it was my first detailed understanding of the realities.. Anne Frank then taught me more. As I hit double figures, I discovered Alan Garner, starting with, and utterly loving The Owl Service, before going on to devour most of his work.

I lived in a village that had a tiny mobile library and I loved library days. It had a really familiar, musty smell. I remember owning, with considerable pride, my own little cardboard, hand-written library tickets and having a tangible sense of responsibility that I must look after, and return promptly, all of the treasures found within.

Carolyn Garritt, author of ‘Get Your Oopmh Back’

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How and why I came to write ‘Yoga for Cancer’


Blog written by Vicky Fox, author of ‘Yoga for Cancer’

Where it all began

I trained as a yoga teacher in 2008 and felt so lucky to be doing something that not only I enjoyed but I felt huge benefit in. I was always fascinated by the therapeutic application of yoga and how yoga could support people and in 2013 Laura Kupperman came over from Colorado to teach her “Yoga For Survivors” training which focused on how to support people diagnosed with cancer.

I had started studying with her when one of my best friends was involved in a tragic accident which meant that whilst learning how to adapt practices for side effects of surgery and treatment for cancer I also learnt how to hold space, be present with pain and not to be able to fix it. I think this was a huge learning for me just being fully present with someone with all that they were experiencing and with no judgement but just to be. This made my first few classes of yoga for cancer less frightening, remembering that these were just wonderful people coming into the room to have some space where they were nurtured and protected, practice yoga and maybe start to get connected to their bodies again.

What inspired me to write the book

The yoga classes gave them chance to switch from being a patient to being a co-crafter of their well-being and I started to meet the most fabulous people who shared with me what they were going through and I learnt to adapt so that everyone could participate in every bit of the class no matter what they were bringing with them on that particular day.

I volunteered to teach at Paul’s Cancer Support Centre which was a fantastic charity offering support for people living with cancer. The room I taught the yoga in was a shared space room that was used for other activities and it was not uncommon to go into the room, move furniture around and pick up the odd crisp that had escaped under a table. I loved teaching there but I also wanted to give my students the chance to experience what I felt when I went to triyoga, my local studio for a class. A dedicated space just for yoga with all the props you could possibly need and not a crisp in sight.

At the same time one of my friends worked for a company that had a charitable trust and they were thinking of sponsoring me to teach a free class for people impacted by cancer. As a result I approached Jonathan Sattin the owner of triyoga with this idea. We were negotiating room rates when I found out that the trust had voted for a different charity and so I had to contact Jonathan to tell him that I couldn’t teach the class as I didn’t have the funds for the room. He immediately responded that I could have the room for free and I agreed to teach the class for free and there we had it, the free class of yoga for anyone living with cancer started in April 2014. The “free” aspect was really crucial to both myself and Jonathan. It can be expensive being diagnosed with cancer. You might need child care, you might not be able to work, you might need to take taxi’s or have overnight stays in hotels. All this costs money and I wanted the classes to be as inclusive as they possibly could and being able to make them free meant we could do that.




How and when the book started to take shape

When we went into lockdown in March 2020 it was imperative that I got these classes online as soon as I could because I knew that community was a hugely important part of the class and suddenly we were all being told to stay at home and I knew this would be so challenging for some of my students. Triyoga immediately put a class on their online platform, on a Sunday, which quickly grew and I taught more classes from my home. If you knew anyone who was considered “vulnerable” during the first wave of covid you will know why the support of a community was so incredibly valuable. Some students were told if they caught covid they would not be able to be treated for cancer and other students had trials they were on cancelled as a result of covid. This online community became hugely important because students were unable to see physiotherapists or to get advice on certain side effects and so they started being discussed more widely in class.

The more I taught online the more I got to know my students, the more they asked for yoga poses that might help with a side effect. I wonder if it was that people felt more able to open up in this online format or whether it was just that they didn’t have as much choice. Students that only came once a week to class now were showing up to every class and I realised that what everyone needed support with was not cancer but the side effects of treatment for cancer.

