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

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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.
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Spring-perfect recipes from ‘Eat Well to Age Well’

Spring has officially sprung so what better way to celebrate than by trying out some delicious and healthy recipes perfect for this season? Taken from the recently launched cookbook, ‘Eat Well to Age Well’ by Beverly Jarvis.

King Prawn Noodle Salad Bowl

Serves 2

This is a great fish dish with Oriental flavours. It is easy to prepare and speedy to cook – a tasty and nutritious meal, which looks pretty too.

INGREDIENTS:

1 tbsp sesame seeds

150 g wholegrain noodles

3 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil

250 g shelled raw king prawns

1 rounded tbsp red curry paste

2 tsp runny honey

2 tsp fish sauce (I like Blue Dragon)

1 tbsp light soy sauce

1⁄2 lime, juiced

1 tbsp freshly chopped coriander

1 carrot, shaved into ribbons

2 radishes, sliced

4 baby sweetcorn, sliced thickly

2 spring onions, chopped

 

EQUIPMENT:

You will need a chopping board and knife, a large saucepan with a lid, a large frying pan or wok, a dinner plate, vegetable peeler, citrus juicer, tablespoon, and teaspoon, a small bowl, a wooden spoon and 2 shallow serving bowls.

NUTRITIONAL NOTE:

The prawns make a valuable contribution towards your RDI for protein as well as providing vitamins A, B6 and B12 plus calcium and iodine. Prawns contain quite high levels of cholesterol but a 1996 study, compar- ing a low-cholesterol diet with one that included eating prawns every day, found that the prawn diet increased HDL (‘good choles- terol’) and significantly decreased triglycerides while only slightly increasing LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol). Prawns also have a good balance of essential fatty acids with almost three times more omega-3 fatty acid than omega-6 fatty acids (see page 17). The vegetables contribute fibre and antioxidants.

INTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a clean, hot frying pan, over a medium heat, toast the sesame seeds for about 1 minute, stirring frequently, until golden, then transfer to a plate and set aside.
  2. Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions, normally about 5 minutes. Drain.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok or large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the prawns and stir-fry for a minute or two until pink all over.
  4. Add the curry paste and stir-fry for a minute.
  5. Add the honey and fish sauce, with about 4 tbsp water, and stir and heat for 2 minutes.
  6. In a small bowl, make the dressing by combining the soy sauce, lime juice, remaining oil and coriander.
  7. Combine the drained noodles with the carrot, radishes, sweetcorn and spring onions.
  8. Pour the dressing over the noodle mix and toss everything together.
  9. Serve the noodles, divided between the two bowls, with the prawn curry poured over, and topped with the reserved toasted sesame seeds.

 

Vegetable Risotto With Roast Tomatoes

Serves 2 – 3

Risotto makes a filling and truly delicious main course, which is easy to cook if you use this largely baked-in-the-oven method. It is a great complete meal, with bags of flavour in both the risotto, which is cooked in vegetable stock and the tangy tomatoes. I usually prefer using brown rice for extra fibre and vitamins. However, there are times when a creamy, satisfying risotto just has to be made with arborio rice. You will find it in supermarkets, alongside long-grain rice, sometimes just labelled ‘risotto rice’. However, don’t stress if you can’t find arborio risotto rice; just use long-grain white rice instead. It won’t be exactly like an Italian risotto but it will still taste great, I promise!

INGREDIENTS:     

1 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil 1 medium-size red onion finely chopped 1 stick celery, finely chopped

1 medium-size carrot

sliced 125 g sweet vine tomatoes, quartered, or halved if using cherry tomatoes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper 150 g arborio risotto rice, or long grain rice, rinsed and drained

1 tsp freshly grated root ginger

1 clove garlic, crushed

650 ml hot vegetable stock

3 tbsp white wine, or dry cider, optional, or use water

5 tbsp frozen peas

1 small red or yellow pepper, de-seeded and chopped

EQUIPMENT:

You will need a chopping board and knife and a large frying pan with lid which is both hob- and oven-friendly. (If you are worried about the handle, triple wrap it in tin foil, before transferring the pan to the oven.) Also a teaspoon, tablespoon, wooden spoon, roast- ing tray, measuring jug and cheese grater.

NUTRITIONAL NOTE:

The rice makes a valuable contribution towards your RDI for carbohydrate. The tomatoes and bell pepper add fibre, antioxidant polyphenols and vitamins A and C.

