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When I first began studying nutrition in 2009 there was pretty much no mention of gut health. I took the deep dive into nutrition to try and help my own health and in particular my mental health.

 

Since then a lot has changed and most of us now know that to maintain good health, the gut must properly absorb nutrients and eliminate waste and toxins on a daily basis. So, it’s not so much what you eat but rather what you absorb that counts. A few years ago, most of us didn’t even know what the word microbiome meant.

 

The microbiome is the genetic material of all the microbes – bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses – that live on and inside the human body. What we are interested though for this article is the gut microbiome.

The Real Control Center

Just think of where your gut is located – the center of your body – and this is also the hub or headquarters where your immunity, brain function, metabolism and weight are controlled from. Roughly 70% of our immune cells and more than 90% of your serotonin (which is your “feel good” or “happy” hormone) is stored in your gut as well.

So who do we want operating our headquarters?

Well the good guys of course! There are more bacteria in your digestive system than there are cells in your body approx. 4Lbs! This 4Lb strong community if left un-policed will go rouge and the bad guys will start to take over. These are the bad gut bacteria that cause various digestive health issues alongside contributing to a wide variety of other dis-eases’ within your body and mind. Repopulating with good bacteria (probiotics) is a vital way to keep inflammation under control. I have teamed up with www.precisionbiotics.com for this article, who make Alforex and Zenflore to help ensure a healthy gut whether stressed, recovering from illness or trying to cope with common problems like IBS Irritable bowel syndrome.

 

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, especially your digestive system.

 

First Lets Take A look At What harms Our Gut

Our modern lifestyle certainly has a lot to answer for including

 

  • A Bad Diet/Fast Food/Processed Food

 

  • Stress – The busyness epidemic

 

  • Hormone Problems

 

  • Medications

 

  • Alcohol

 

  • Autoimmune problems caused by Leaky Gut

 

Some Symptoms of Imbalance

  • Skin issues: Acne, Eczema, Psoriasis, Rashes

 

  • Food allergies/sensitivities

 

  • Sleep problems

 

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

 

  • Leaky Gut Syndrome

 

  • Chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia

 

  • Mental fogginess

 

  • Depression

 

  • Mood changes

 

  • Autoimmune Diseases (lupus, MS, arthritis, etc.)

 

  • Food cravings

 

  • Bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea

 

  • Cramping after meals

 

So What Can We Do?

We need to ensure we hire the best to work in our headquarters. These generals include fermented foods which provide probiotics, vitamins and enzymes that help keep your digestive system healthy and free of illness and disease and drink like Kefir and Kombucha are great.

Kefir is a cultured/ fermented drink that you can make in both Milk and water varieties. Kombucha is fermented tea, both have been shown to be beneficial for the gut to promote good gut health with their bacteria strains.

LOTS OF FRESH WHOLEFOODS, FRUIT AND VEGETABLES INCREASE ESSENTIAL FIBRE TO HELP KEEP THE DIGESTIVE OPERATION WORKING WELL

Dan Gold

FRESH FOOD, HEALTH, GUT HEALTH, DIGESTION

You can also eat miso soup, sauerkraut and Kimchi. In countries like Korea and Japan they have fermented foods with every meal.  Tempeh (fermented tofu cake), Tofu (which is sometimes fermented), Naturally fermented soy sauce, apple cider vinegar and coconut yogurt are also great to add into your daily diet.

 

Choosing A Supplement

Sometimes though food is not enough. With modern life causing us to feel stressed and become ill at times calling in extra reinforcements in the form of a supplement can be necessary.

 

I was recently quite ill back in August and had to take antibiotics for a couple of weeks. Being acutely aware that most of my good bacteria were now pretty much wiped out, I knew I needed to repopulate. I was also quite stressed and feeling low so I was looking for a supplement to directly help with the gut/brain connection. I took Zenflore initially for a month and I am currently taking Alforex now to help deal with other digestive issues.

 

Zenflore is a food supplement developed to help tackle Ireland’s stress epidemic. Created by a group of scientists at Precision Biotics, based in Cork, it has been clinically proven to reduce stress. The new treatment was developed after scientists identified a key component in the gut-brain axis , showing that what happens in the stomach can have a direct effect on the human brain. The special 1714-Serenitas™ culture in Zenflore has been clinically studied in people with everyday stress. PrecisionBiotics have developed a unique formulation with this natural culture and specially selected B vitamins, to help support mind and body, and reduces fatigue.