I started creating little, short videos which I either put on Instagram or on my website with some ideas on poses that might help with cording, lymphoedema, scar tissue, peripheral neuropathy and other side effects that people needed support with. I had already started writing a book on yoga for cancer but teaching online helped me find more focus for the book and the idea of A-Z of side effects for treatment for cancer started to take more shape.

What I am most grateful for

I could not have done this book without the sharing and honesty of my students who have emailed me, spoken to me, opened up to me about what they are experiencing and asking what might help. They have trusted me and I am hugely grateful to them for this. My students really need all the credit for this book because it wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for them.

Anybody who is fortunate to work in a job where you contribute and others benefit will know how much purpose this gives you in life. I am so lucky to be able to do what I do and meet the most amazing people that I meet. By being forced into online teaching (which is now in a hybrid format of live studio and livestream) it enabled me to reach out to more people and where I had been unable to teach people that lived on the other side of London to me, I was now able to teach people anywhere in the UK or even abroad.

What I hope to achieve with my book

I hope this book will be an extension of these classes and empower anyone impacted by cancer that although you can’t control life you are able to control your response.

Remember, you can read the first chapter for free!

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Hints and tips for preventing food waste by Beverley Jarvis

This blog was written by Beverley Jarvis, author of ‘Eat Well to Age Well‘, to raise awareness of ‘Stop Food Waste Day’. Follow these quick and easy tips to help reduce your daily food waste and become more eco-conscious:

    1. Combine leftover cooked vegetables such as carrots, broccoli and sweet corn with tomato passata, mixed with a little vegetable stock and cooked pasta, to make a tasty pasta bake.
    2. Crumb day-old bread quickly in the food processor. Freeze, then use to make a crisp topping for sweet and savoury dishes. You could use frozen crumbs mixed with seeds as a topping for the cauliflower and broccoli cheese recipe on Page 89 of ‘Eat Well to Age Well’.
    3. If serving just half an avocado, leave the stone in the second half, sprinkle with lemon juice, cover and chill for use on the following day.
    4. Blend leftover oily fish such as salmon or tuna with a little lemon juice, freshly snipped chives and yoghurt or cream cheese to make a delicious, fresh tasting pate. See Page 72 of ‘Eat Well to Age Well’ for a delicious Crab and Wild Salmon Pate.
    5. Eggs freeze well. Always freeze yolks and whites separately and use within 3 months. See Page 195, for my meringues with strawberries and cream recipe.
    6. To make home- made soup go further, add left over vegetables with a little vegetable stock or left over cream. See recipe for hearty vegetable soup, on Page 61.
    7. Add left over vegetables to home-made curry to make it feed an extra person. See chicken and vegetable curry on Page 140.
    8. Combine equal quantities of left over double cream with single cream to make your own whipping cream. Ideal for fruit fools and toppings.
    9. Cooked rice keeps well, if immediately cooled and chilled for up to of a couple of days. It also freezes well.
    10. Make left overs into a plated meals. Cover and chill. Microwave the following day for 31/2 minutes on High to reheat.


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Author Q&A: Rohini Bajekal, co-author of ‘Living PCOS Free’

book display

Over the last few years, there has been a shift in narrative about women’s health, especially topics surrounding reproductive health. Renowned MD Obstetrician-Gynaecologist Dr Nitu Bajekal who has decades of experience in this field has worked with her daughter, expert nutritionist, Rohini Bajekal on the much-anticipated book ‘Living PCOS Free’. The book is all about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. PCOS is one of the most common endocrine disorders worldwide, which affects at least one in ten women or anyone assigned female at birth. Hammersmith Health Books is proud to be publishing this book, which aims to give those going through PCOS an insightful and inspirational guide. This blog is written by Rohini Bajekal, who gives a personal account of why she worked with her mother and co-author to write the book and what they hope to achieve with it.

‘Living PCOS Free’ launches on 28th April and can be purchased here.

What spurred you to write ‘Living PCOS Free’?