TO SERVE:

50 g vegetarian parmesan cheese, freshly grated. Handful basil leaves, chopped. The oven-roasted tomatoes.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 210°/190°C fan/gas 6.
  2. In a large frying pan, heat 1⁄2 tbsp oil over a medium heat, until shimmering.
  3. Stirring frequently, over a medium heat, fry the onion, celery and carrot for 5-7 minutes, until softened.
  4. Meanwhile, put the tomatoes onto a roasting tray. Drizzle them with the remaining oil, season with salt and pepper, then roast for about 15 minutes.
  5. Stir the rice, ginger and garlic into the pan with the vegetables.
  6. Increase the heat and add 300 ml of the stock, with the wine or water. Stir well and bring to a rapid boil.
  7. Cover with a lid and transfer to the oven, above the tomatoes
  8. Bake for 15 minutes.
  9. Remove the risotto from the oven and transfer it back to the hob.
  10. Gently, stir in the peas and the red or yellow pepper, with the remaining stock.
  11. Cook uncovered, stirring, over a me- dium-high heat, for 5-7 minutes or so, until the rice is al dente and the peas and peppers are just cooked.
  12. Remove from the heat, adjust the sea- soning if necessary, then serve, sprinkled with the basil, and the parmesan cheese, accompanied by the roasted tomatoes.

 

 

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Young people and the importance of healthy eating  

Blog post written by Hanna Purdy, author of ‘Could it be Insulin Resistance?’

Insulin resistance and its corresponding effects, such as obesity, are alarmingly common issues in young people. In addition to excess weight, it is less commonly known and acknowledged that the effects of insulin resistance can also manifest as depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. This is due to the interconnection between the enteric nervous system, a collection of millions of nerve cells lining the gastrointestinal tract, and the central nervous system. This gut-brain axis means that our diet has a substantial influence over our moods. Therefore an unbalanced gut microbiome, hormonal imbalance and chronic inflammation, which are all effects of an unhealthy diet, go hand in hand with insulin resistance and negatively influence our mental as well as physical health. These effects are highly damaging to developing children and young people.

 

What is insulin resistance?

To briefly outline this concept, insulin resistance is where our cells are not responding to the effects of insulin in the way they should. The main cause of this is the overconsumption of sugary and starchy foods, as well as eating too frequently (e.g. snacking throughout the day). As a result, too much insulin is produced in the body, a hormonal problem also known as metabolic syndrome. A diet consisting of an excess of sugar and starch and a lack of integral micronutrients can also have an adverse effect on the good bacteria in our gut, causing abdominal problems such as IBS as well as mental issues such as depression. An excess of insulin and a deficiency of good bacteria can affect other hormones in the body, causing problems such as early puberty, acne and PCOS.

Children and young people are especially vulnerable to the consequences of insulin resistance, and therefore it is vital that parents are educated as to its cause and effects, as well as how to reverse it.

 

Educate your young people on insulin resistance

A common misconception held by both adolescents and adults is that you need to eat less to lose weight. It is important to understand that weight loss does not work that way, and under-eating can only do harm. It is essential for children and young people to eat the necessary nutrients (e.g. proteins, healthy fats) and the right amount of food to fuel their bodies. Excess weight is the result of too much insulin in the body, not too many calories, and exercising more does not solve this problem either. We also need to have an understanding of the micronutrients we get from our food, and why they are needed.

Education is one of the most important things if you want to bring about a lifestyle change, as cutting out sugar and starchy carbohydrates may be challenging. Educating your children and young people is very advantageous, as building an understanding of the topic of insulin resistance and healthy eating could motivate them to opt for healthier foods themselves. The WHY is very important. Simply making them eat more healthily “just because” will not help create long-term changes.

 

Learn to cook a wide variety of tasty and healthy meals

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about healthy meals is salad. It might be worth reminding young people that healthy meals can actually be delicious and tastier than fast food when cooked right. You can eat all your favourite foods if you just make them yourself, from good ingredients. A fun way to get creative is to make alternatives to your favourite junk foods and desserts. There are many websites online that provide delicious recipes for you to follow and tweak to your liking (and there are some in my book Could it be Insulin Resistance? also). Personally, I find that the healthier alternatives taste better and they make you feel great. Here’s an example recipe from my book:

Chilli con carne

For 4 people

Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped, or grated
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1-2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • sour cream
  • grated cheddar cheese for serving

Method:

  1. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a pan
  2. Add the mince and cook until it is brown
  3. When the meat is nearly cooked, add the onion and peppers and continue cooking for another 5 minutes
  4. Add the garlic, tomatoes, tomato purée and all the spices, including salt and pepper, according to your taste
  5. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Serve with grated cheese and a spoonful of sour cream on top as well as a green salad

 

Replace fizzy drinks with water, kombucha and herbal tea

Soft drinks such as Coke or Pepsi can be very addictive. Kombucha is a great alternative. Not only is it pleasing for the taste buds, but it also provides probiotics, which are essential for gut health. If you can’t obtain kombucha, then herbal tea with some honey should suffice.