 

1714-Serenitas was discovered and developed by PrecisionBiotics®, in partnership with scientists and clinicians from one of the world’s leading centers of research on the microbiome and the gut-brain axis. This unique culture is part of the Bifidobacteria family of bacteria given by mother to baby at birth. It’s a friendly bacteria, that is naturally at home in the human gut and has evolved with us over generations.

 

Does It Reach The Gut Intact?

This is one of the most common questions people ask. Zenflore’s special formulation is stable at room temperature and does not need to be refrigerated and this ensures that this natural culture reaches your gut with its properties intact.

When I first began studying nutrition in 2009 there was pretty much no mention of gut health. I took the deep dive into nutrition to try and help my own health and in particular my mental health.

Zenflore is available in pharmacies and health food shops nationwide for €32.95 for a month supply.

 

Alforex

Another supplement that PrecisionBiotics manufacture is Alflorex, which is a gut health-boosting probiotic supplement  that has been shown to help with IBS. First discovered in Cork, this culture has been demonstrated to be safe and effective in several published studies in patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS); which is a condition estimated to affect between 10 – 15% of Irish adults. Females are twice as likely to be affected as males.

 

IBS is a complex and debilitating condition for which there is no known cause. However, many doctors now agree that symptoms can be triggered by psychological as well as physical factors. Conventional management of IBS is often suboptimal often addressing only one of the several symptoms that comprise the syndrome.

 

In studies in IBS patients, B. infantis 35624 has been shown to improve all of the cardinal symptoms of the condition. This is one of the few probiotic products which has been truly developed on a scientific basis and tested in high quality clinical studies.

 

Containing its 35624 culture, it’s been clinically tested in people with bloating and gas, abdominal pain and unpredictable bowel movements. Improvements can be seen in as little as four weeks and those who suffer from non-IBS bloating could also reap rewards too.

“IBS affects 20,000 people in Ireland.”

It was awarded Best Gastrointestinal Product at the Irish Pharmacy News Awards 2016 and 2017

 

Alflorex is available over the counter from pharmacies nationwide at €32.95 for one month’s supply of the daily capsule.

Conclusion

When it comes to good health its now more important than ever to look at gut health. If science and studies now show us that our gut is the headquarters we need to go straight there and work from the top down.

By changing different aspects of how you live, you and your gut can become lifelong friends. If you treat your gut well then it will repay you with great health, energy and vitality for life.

Start your day with a deep inhalation and set an intention to nourish yourself with great food, kind words, fresh air, exercise and great people. That’s the key to a more fulfilled life and your will also thank you.

 

Further reading:

https://www.precisionbiotics.com/ie/what-is-zenflore

https://www.precisionbiotics.com/ie/natural

https://www.precisionbiotics.com/ie/psychobiotics

A growing chorus of doctors and researchers warns that electromagnetic fields from many of the hallmarks of modern life have been linked to a wide variety of health risks ranging from sleeplessness to cancer.

old cell phone, alison canavan, emf dangers

 

Wireless technology has forever changed how we communicate with our family and the world but is it coming at a cost and what can we do to reduce the harm to our self and our families ?

 

Up till 1984 wireless technology was only used in the military. Now in the US there are 4.7billion devices in use. Cell phones came to the market without any safety testing at all. When we evolved on the planet there was trace amounts if any of microwave radiation. Our bodies didn’t evolve with it and we have no protection against it. It’s an invisible but very real environmental pollutant.

WHAT IS EMF?

EMF or electromagnetic fields, are invisible forms of energy often referred to as radiation. They are associated with the use of electrical power and various technologies including wireless devices. As human beings we are electrical in nature and we are made of the same stuff as everything else: we are made of atoms. Atoms are made of electrons which are negatively charged and protons which are positively charged. We react to electromagnetic fields so it’s not surprising we react to these things.

 

IS IT COSTING US?

Most people are able to tolerate lower energy fields like AM/FM radio but increased exposure to the amount we are exposed to over time can be dangerous. As a society we are very fond of things that make life easier or more enjoyable. This can cause us to ignore potential health effects. The research in this space is new but compelling. In general its showing us that high artificial EMFs have been shown to disturb the human body’s natural energetic field, leading to stress and fatigue as well as DNA changes and degenerative diseases like cancer.

So what can we do?

EMF

  1. TAKE YOUR PHONE OUT OF YOUR BEDROOM AT NIGHT: Buy an old school alarm clock and remove the phone from your bedroom. This will lead to better sleep and give you a break from your device.