They always say you write the book you wish you had on your bookshelf. As Rohini had personal experience of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and Nitu has 35 years of experience helping patients, we both had a clear vision for our first book together. We had never come across a book on PCOS written by qualified health professionals that highlighted proven lifestyle approaches alongside western medicine and felt that this needed to be addressed as soon as possible. Nitu had wished to write a book for years but it took a pandemic and several lockdowns to be able to carve out the time to sit down and write it together. The initial idea was to write a general women’s health book but Rohini felt that since Nitu is an ObGyn, a general book would not do justice to the complex nature of these conditions as we would only be able to dedicate a few pages to each condition such as fibroids, endometriosis, painful periods etc. and that would not really help people to address their issues.

Could you tell us a bit more as to why PCOS is more than a fertility issue?

PCOS is often simplified as purely a fertility issue as it is the leading cause of infertility worldwide. However, PCOS and its other short-term and long-term complications are woefully underrepresented both in scientific research and mainstream conversations. It is estimated that as many as three-quarters of those living with PCOS remain undiagnosed.

PCOS is a complex condition that affects the way the ovaries function, resulting in a wide range of reproductive, metabolic, and psychological symptoms that affect women differently.  Societal stigma (due to patriarchal beauty standards) often associated with common symptoms, such as weight gain, scalp hair loss, acne, irregular periods and excess hair growth, means many women are unable to talk about it openly or seek the help they deserve.

In addition, many women are told that losing weight is the only solution to improving their PCOS with little guidance or support on how to follow a “healthy lifestyle”. In fact, 20% of those with PCOS have lean PCOS and are within the “healthy” BMI range, yet still struggle with the symptoms.

As people with PCOS have a higher risk of endometrial cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other long-term chronic conditions, it is critical to introduce sustainable nutrition and lifestyle changes as early as possible. All national and international guidelines recommend lifestyle interventions to be the first line of management for PCOS, even before medications. PCOS is a condition that is heavily influenced by our lifestyle — how we eat, sleep, move, stress, interact and so on. The book is packed with information on how to make lifestyle changes, including following a plant-based diet pattern, moving regularly, managing stress, getting restful sleep, nurturing positive social relationships and avoiding use of risky substances such as tobacco and alcohol.

What do you both hope to achieve with the book in terms of awareness and change for those suffering from PCOS?

Our hope is to reach anyone living with PCOS, a complex condition that does not receive the attention it deserves. We especially want to reach those from marginalised communities, including people of colour who are not always able to access the best medical care and support for a number of reasons that we discuss in the book. We have tried to be inclusive as PCOS also affects trans men and non-binary folk. We also hope that family members, partners and friends of those living with PCOS read this book to better understand it and to support the person they care about. Since a staggering 75% of people with PCOS remain undiagnosed, we also hope to reach those struggling with the symptoms such as fertility issues, irregular periods or excess hair growth, but for whom the dots have not yet been joined.

Advocating for PCOS is political and we hope this book is a stepping stone for greater change and awareness around reproductive health. The economic burden of PCOS was previously estimated at approximately $3.7 billion annually in 2020. Even more strikingly, this figure only considers the costs of the initial diagnosis and of reproductive endocrine morbidities, without considering the costs of pregnancy-related and long-term morbidities.

We know that ‘Pinterest’ is about to release a trend report which shows that searches for menstrual cycle are up as younger people wish to empower themselves with knowledge about their cycle – how do you feel about this and how it links in with your work?

We think it is so promising that young people are empowering themselves with knowledge and raising awareness of what a normal menstrual cycle is. Dr Nitu Bajekal is active on TikTok where there are a lot of menstrual educators creating content. We bust a lot of myths in Living PCOS Free around menstruation – we even talk about menstruation in non-human animals! So many people who menstruate struggle with irregular, painful, or heavy periods, not realising that these are not normal because of societal conditioning and lack of menstrual education. As a society, we have to do better at educating everyone around menstruation from a young age and doing so in an inclusive way. We also talk about the importance of tracking your cycle in Living PCOS Free and bust myths around issues such as seed cycling for hormonal health.