Now, if you think that replacing sodas with diet sodas is better, you have been misinformed. There are many articles on the Internet that provide valuable insight on the subject, but in short, diet sodas are very harmful to the body, containing artificial sweeteners as they do. Don’t forget, fresh water is always the best alternative for hydration.

 

Please read my book,Could it be Insulin Resistance?’, for more information on this topic.

 

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A sneak preview from upcoming release ‘Green Mother’

We have something a little different but equally as visually stimulating for you on our blog. A sneak preview of some beautiful illustrations from upcoming release ‘Green Mother’ by Dr Sarah Myhill and Michelle McCullagh with Craig Robinson. Launching later this year.

A family watering the garden
A mother breastfeeding
Children splashing in a puddle
A child splashing
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Vegan recipes for National Picnic Week

Photo credits – Andy Smart (@smartsnappers)

As National Picnic Week starts on Monday 21st June, what better way to celebrate than by trying out these four delicious vegan recipes, perfect for any picnic in the sunshine! Taken from our upcoming release ‘Feeding Your Vegan Child’ by Sandra Hood, available for pre-order now, launches 29th June.

 

Vegan sausage rolls (makes 8 sausages, 4 servings)

There are many shop-bought vegan sausage rolls now available but home-made sausages are worth the trouble and are very quick and easy to make.

For the sausages:

  • water or oil for cooking
  • 100g mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove (optional)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 50g oats
  • 400g tin of beans of choice
  • 40g of ground almonds (or nut of choice)
  • seasoning to taste
  • oil for frying

For the pastry:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 100g margarine
  • 5 tbsps very cold water

Method:

  • Heat a little water (or oil) in a pan, add the onions and garlic and cook until soft
  • Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes
  • Stir in the oats and add the paprika and cook for a few minutes more
  • In a separate bowl mash the beans (or blitz in a blender), add all the other ingredients and form into sausages
  • Fry in a little oil, *or baste with oil and bake in a hot over for 20 minutes, turning half way through
  • Rub the margarine into the flour to form fine breadcrumbs
  • Sprinkle on the water and gently knead until it starts to form a soft but firm mixture
  • Roll out into an oblong and on one side of the pastry lay the sausages
  • Fold over the pastry and seal the edges with water. Cut into sausage rolls. Brush with plant milk and cook for 20-30 minutes at 200o C/400o F/gas mark 6

 

Nori rolls (GF) (4 servings)

Ideal for parties and picnics. Instead of the filling in the recipe, you can use other popular fillings such as tofu and avocado, beans and sweet potatoes, sweetcorn and nuts.

  • 4 large sheets dried nori
  • 50g rice
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 3 tbsps peas
  • 1 spring onion, chopped
  • 50g grated soya cheese

 

Method:

  • Cook the rice in boiling water but 5 minutes before it is going to be ready, add the diced carrot and cook for 5 minutes
  • Add the peas and onion and bring to the boil, then drain off any remaining water
  • Remove from the heat and add the grated cheese. Allow to cool
  • Spread it onto the sheets of nori, moisten the edges with water and roll up. Cut each roll into four pieces

 

Chocolate brownies (makes 16)

No picnic is complete without some delicious chocolate brownies!

  • 225 g dates
  • 60 g wholemeal flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 100g margarine
  • 1 very ripe banana, mashed
  • 75 g nuts (optional) of choice e.g. pecans or walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Method:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 180o C/350o F/Gas 4
  • Place the dates in a medium saucepan with just enough water to cover them
  • Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes or until soft, then drain off the water, run them under a cold tap to cool and purée the dates
  • Cream together the dates and margarine until light and fluffy
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder into the date mixture
  • Add the banana, nuts (optional) and vanilla essence
  • Pour into a lightly oiled tin (18 x 25 cm), spread evenly and bake in the oven for approximately 20-25 minutes or until the brownies start to come away from the sides of the dish
  • Allow to cool, then cut and serve

 

Scones (makes 20)

Finally, some classic scones to complete your picnic spread! Try them with coconut cream and jam for a delicious fruity number.