 

  1. WIND DOWN: Many of us expect to be able to look at our phones and screens, go to bed and drop off instantly – this is unrealistic for the majority of us! To reduce the amount of mental and emotional stimulation before bed have a no tech 60-90 rule. The blue-light that comes out of these devices can inhibit the sleep hormone melatonin from being produced which we need to drop into a deep restorative sleep.

 

  1. 1ST HOUR PHONE FREE: Don’t sabotage your day before it begins by looking through your phone first thing. Studies show us that doing this as soon as we wake can trigger stress and anxiety. Instead have a phone free hour for the first hour of each day. Studies show that just this small habit change helps us to be less reactive at work and with our loved ones too. Should we not be eating, showering and dressing for the first hour anyway?

 

  1. TURN OFF YOUR WI-FI AT NIGHT IN YOUR HOME: Turning off your wi-fi at night helps to give your mind and body a break from the 24/7 exposure.

 

  1. PROTECT YOURSELF: A website called safespaceprotection.com offers a wide range of products that can help to reduce EMF using adaptors and other devices that offers an all-in-one solution for clearing and protecting an entire home, school ,phones or office space from the harmful effects of EMF radiation.

 

  1. Talk to your child’s school and make sure the wi-fi levels are safe. In France and Russia they have reduced new legislation to ban wi-fi from preschool, Montessori’s and primary school. The level our children are being exposed to is simply not safe and we must wake up to this sooner rather than later. Watch GENERATION ZAPPED to see why we are playing Russian roulette with our children’s lives.

 

  1. Minimize your talk time, use earphones (not blue tooth or wireless headphones) or speaker function and try to eliminate any calls over 20 minutes. Scientists have no idea how long you can safely talk on a cell phone. And side effects such as headaches and dizziness have been observed after calls as short as two minutes. Another safety tip: Switch which side of the head you use your phone on from call to call so you spread out exposure.

8. Use antioxidant supplements to minimize radiation and other free radical stress. Chlorella, high quality algae, wheatgrass and green food supplements can be helpful in protecting against radiation and reducing brain, body and adrenal stress.

9. “Small sustainable changes will eventually add up to huge results” Alison Canavan

  1. TAKE A SEA SALT AND SODA BATH: The Sea Salt and Soda bath is one of the most effective baths for detoxifying the body from chemicals and countering the effects of radiation. Use one pound of baking soda and one pound of sea salt in the bath and soak for 20-25 mins. Drink plenty of filtered water afterwards to help revitalize.

grounding

11. GROUNDING: The earth has natural electromagnetic waves so when we take off our socks and shoes and stand on the ground – sand, grass, soil or concrete which are conductive surfaces an energy exchange occurs. Think of yourself as a battery that takes in positive charged free radicals from our phones, wi-fi etc. your battery over time loses power so when we ground it helps to recharge us with much needed negatively charged electrons from the earth that neutralise the positively charged free radicals that cause inflammation and in turn disease. Standing barefoot on the ground for as little as 4 minutes a day helps to recharge.

Here You Can Read Expressions of Concern from Scientists, Physicians, Health Policy Experts & Others

 

Probiotics are the superhero of the gut world! With the increased focus on their benefits Probiotics have become one of the biggest trends today

MyPro GutWhy? A probiotic deficiency may very well be a root cause of digestive, physical or even mental health illness. Probiotics aka “friendly bacteria” have become an easy and effective way for us to look after our digestion, boost our immunity and maintain and promote overall wellbeing hence probiotic supplementation can yield massive benefits to many individuals.

The vast range of products available on the market today can cause confusion if the consumer does not know what they are looking for. Not all probiotics are created equal and not all probiotics do the same thing.

Launching three new products Irish company Pharmed introduce the MyPro range delivering the next generation of probiotic interventions, one specifically for new babies, one for people with iron deficiency or for improved iron uptake such as women of childbearing age, pregnant women, children and adolescents, people with gluten intolerance and gastrointestinal diseases, vegetarians, athletes, elderly people and those using medications containing aspirin. The final product being launched resulting from years of clinical research is a high strength formulation of varied probiotic strains clinically proven to reach the gut alive and assist in promoting a healthy microbiome and digestive system for all the family.