Since announcing you were releasing this upcoming book, what has been the reaction from you friends, family, clients and followers?

The reaction has been wonderful. We have been incredibly touched by the support we have received from our followers on social media, by our close friends and family and by many people we admire and look up to in the medical, lifestyle medicine and plant-based communities. Most of all, we have been honoured to receive a few especially moving messages from those who have PCOS themselves and who are especially excited about the release. We are definitely a little nervous about the reaction as we inch closer to the publication date but we are so proud of what we have created. We really hope Living PCOS Free will help many people and stand the test of time.

Could you share with us, a PCOS friendly recipe – (either from the book or one you like to make yourself!)

We have over 30 plant-based recipes from our family kitchen in Living PCOS Free which are incorporated into our 21-day plan.

One of our favourite quick and easy recipes in the book is our Paprika Hummus. Eating legumes (beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, peas) every day is great for short-term and long-term hormonal health as these foods are full of fibre, protein, minerals and vitamins. Hummus is such a versatile dip and this homemade version takes minutes to prepare. It can be enjoyed with a baked sweet potato or potato, on a salad or as a dip with raw vegetables. The recipe also uses aquafaba, the viscous water in which legumes such as chickpeas have been cooked. Aquafaba can be used as an egg replacer as it mimics egg whites in cooking, for example in meringues and marshmallows.

Recipe: Paprika Hummus by Rohini Bajekal and Dr Nitu Bajekal

Serves 4

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed but set the aquafaba aside
1 can of cannellini beans, drained and discard aquafaba
4 cloves of raw garlic
1/2 tsp of black pepper
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of cumin powder
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tbsp of tahini
1/2 tsp of paprika
1-2 tbsp of premium quality cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil (optional)

A sprig of fresh herbs such as parsley (optional)


  1. Drain water from cannellini beans and rinse.
  2. Save the water from the chickpea BPA free can (aquafaba) and use as much of it as you need to blend to a smooth consistency with all the other ingredients in a good quality blender.
  3. Use most of the aquafaba water if you prefer a runnier hummus. Add as you go along to reach desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning as preferred and garnish with a few herbs such as fresh parsley if you like and a sprinkle of paprika for colour. Refrigerate and enjoy within 3-4 days.

If you make this recipe, tag us @rohinibajekal and @drnitubajekal and use the hashtag #LivingPCOSFree

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Be aware of allergies as the root cause of many problems including fatigue


Blog written by Sarah Myhill, author of Diagnosis and Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Ecological Medicine, and The PK Cookbook

Allergy is the inflammation which results from response to substances (called antigens) from outside the body. Some of these present no threat to the body. Examples include pollen, house dust mites, animal dander and foods. Some antigens do pose a threat in high doses, such as metals (lead, mercury, arsenic, nickel), toxic chemicals (pesticides, solvents) or electromagnetic radiation (wi-fi, mobile phones, cordless phones etc).

Allergy has been known about for centuries. For example, 5-10 per cent of people with asthma are also allergic to sulphites. Pliny the Elder wrote of this when he reported the case of an asthmatic patient (rare for his times) who died from a bronchospasm in 79 AD after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The patient had lived a ‘normal life’ but for this ‘one incident’.

Allergy is the great mimic and can produce almost any symptom. Furthermore, one can be allergic to anything under the sun, including the sun! Allergy is also common – at least 30 per cent of the population are allergic to some foods. However, by the time allergy has produced fatigue (the major focus of my work as a doctor) it has usually caused other problems beforehand. Suspect an allergy problem if any, or a combination, of the following are present:

* The onset of fatigue is pre-dated by, and/or there is a long history of:

* asthma, sinusitis, rhinitis, eczema or urticaria

* irritable bowel syndrome with wind, gas, bloating, abdominal pain, alternating constipation and diarrhoea

* migraine or headaches

* joint (arthritis) and muscle pain

* mood swings, depression, anxiety, PMT

* almost any unexplained, recurring, episodic symptom.