  • 450g self-raising flour
  • 100g margarine
  • 25g sugar (or replace with dried fruit)
  • 235ml water
  • pinch salt

 

Method:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 450o F/230o C/gas mark 8
  • Grease a large baking sheet with vegetable oil
  • Sift the flour and rub in the margarine until fine breadcrumbs are formed
  • Stir in the sugar or dried fruit
  • Add enough water to make a soft dough
  • Knead gently and roll out until about 1 cm/½ inch thickness
  • Cut into 20 rounds, brush with plant milk and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes

 

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How I came to write ‘Feeding Your Vegan Child’

Blog post written by Sandra Hood, author of ‘Feeding Your Vegan Child’. Available for pre-order now, launches 29th June.

 

When I first became vegan I was bombarded by friends and family who were really worried that I would become ill!  But this was back in the 1970’s.  There were no vegetarian, let alone vegan, ready meals available then. Meat and two veg was the norm with the Dairy Council diary being found in most households and adverts for the daily pinta and ‘go to work on an egg’ rife!!   I remember making cheese with the only vegan margarine available – melting it and stirring in soya flour and yeast extract and waiting for it to go hard – it was surprisingly tasty!

I joined the Vegan Society and as a member I received a small A5 magazine every month full of tips and recipes.  I loved the holistic approach, providing information on diet, animals and the environment.  It included a contact list so one could link up with other like-minded people – there were very few vegans back in the 1970’s!  Fortunately, there was a local vegan group near where I lived and my younger sister, who had been vegetarian since a child, and I went along.  I remember food was the main focus, with cakes and dishes being shared with great enthusiasm!  Those groups were so important back then to be able to spend time with others.

What’s cooking?

It was at the local meetings I met the wonderful Eva Batt.  I was so lucky to have a ‘celebrity’ living near me!  Eva wrote the first vegan cook book – ‘What’s Cooking’.  Eva inspired me to cook wonderful vegan dishes – back then everything had to be cooked from scratch, no ready meals then!  Her dishes were nutritious, colourful and tasty.   I still use Eva’s recipes to this day.

The first plant milk in the UK

As a member of the Vegan Society I was invited to attend the Vegan Society AGMs.  Back then, as the membership was so small, the AGM’s were held in the garden of Kathleen Jannaway, secretary of the Vegan Society. It was there where I met the late Arthur Ling.  There were no milk alternatives in the UK in the 1960’s and Arthur and a small group of other vegans tried unsuccessfully to get non-dairy milks imported into the UK.  Failing to achieve this they decided to produce their own and in 1964 Plamil was produced.  Check out the Plamil website to find out more about its fascinating history.  The company went on to produce other vegan products and is still going strong.  Arthur’s son Adrian, vegan from birth, runs the company and is known as the vegan Willy Wonka.

Children’s case histories

I worked with Arthur for a number of years. Whilst working at Plamil I was able to indulge in its other vegan products including peas pudding, rice pudding and delicious chocolates.  The soya milk came in tins and later moved to tetrapaks.  It came concentrated and you diluted it yourself with water.  The thought was that it was practical, not having to carry the extra weight of water, and also saved on packaging.  Wouldn’t it be great if this was the case today?  More environmentally friendly and really practical!! Arthur was way ahead of his time.

Arthur was so passionate about appropriate nutrition for children and adults.  He meticulously kept records of children whose parents were raising them on vegan diets and I was involved in researching these case histories.  I was fascinated by the simple whole foods that the parents were giving their children and how they thrived.  Plamil Foods produced 4 copies of these case histories over the years, with the first one produced in 1973 and the last one in 2000.

I wanted to learn more and I decided to study nutrition.  I also wanted to find out for sure whether a vegan diet was ‘safe’ and be able to answer the ongoing criticisms from friends and family, the majority without any nutrition knowledge, who said that the vegan diet wasn’t ‘natural’ and was inferior to an omnivorous diet.

Becoming a dietitian

University was tough and I was known as ‘the vegan’.  However, I thrived and decided to do the extra year’s study to qualify as a dietitian.  After qualification I was fortunate to secure a full-time post as a community dietitian.  I kept in close contact with the Vegan Society who welcomed my knowledge and asked me to become their gratis dietitian.  As such as I provided a nutrition page, answered questions and was generally available for any nutrition queries.