Probiotic Myths:

The Billions Myth: Quality (strength) is much more important than quantity
The Cure all Myth: Different probiotics do different things
The Antibiotics Myth: Certain strains can reach the gut alive during the use of antibiotics
The Numbers Myth: Single strains are more specific
The Food Myth: Certain strains have specific health benefits not found in fermented foods
The Fridge Myth: The storage method does not indicate superior quality

• 1 in 3 women need more iron in their diet
• Other groups at risk of iron deficiency include Vegetarians, Athletes, elderly people, people with gluten intolerance, People with gastrointestinal diseases, Women of child bearing age, etc.
• 50% of pregnant women are estimated to be anaemia globally (World Health Organisation )
• A probiotic deficiency may be a root of some mental health illnesses
• Up to 80% of women taking global iron supplements experience adverse effects
• 95% of the iron in a traditional iron supplement is not absorbed

MyPro Iro-Sorb is specifically targeted at people who are Iron deficient. It offers a natural way to increase Iron absorption through dietary intake. Its patented strain of probiotic, LP299V is clinically proven to facilitate this mechanism of natural absorption.
Iro-Sorb also contains added Vitamin C which further enhances Iron absorption as well as containing a folic acid booster. It is suitable for teenagers, men & women to take before, during and after pregnancy and due to its low Iron content (15% RDA) significantly reduces the possibility of side effects.

MyPro Gut 2MyPro Iro-Sorb RRP €19.95 – Available in pharmacies nationwide and at www.mypro-biotics.com

“Probiotics are live micro-organisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host” World Health Organisation

1. MyPro Colicare – clinically documented to improve the early childhood symptoms of infant colic and to promote a healthy digestive system for your baby
2. MyPro Forte – a food supplement resulting from years of clinical research surrounding probiotics. The high strength formulation of its varied probiotic strains are clinically proven to reach the gut alive and assist in promoting a healthy microbiome and digestive system for all the family.

MyPro Colicare RRP €18.95, MyPro Forte RRP €16.95

Available in pharmacies nationwide and at www.mypro-biotics.com

Vitamin D, sometimes referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”, is a hormone-like, fat-soluble vitamin that your body produces when it is in direct contact with sunlight. Sunscreen however, important for protection from melanoma and rapid aging of the skin, blocks these rays. So while we do make it naturally, it is recommended to take supplements.

Vitamin D is vital to the intestinal absorption of many minerals and vitamins that we need to stay healthy and a lack of vitamin D can have dire consequences on our bones, immune system and heart health.

Approximately 10 percent of American adults are vitamin D deficient, however vitamin D deficiencies affect all ages at all stages of life. A vitamin D deficiency is characterized by the following symptoms;

  • Weak muscles
  • Bone pain
  • The inability to think clearly
  • Fatigue
  • A frequency of bone injuries such as breaks and fractures
  • Excess sweating
  • Soft bones

Every single cell in your body relies on vitamin D in order to function normally.

1. Vitamin D Fights Seasonal Depression

Seasonal Affective disorder (SAD or also known as winter blues) is when your mood and temperament is affected by the weather or the lack of sunlight during the winter months in colder countries (1). Colder and darker weather affects your mood as the production of serotonin (a neurotransmitter produced in the brain that maintains mood balance) is linked to the amount of sunlight you get. Symptoms of SAD include;

  • Weight gain
  • Feeling depressed
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Anxiety
  • Becoming quickly irritated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • A decreased libido
  • An increased intake of food

A randomized medical trial has found a relationship between a lack of vitamin D and SAD (2). Brain tissues contain vitamin D receptors and when these receptors are activated they stimulate and increase the growth of nerves within your brain. This process is important to mental health and brain function .

2. Vitamin D Can Ensure A Healthy Pregnancy

An expectant mother with a vitamin D deficiency in her first trimester is at risk of having a baby with extremely low birth weight. A study funded by the University of Pittsburgh found that low levels of vitamin D in the early stages of pregnancy put a baby at risk of stunted growth while in utero (3).

Babies that are born smaller are ultimately born with a higher risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and hypertension later on in life as well as a high risk of mortality within the first month after birth.

Vitamin D is so important for pregnancies because of the vitamin D receptors present in gestational tissues (4). Vitamin D2 and 3 are the most important compounds for human development (5).

10 micrograms per day is recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers (6).

3. Vitamin D Supports Healthy Lung Function

Obstructive pulmonary disease (including emphysema and bronchitis, various diseases that have been grouped as they are all characterized by obstruction in the lungs resulting in poor airflow) and asthma are two chronic lung diseases that are worsened by a lack of vitamin D (7).

These diseases are chronic which means that they are permanent.