  • Childhood problems – This would include being a sickly child with recurrent ‘infections’, such as tonsillitis (actually probably allergy). Indeed, a colleague who is a consultant paediatrician considers it medical negligence to surgically remove tonsils without first doing a dairy-free diet. Rhinitis, sinusitis, catarrh and colic are typical dairy allergy symptoms.
  • Symptoms change with time – Often the allergen is the same, but the symptom changes through life. Allergy to dairy products typically starts with colic and projectile vomiting as a baby, followed by toddler diarrhoea, catarrh and glue ear, recurrent infections (tonsillitis, croup, middle ear infections) and ‘growing pains’. Teenagers develop headaches, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, PMT and asthma. In adult life, muscle, tendon and joint pain (arthritis). Any of the above may be accompanied by fatigue.
  • There is a positive family history – I have yet to find a patient who is dairy allergic who does not have a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, child) who also has symptoms suggestive of allergy to dairy products. Allergy to gluten grains also runs in families.
  • There is a tendency to go for a particular food – One of the interesting aspects of allergy is that sufferers often crave the very food to which they are allergic. This was illustrated by one patient who told me that when he died he wished to take a cow to heaven with him. It was dairy which was his main problem! If wheat appears with every meal, then allergy to such is likely.
  • There are symptoms of fermenting gut – Microbes from the gut are minuscule and easily spill over into the bloodstream. This is called ‘bacterial translocation’. These bacteria do not cause septicaemia (blood poisoning), but they may cause allergy reactions at distal sites. I suspect many clinical pictures can be explained by this, including irritable bladder, interstitial cystitis, intrinsic asthma, chronic urticaria, chronic venous ulcers, polymyalgia rheumatica and arthritis (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and so on).

How to identify your personal food allergies

I never do tests for food allergy because they are unreliable. False negatives are common – so, for example, many people who are intolerant of gluten will test negative for coeliac disease. Often, when the test is negative, they are told by their doctor that it is safe to eat that food – not so! There are many tests for food allergy on the market, but again I find positive results can be misleading, not least because the patient believes absolutely in the accuracy of tests and ends up avoiding foods unnecessarily or eating foods which are causing them symptoms.

The only reliable way to diagnose food allergy is by an elimination diet. The key is to cut out those foods that one is consuming daily. The reason that reactions may be prolonged or delayed is that daily consumption masks the link between exposure and symptom. Western diets include daily consumption of grains, dairy products and often yeast. If in addition one is eating other foods, such as potato, soya or tomato, or drinking regular tea, coffee or whatever on a daily basis then this too should be excluded. One should stay on this diet for at least one month before reintroducing foods to the diet – this should be done cautiously since reactions can be severe. Dr John Mansfield developed a practical, easy-to-follow elimination diet that is described in his last book, Six Secrets of Successful Weight Loss.

The Stone-Age or Paleo diet is a ‘best guess’ diet and a useful starting place, hence my recommendation of the PK (Paleo-Ketogenic) diet as explained in our book Paleo-Ketogenic: the Why and the How. If it transpires that there are multiple allergies, then these days I do not put people on a more restricted diet – that is because some people get completely stuck on two or three foods and are unable to bring in new foods because of the above severe reactions. Instead, I put in place the interventions I recommend for a general approach to inflammation together with specific desensitisation techniques to switch off allergy (see our book Ecological Medicine).

Increasingly I am finding that one does not have to be perfect to reduce allergy and allergy symptoms. Simply reducing the total load is helpful – attention to the general approach is as important as specific desensitisation. However, the key steps are:

  • The PK diet
  • Extinguishing the inflammatory fire with my Groundhog Chronic regime (see any of our books) including antioxidants, especially vitamin C
  • Identifying possible causes, not forgetting micro-organims in the upper gut that should not be there, and eliminating or avoiding them
  • Detoxing to reduce the factors that cause inflammation
  • Reprogramming the immune system with probiotics, micro-immunotherapy, enzyme potentiated desensitisation (EPD) and neutralisation – all explained in detail in Ecological Medicine.