My first book

The Vegan Society was regularly being contacted by parents and health professionals alike asking nutrition questions about raising vegan children.  I suggested to the Vegan Society that we produced a book to support parents and health professions and in 2004 I wrote ‘Feeding your vegan infant – with confidence’.  The idea was to produce a complete guide from preconception through to infancy to reassure parents and health professionals alike that it was possible to raise children happily and healthily on a vegan diet.

Today

Over the last couple of years there has been such a growth in plant-based eating.  Vegan diets are now something to aspire to.  Evidence is clear that raising children on plant-based diets not only meets nutritional requirements but indeed can benefit health.  In addition, it is the way forward for the planet.  As my book was still the only UK version on raising vegan children, I thought this was the perfect time for an update.  I wanted it to remain a practical but readable book to assist both vegan parents and health professionals. I am really hoping my book will do this.

 

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A Low-Carb Christmas

Blog post written by Hanna Purdy, author of Could it be Insulin Resistance?

As you know, 2020 has been a very challenging and eye-opening year for most of us. This year has made many of us realise how important maintaining a healthy lifestyle is in keeping us physically and mentally healthy and our immune functions strong. However, staying consistent with a healthy diet during the holiday season is, of course, a challenge. This is because most people believe that keeping healthy during Christmas means that they’re missing out on the festivity, as food contributes largely to what makes us feel “Christmassy”. It may be tempting to put your diet plan on hold and enjoy different desserts and beverages, but it’s important to know that neglecting this lifestyle for the entirety of the holiday season could make you easily relapse into unhealthy habits, making it very hard to return to the consistency maintained before.

The thought of eating healthier in the holiday season probably makes most people feel disappointed, as many believe that eating healthy is no fun at all, and a definite no during a celebratory season. However, this is not the case. Healthy eating can, indeed, be Christmassy too, contrary to the popular belief that sugary, high carb foods are essential in the “Christmas spirit”. It is important to detach yourself from this mainstream belief, as it simply isn’t true.

My family and I plan our menu for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day well in advance. We cook and bake everything ourselves, which is, for us, a central part of Christmas as it is so enjoyable and really sets in the mood. One of the biggest differences between unhealthy and healthy foods specifically on Christmas (in my experience) is the impact they have on the way I feel both mentally and physically. Eating healthier makes me feel fresh, energetic and happy, whereas eating high carb, sugary foods has the opposite effect. This is how many people stick to a healthier diet and integrate it into their lifestyle, especially during Christmas, because they notice the impact it has and how much more enjoyable it makes Christmas feel.

Staying healthy is now more important than ever. If you are following a low carbohydrate diet in order to reverse insulin resistance, know that just because it means you need to stay healthy over the holiday season, doesn’t mean it will not be “Christmassy”. You may notice that food tastes better when there are no excess carbohydrates and sugar and, like I mentioned before, will leave you feeling great.

I have come up with a few recipes for you to try over Christmas. The side dishes below complement turkey or any other main course you choose to have. I have also come up with sweeter recipes with no added sugar. Of course, all recipes are perfectly suitable for those suffering with insulin resistance.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

Appetisers

Prawn salad

For 6

  • 250g prawns
  • 400g crème fraiche
  • 1 red pepper, finely cut
  • 1 boiled egg, finely cut
  • 1-2 tbsp mustard
  • juice of 1 lime
  • pepper
  • fresh dill

Mix the crème fraiche, egg, pepper, mustard, pepper and lime juice in a bowl, add the prawns and chopped dill.

 

Smoked salmon appetisers

For 6

  • 200g smoked salmon, cut into bite size pieces
  • 250 cream cheese
  • 50g sour cream or crème fraiche
  • handful of chopped fresh dill
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • salt
  • pepper
  • iceberg lettuce for serving

Mix all the ingredients apart from the lettuce in a bowl. Serve on a small lettuce leaf.