Studies show a link between a strengthened reaction by the immune system against infection of the airways caused by manufacturing of antimicrobial peptides and vitamin D, especially when combined with the use of an air purifier.

FREE DOWNLOAD: 8 Easy Juicing Recipes for Health & Weight Loss (Click to download)

A flare up of any of these lung diseases are characterised by uncontrollable coughing, chest tightness, excess mucus buildup in the lungs and difficulty breathing. These flare ups could result in hospitalization, or in extreme cases, even death. Studies show the patients suffering from these conditions could decrease their instances of flare ups by nearly 40 percent by taking vitamin D supplements (8).

Vitamin D deficiencies have a physical effect on the shape of the lungs. A study found that vitamin D deficiencies can change the volume of the lungs and the lung development (9).

4. Vitamin D Aids Calcium Absorption

The most important nutrient needed for the correct absorption of calcium in the body is Vitamin D. Without vitamin D our bodies would struggle to absorb calcium at all. Calcium and vitamin D work hand in hand to stave off or reduce the effects of osteoporosis (10).

Calcium is also important for proper heart, muscle and nerve function as well as blood clotting.

As we age our bodies ability to create vitamin D from sunlight exposure and to properly absorb calcium begin to decrease. When our body does not have enough vitamin D it cannot produce a hormone called calcitriol which regulates calcium levels in the body. The body then takes calcium stored within the skeleton. This weakens the existing bones and prevents new bone formation (11).

A serious vitamin D deficiency is likely to result in the development of rickets in young children and can also be responsible for osteomalacia (when bones soften due to a lack of calcium or vitamin D) in adults. (12)

5. Vitamin D Supports The Brain And Nervous System

Vitamin D plays an important role in regulating the health of the brain and nervous system both during its development and throughout the rest of our lives.

Studies carried out on rodents observing the effect of vitamin D on the brain found that pregnant mice that were vitamin D deficient gave birth to babies with thinner and longer brains which had larger than usual ventricles. This unusual brain shape is caused by excess brain cells not dying off when they should. This process of getting rid of unnecessary brain cells is needed for important cell connections to develop within the brain (13).

Mice born to vitamin D deficient mothers also exhibited behaviours similar to behaviours seen in people with schizophrenia and autism.

Hypovitaminosis D is the decline of vitamin D in the system due to old age. Elderly with a lack of vitamin D in their systems are at a higher risk of developing dementia or having a stroke. As of now, five studies have reported a link between hypovitaminosis D and dementia.

6. Vitamin D Promotes Weight Loss

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin so it is stored within the fat cells in our bodies.

Vitamin D receptors tell the body whether it should store or burn the fat we consume. When you provide these receptors with more vitamin D it promotes the burning of fats over storing it (a). If receptors in your brain do not get enough vitamin D you tend to feel hungrier which can lead to excess snacking.

Research shows that most people battling obesity have much lower vitamin D levels in their blood (14). When a study put 38 overweight adults on a specialised 11 week eating plan it was found that participants who started the diet with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood were more successful in losing weight than participants with low starting levels of vitamin D.

The vitamin D levels in participants were also a precursor to the successful loss of belly or abdominal fat (abdominal fat most notable visceral abdominal fat is particularly harmful as it surrounds your organs and usually leads to health complications like type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and insulin resistance).

Being unable to lose weight could be a sign of a vitamin d deficiency.

7. Vitamin D Fights Disease

Vitamin D is actually a prohormone which means that the body is able to convert it into a hormone. When the body is depleted of vitamin D you are at risk of developing heart disease, muscle weakness and some cancers.

Colorectal (cancer of the colon), breast and prostate cancer and the mortality caused by them have been linked to low levels of vitamin D in the blood. Studies have found that an uptake of vitamin D can help protect the body from these cancers (15).

Vitamin D receptors are also found in the nuclei (the nucleus) of the body’s immune cells. Further evidence links a vitamin D deficiency to diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus (a disease where your immune system begins to attacks itself causing a rash on the face, severe fatigue and joint pain) and rheumatoid arthritis (16).

A study that hopes to explore the extent to which vitamin D is useful in protecting the body from cancer, diabetes, depression and hypertension is currently underway. The study will span five years and include 20 thousand participants (17).

8. Vitamin D For Healthy Infants And Toddlers

The development of rickets is the potential danger for babies and toddlers that are vitamin D deficient (18). Babies that are at highest risk of developing rickets are babies who have a darker skin tone, those born premature, who are being or have been breast fed and babies whose mothers have low levels of vitamin D.

Vitamin D is essential for normal body development and growth. When a baby is deficient it does not have the correct biological material to build healthy teeth and bones and will most likely have retarded bone growth. A few signs that your baby or young child has rickets are;

  • Weakened muscles
  • Projection of the breast bone
  • Pain and discomfort in the legs, pelvis and or spine
  • Thickened ankles and wrists
  • Abnormal leg shaped such as knocked knees or bowed legs
  • Slow growth (19)

If rickets is not addressed and treated it could lead to permanent skeletal damage, dental defects, seizures and a curved spine. Sunlight is not an option for increasing levels as prolonged direct contact with the sun holds too many risks for infants.

Babies who are breastfed are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency as vitamin D is added to infant formula. The recommended dose is 8 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D daily for breastfed infants under the age of one (20).

9. Vitamin D Can Ease Various Skin Issues

Vitamin D receptors in the cells are directly linked to cell differentiation (when a cell becomes specialized to performing a certain function) and cell proliferation (a process which increases cell numbers). These receptors are also linked to healthy immune function, this is important because a weak immune system cannot fight cell damaging free radicals, and free radicals can cause major damage to skin cells (21).

Nearly 40000 of your cells die within a minute. The system of cell renewal is heavily dependant on vitamin D. This process occurs in cell called keratinocytes and they make up over 90 percents of all cells in the epidermis (the skin). When they receive the right amount of vitamin d these cells are able to differentiate and multiply. Because of this these cells provide a constant flow of younger cells to replenish the epidermis and create a layer of moisture trapping tissue.

The actual rate at which cell multiply and differentiate is prompt by vitamin D. When your body does not get enough, this process slows down and skin can become thin and damaged.

Eczema, excess sweating, wrinkles and acne are all signs of vitamin D deficient cells. Vitamin D also acts as an antiinflammatory within the skin and that can prevent or lessen the severity of acne (22).

Contact with sunlight is one way to get vitamin D but it can also be damaging to skin cells so it is advisable to limit your direct contact with sunlight to less than 30 minutes a day and to use sunscreen. Foods high in vitamin D and supplements are less harsh on the skin.

10. Vitamin D Prevents Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction or impotence is when a man is unable to achieve or maintain an erection for the purpose of intercourse. It can be a physiological problem or a physical one. ED has been found to have negative impacts on the self esteem of men suffering and their relationships as well as making it difficult for couples to conceive (23).

ED is a potential risk factor or precursor in developing high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

A study in America carried out on over 3000 men over the age of 20, all suffering from a vitamin D deficiency, found that 16 percent of them had ED (24). The same study stated that men lacking in vitamin D have a 32 percent higher risk of developing ED.

Men who have been diagnosed with ED are likely to also develop endothelial dysfunction (when the capacity of the inner blood vessel linings to control vascular relaxation and regulate immune function and blood clotting becomes compromised). Low vitamin D levels inhibit nitric oxide synthesis. Nitric oxide secretion is key to smooth muscle relaxation in the corpora cavernosa (the bulk of the erectile tissue) (25).

11. Vitamin D Improves Symptoms Of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease of the respiratory system that can also have an impact on the brain, spine and kidneys. Although symptoms do not always occur they include;

  • Phlegm build up in the lungs
  • Sudden weight loss
  • A cough that has persisted for more than three weeks
  • Loss of appetite
  • Night sweats
  • A fever and or chills
  • Coughing up mucus and or blood
  • Persistent fatigue

TB can be active or dormant. Approximately 1 in 3 people worldwide have dormant TB while 1 in 10 will develop active TB. Drug or alcohol abuse, and having cancer, diabetes or HIV or AIDS can result in dormant TB becoming active as they weaken the immune system (26).

Vitamin D increases the increases the amount of proteins in your immune system that kill foreign and potentially harmful bacteria. Studies show that TB patients who have been given vitamin D doses had faster rates of recovery and experienced fewer TB symptoms.

A study in Pakistan determined that low vitamin D levels were partly responsible for the progression from dormant to active TB. Low vitamin D levels can be looked at as a sign of possible latent TB or a sign of the patient having been diagnosed with TB once before (27).

To treat TB with vitamin D it is recommended to take no more than 10,000 IU (international units) a day.

12. Vitamin D Influences Gene Expression

Vitamin D is involved in the process of gene expression, which is where certain functions of cells are turned off or turned on.

Gene expression is a process in which genes synthesize products (usually proteins that go on to become hormones, enzymes and receptors that carry out important functions) according to genetic instructions provided by our DNA.