Chicken liver pâté

For 6

  • 400g chicken livers
  • 2 tbsp Brandy
  • 300g unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 small shallots, finely chopped
  • 0.5 tsp dried thyme
  • 0,5 tsp grated nutmeg
  • salt
  • pepper

Gently cook the shallots and grated garlic in a pan with about 30-40g of the butter, until lightly soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the livers and cook for a further 4-5 minutes, until the livers are slightly brown on the outside. Add the Brandy and stir, then add the remaining butter and the thyme and nutmeg. Place then into the bowl of the food processor and pulse until smooth. Alternatively you can use a blender. Season with salt and pepper. Place into servicing bowl or a terrine dish. If you like, you can top this with 50g of melted butter or clarified butter(ghee). Cover with cling film and place into the fridge for at least 3 hours before serving.

Pickled onions

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 100g cranberries (or lingonberries if available)
  • 100ml apple cider vinegar
  • 100ml water
  • pinch of salt

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and leave to marinate in the fridge for 1-2 days.

 

Side Dishes

Brussel sprouts

For 6

  • 500g Brussel sprouts, trimmed and the outer leaves removed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, chopped
  • few leaves of fresh sage, chopped
  • olive oil
  • knob of butter

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a pan and cook the bacon until golden, add the onion and sage, turn the heat down and cook for 5-10 minutes until the onion is soft. Place the  Brussel sprouts in a sauce pan with boiling water, boil for 5 minutes until just tender. Drain and then add to the bacon and onion mixture. Add a knob of butter and season.

 

Steamed red cabbage

  • 500g red cabbage
  • 2 tbsp butter or goose fat
  • 1 cooking apple
  • 500ml apple juice
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Cut the cabbage into think slices. Melt the fat in a large skillet or sauce pan, add the cabbage, chopped apple and the liquids. Bring to boil and simmer on low heat under a lid for 1-2 hours until the liquid has evaporated

Roasted swede wedges

  • 0.5-1 swede
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • dried rosemary
  • dried thyme
  • paprika

Peel and trim the swede and cut into bite size wedges or cubes. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the wedges evenly onto an oven pan lined with baking paper. Drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes until tender and golden brown. Season well.

 

Roasted butternut squash

For 6

  • 2 small or 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into bite size chunks
  • 1 red onion, cut into wedges
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • handful of fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, place the vegetables into an oven pan lined with baking paper. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and tender. Mix together the mustard, vinegar and 1 tbsp olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over the squash. Garnish with chopped parsley.

 

Red cabbage salad

For 6

  • 500g red cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 1 apple, cut into small cubes
  • 5 tbsp lingonberries or cranberries
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • sprinkle of ground clove

Mix the cabbage and apple. In a separate bowl mix together the berries, vinegar and olive oil. Season and add to the cabbage. Mix well, keep in the fridge for 2 days before serving. This will keep fresh in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.

 

Desserts

Christmas chocolates

  • 100 ml cacao butter, usually available in health shops
  • 3 tbsp creamed coconut
  • 100 ml cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or a pinch of stevia according to your taste
  • vanilla according to taste
  • pinch of salt
  • 50g chopped almonds
  • 10g dried berries of your choice
  • small handful of other nuts if you like

Very carefully melt the cacao butter and creamed coconut in a sauce pan, avoid the mixture from getting too hot. Cool down, add the cocoa powder through a sieve, add the vanilla and some salt, mixing well. Mix in any berries or nuts, pour the mixture over a baking sheet and let it set in room temperature for 2-3 hours. Then cut or break into smaller pieces. Alternatively you can pour the warm mixture into chocolate moulds and cool in the fridge for an hour.

Chocolate truffles

  • 300ml coconut cream
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 200g dark chocolate (over 70% cocoa)
  • vanilla extract
  • cinnamon
  • cocoa powder
  • shredded coconut

Warm the coconut cream carefully in a small saucepan . In another pan, carefully melt the chocolate and coconut oil. Add the warm coconut cream. Add vanilla and mix carefully. Let the mixture cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. Once set, have small amounts of cinnamon, cocoa powder and shredded coconut ready on a plate, either mixed or in separate small piles. Then take small spoonfuls of the chocolate mixture or if difficult, form small balls with your hands, and roll them in the cinnamon, cocoa powder and/or shredded coconut and then place on the serving dish. You can also use ground nuts or ground dried berries to make different kinds of truffles.

Spicy ginger cake

  • 4 egg whites
  • 4 egg yolks
  • stevia
  • 200ml double cream
  • 150g butter
  • 150ml ground almonds
  • 150ml coconut flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground all spice
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Melt the butter, and let it cool. In a separate bowl, mix all the dried ingredients. In another bowl whisk the egg whites and cream. Add the cooled butter and the yolks. Then add the dried ingredients carefully. Pour the mixture into a greased cake tin and bake in a pre-heated oven, in 170 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve with clotted cream.