An analysis carried out on 8 vitamin D deficient adults found positive changes to the actions of 291 different genes. These genes were directly involved in 160 pathways that are linked to infectious and autoimmune diseases, cancer, the way cells respond to stress, DNA regulation and heart function (28).

Vitamin D downregulates and upregulates proteins manufactured by gene regulation (29).

13. Vitamin D Can Ease Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease where your immune system targets and damages the myelin sheath that protects your nerve fibers in your spinal cord and brain (the central nervous system) that causes a problem with the communication between the brain and body. MS could eventually cause permanent damage (30).

The symptoms of MS vary. The more damage done to the nerves, the more severe the signs are (loss of vision, feeling permanently fatigued, heavily impaired coordination and pain). At its severest, people with MS may lose the ability to walk.

MS has found to be more common in areas that are further away from the equator and thus get less sun year round (31). Research shows that babies born with lower levels of vitamin D in their blood are more likely to develop MS later on in life.

Patients suffering from MS report less attacks during Summer months which correlates with more exposure to direct sunlight which results in the body creating more vitamin D (32).Studies hoping to determine the effects of vitamin D on myelin repair and its role in neuroprotection are currently underway (33).

14. Vitamin D Improves Your Eyesight

People with low vitamin D levels are at risk of developing wet macular degeneration. Wet macular degeneration is a chronic disease of the eye and causes a person to develop a blind spot in their field of sight or blurred vision. It is caused by unusual growth of blood vessels within the eyes that secrete excess fluid or blood.

Vitamin D prevents angiogenesis, the process by which blood vessels form. It is also an anti inflammatory which also helps to prevent wet macular degeneration as the disease is worsened by inflammation in the eye (34).

15. Vitamin D Improves Metabolic Syndrome

Elevated blood pressure, excess amounts of body fat in the stomach area, atypical cholesterol levels and high sugar levels are all a part of metabolic syndrome. The dangers of metabolic syndrome are high risk of stroke and heart attacks.

Metabolic syndrome affects up to 25 percent of the adult population worldwide. It is caused by a vitamin D deficiency coupled with a diet high in saturated fats and carbohydrates (35).

Vitamin D spurs on manufacturing of defensins, molecules which maintain and restore the health of gut flora (microorganisms in the digestive tract). Healthy bacteria in your gut reduces the fat in the liver and regulates blood sugar.

Vitamin D also boosts the diversity of bacteria in your gut which reduces risk from harmful pathogens (36).

15 Best Vitamin D Foods

1. Egg Yolks

Egg yolks have a bad reputation for being high in cholesterol, and they are, but with High Density Lipoprotein cholesterol which is also known as the “good” cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is considered good because of it’s relationship with LDL cholesterol (low-density protein which is considered the “bad” cholesterol).

HDL searches for and finds LDL within the blood stream. It then takes the LDL to the liver where it is reprocessed. HDL is also constantly working to keep the endothelium (the inside of blood vessels) in good shape. When these inner walls become damaged a process called atherosclerosis begins and the artery walls start to thicken. This can have life threatening results such as strokes and heart attacks.

Eggs yolks are mucher higher in vitamins than egg whites.

Egg yolks contain the carotenoids zeaxanthin and lutein which together significantly lower the risk of macular degeneration (an age related incurable eye disease) and cataracts. These eye diseases are the result of damage caused by free radicals. The carotenoids are antioxidants which prevent and reverse the damage the free radicals cause.

Choline is an important macronutrient found in egg yolks that most people do not get enough of. Choline is important because it builds and strengthens cell membranes. Choline is also involved in several bodily functions such as brain, liver and muscle function.

Choline aids the development of DNA methylation and an American study found that women with diets that contained high levels of choline had a nearly 25 percent less chance of developing breast cancer.

2. Salmon

Salmon is an incredible source of protein. Protein is important as it aids the process of muscle healing caused by aging and physical activity.

Salmon is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is a healthy fat (natural polyunsaturated fat) that our body cannot make by itself. Omega-3 is a popular supplement (fish oil) and offers a range of health benefits including;

  • Regulating menstruation and thus improving fertility in women
  • Reducing or healing skin ailments such as acne, psoriasis and eczema
  • Combatting dry eye syndrome
  • Soothing anxiety symptoms
  • Strengthening brain growth and development
  • Keeping your heart rate normal
  • Regulating blood clotting
  • Reducing fatty liver
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Reversing insulin resistance
  • Countering inflammation
  • Fighting autoimmune diseases

3. Cheese

The calcium content of cheese is very high. Calcium is needed to keep bone and teeth health from deteriorating. Another benefit for teeth is that cheese has a very low lactose content. In high amounts lactose can cause damage to the teeth.