 

Frozen berry dessert

For 4

  • 400ml any frozen berries; red currants, black currants, blueberries and/or raspberries
  • 3 leaves of gelatine
  • 1 drop vanilla extract
  • 400ml double cream
  • dark chocolate for decoration

Place the gelatine leaves into a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes until they are soft.  Place the berries into a small saucepan and gently heat for 10 minutes. Use a blender to make them into a berry sauce. Add the soft gelatine and vanilla. Whip the cream and then carefully mix into the berries. Divide between 4 dessert bowls and put into the fridge to set. They will be ready in 2 hours. Serve with some whipped cream and decorated with a piece of dark chocolate.

Chocolate mousse

For 4-5

  • 200g good quality dark chocolate (real chocolate so cacao butter, NO vegetable fats)
  • 500 ml double cream
  • 2 eggs

Carefully melt the chocolate and let it cool. Add the eggs, mix well. Then add the cream and mix until well combined. Divide between 4-5 dessert bowls and let it set in a fridge for 1-2 hours.

 

Drinks

Mulled apple drink

For 6-8

  • 1l apple juice
  • 3 star aniseeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Put the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to boil.  Turn off the heat, cover the saucepan with a lid and leave for 1-2 hours. Remove the start aniseeds and cinnamon stick and re-heat the drink. Serve warm.

 

Mulled wine

For 4-6

  • bottle of red or white wine
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • pinch of bitter orange peel (if available)
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 star aniseed
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat the ingredients in a sauce pan, on a low to medium heat, for 5-10 minutes. Avoid bringing to a boil. You can add a little honey or maple syrup if you prefer to bring in more sweetness.

 

Good life and good food!

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Eating to Protect Your Health and Your Arthritic Joints

Fruit and Vegetables

Eating healthily is more important than ever at a time like this. Notwithstanding the problems with finding food available in the supermarkets, there are still regular deliveries of all foods to the stores.  As explained in One Step Ahead of Osteoarthritis, The Mediterranean diet is recommended for both osteoarthritis and general health and well-being.   In addition to fruit and veg, this plant-based diet also comprises pulses, beans, nuts and fish,  chicken and turkey, and the all important olive oil – best drizzled over vegetables or salad.

Supplements boost the immune system

There are several supplements that can be helpful for osteoarthritis, and which boost the immune system at a time when you need all the defences you can muster.

  • Vitamin C is reputed to fight viruses, and has been proven to be effective in reducing inflammation in osteoarthritis and impeding its progress[1] Taking high amounts (such as 1,000mg or more) of Vitamin C cannot harm you as excess is excreted out of the body, although some people find it upsets the stomach.
  • Turmeric too has a good reputation for easing inflammation in osteoarthritis and is often taken as a spice, as a liquid, or in capsules. What is lesser known is that it has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties as well.
  • Vitamin D is made in the body when your bare skin is exposed to the sun a lot, but in reality after a British winter it’s likely to be low. Dr Andrea Darling and Professor Susan Lanham-New, the University of Surrey, claim, ‘Vitamin D can help prevent respiratory tract infections[2] so it is important to have good Vitamin D levels during the COVID-19 pandemic.’

Dr Rod Hughes, rheumatologist at St Peter’s Hospital, Surrey,  is convinced of the importance of Vitamin D for those with osteoarthritis, ‘About 50 per cent of the population is deficient in Vitamin D, due to lack of exposure to the sun. Deficiency can mimic arthritis providing the same symptoms. It’s very easy to take a blood test and treatment is simple with capsules or injections, and the patient gets better very quickly.’

Cider vinegar

Although not the most tasty of drinks, taking a dessertspoonful of (apple) cider vinegar in water every day is helpful for easing osteoarthritis, and it also is full of beneficial bacteria and minerals.  It’s important to buy Cider Vinegar with the Mother, which means it is not pasteurised and retains all its health benefits.

While it seems counter-intuitive to have an acidic drink, the body metabolises cider vinegar so that it turns alkaline. However, it does taste acidic so if you find it unpalatable add a teaspoonful of honey, another healthy food.

So do eat healthily and exercise regularly all the time, but particularly during this difficult period in all of our lives.  Stay home if you can and stay safe.

Blog post written by Frances Ive, author of One Step Ahead of Osteoarthritis.

[1] Chiu PR, Hu YC, Huang TC, Hsieh BS, Yeh JP, Cheng HL, Huang LW, Chang KL.

Vitamin C Protects Chondrocytes against Monosodium Iodoacetate-Induced Osteoarthritis by Multiple Pathways. Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Dec 27;18(1). pii: E38. doi: 10.3390/ijms18010038.

[2] Martineau et al (2017)

Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data.   Br Med J 2017; 356 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i6583 (Published 15 February 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:i6583

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Artemesia annua and the Treatment of Viruses

Artemesia annua

The outbreak of COVID-19 has advanced through the human population at an accelerated rate with devasting effects not only on our health, but by bringing fear and uncertainty in its wake.

Originating in China, it has now spread worldwide, and whole regions have been locked down in order to try to contain the advancement of this virus.

Any scientific research data on the effects of  therapeutic strategies is scarce at this time, but the FDA in the US have recently approved the use of some existing drugs in the battle to contain and treat this virus, including the anti-malarial drug, hydroxychloroquine, which is showing encouraging results.

In my book,  Irritable Bowel Syndrome & Giardia, I explain how to use Artemesia annua (Sweet Wormwood) which is widely used to treat malaria, but is also very effective in treating Giardia, a parasite which can cause very debilitating bowel and digestive disturbances.   Artemisinin, the active principle of Artemesia annua, has been shown to have anti-viral properties.

Therefore, it would be well worth considering taking Artemesia annua as detailed in the book, Irritable Bowel Syndrome & Giardia, for the treatment of viruses. I have also created, as another part of my treatment strategy for viral infections, Optimal Support #1, a holistic herbal spray that offers energetic support to the mind and body. Both myself and my clients have found it very useful. This is fast becoming a best seller for Herbal Energetix. Due to the high demand, please sign up to our newsletter where details of how to obtain these products will be shown shortly.

I would also recommend the vegetable juice recipe, featured in the book, is taken daily to boost the immune system, together with three organic oranges or one grapefruit to help boost the vitamin C intake

For more information and copies of Susan Koten’s book and sprays, please  go here or visit our online shop at www.herbalenergetix.co.uk

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How to Boost Your Body’s Ability to Heal Itself

Coconut

We have all had too struggle with recovery from an injury, surgery or an infection at some time in our lives. To do so requires extra energy and the best raw materials, and these raw materials – along with the microbe-fighting properties of many plant components – need to come from what we eat and drink.

The following excerpts come from Recovery from Injury, Surgery and Infection, the latest book in the Nature Cures series from Nat Hawes.

Coconut (Cocos nucifera)

Coconut, in all its forms (flesh, oil and water), can eliminate infectious illnesses including those caused by viruses due to its components capric acid, caprylic acid and lauric acid.

Breast-feeding mothers who consume pure virgin coconut oil have high levels of these healthy fatty acids in their milk, which is of great benefit to the infant because it protects them from infections and toxins.

Lauric acid

Lauric acid is a type of medium-chain fatty acid found in only a handful of foods but especially in coconut; it is converted into monolaurin, in the body, which has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.

Lauric acid is useful for treating viral infections, including colds (caused by a coronavirus) and influenza, cold sores and other herpes infections.

In addition to coconut, which is by far the richest source, sources include cow’s milk, curry leaf, goat’s milk and palm kernel oil

Capric acid

Capric acid, together with lauric acid and caprylic acid, helps to increase levels of ‘good’ high-density lipoproteins (HDL cholesterol) relative to ‘bad’ low-density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol).

Capric acid is also very useful for treating viral infections.

Additional sources include: aubergine; cow’s milk (full cream); goat’s milk (full cream) and palm kernel oil.

Caprylic acid

Caprylic acid can help counter many types of infection.

Research has revealed that it can activate a hormone called ghrelin, which in turn stimulates the hunger centre in the brain and increases appetite. This may prove to be particularly useful for patients with poor appetites following illness.

Because of its unique chemical structure, caprylic acid is able to seep through the outside shell of the mitochondria (the energy-making micro-structures in all our cells) where it can then be broken down to release energy. In this way, overall energy levels are increased, which helps aid recovery.

Consuming natural foods containing caprylic acid may also curb a deficiency in vitamin A. Sources other than coconut include cow’s milk, goat’s milk, palm oil and pomegranate seed oil.

You can find out more about Nat Hawes book here, or follow Nature Cures on Twitter or Facebook