Cheese is high in vitamin B. Vitamin B is an important one for pregnant or lactating women, children and the elderly as it is a vital component in first the formation and then the strengthening of cartilage and bones.

If weight gain is recommended for health, cheese is a good food to include in your diet.

4. Shrimp

Astaxanthin is a carotenoid found in shrimp. Astaxanthin is an effective antioxidant that reduces damage done to the skin by exposure to direct sunlight and UVA. UVA is responsible for the development of sunspots, premature aging and wrinkles in the skin.

A zinc deficiency within the body has been found responsible for accelerated hair loss. Zinc (found in shrimp) creates and maintain new cells, including the very cells responsible for the health of skin and hair. Other symptoms of a zinc deficiency include;

  • Sudden weight loss
  • Development of white spots in the fingernails
  • Onset of depression
  • Dulling of taste and smell senses
  • Diarrhea
  • Unusual bone growth

Shrimp contains omega-3 fatty acids which has exhibited soothing effects of cramping and pain associated with menstruation.

5. Oysters

One serving of oysters contain almost 90 percent of the recommended daily requirement of iron. Iron is vital to the process of generation of red blood cells. The increase of oxygenated blood in the body provides the bodies organs with fuel to keep the functioning at optimal levels.

Getting enough iron is essential to combating anemia, a condition that can result in chronic fatigue, stomach problems, weakening of muscles and cognitive malfunction.

Oysters contain zinc which is a key component in wound healing and accelerated recovery from injury.

Oysters also contain vitamin E which increases the flexibility and strength of the membranes of various cells.

6. Soy Milk

The isoflavones in soy beans have been shown by studies to be beneficial to menopausal women in that it can balance the amount of oestrogen being lost through the process of menopause. The isoflavones are a kind of phytoestrogens, these are plant based (fruits and vegetables) and mimic oestrogen effects within the body.

Soymilk helps to defend the liver from stress caused by oxidation because of its hepatoprotective properties.

Soymilk has added calcium and unlike a diet high in animal protein, a diet high in soymilk protein reduces the likelihood of losing calcium via urinary excretion. These factors make soymilk a good tool for fighting brittle bones and bone break down.

7. Pork

Pork contains vitamin B1 or thiamine. Thiamine has a few important functions within the body including allowing electrolytes to flow into and out of muscle and nerve cells, metabolising carbohydrates and aiding bodily enzymatic processes.

The body does not produce thiamine and can only retain it for about 18 days, thus it is important to keep up a healthy intake. A few symptoms of a thiamine deficiency (knows as beriberi) include;

  • Developing depression
  • Nausea
  • Pains in the abdomen
  • Headaches
  • Irritability

Pork tenderloin is also leaner than chicken making it a healthier source of protein.

8. Tuna

Tuna has a very high omega-3 fatty acid content. Omega-6 (the unhealthy fatty acid) and cholesterol tends to build up in the blood vessels and arteries, increasing the risks of developing heart disease. Omega-3 strips away the Omega-6 fatty acids.

A single can of tuna yields up to 80 percent of the recommended daily dose of protein. Having protein in your body is pivotal to muscle development and growth. Protein is also responsible for quickening the rate at which wounds on the body heals after an injury.

The anti-inflammatory properties of tuna helps to lower hypertension and keep your blood pressure regular.

Tuna is full of a range of B vitamins. B vitamins are linked to improving your overall organ function and boosting your metabolism.B vitamins are also known to increase the amount of energy your body produces daily.

Tuna is very high in iron. Iron increases the amount of red blood cells in your circulation system and the actual volume of blood.

The sodium and potassium levels in tuna helps when it comes to managing the balance of fluid in your body. When there is a fluid imbalance in your body stress is put onto the kidneys and they are not able to function properly.

Cooked tuna produces peptides which are important for protecting cell membranes including those in the brain.

9. Beef Liver

Beef liver is very high in many different minerals and vitamins. One of these vitamins is vitamin B12. B12 is crucial to DNA synthesis, the formation of red blood cells and healthy neurological functions.

A vitamin B12 deficiency has been linked to multiple neurological disorders like dementia in older patients. Other B12 deficiency induced disorders include neuropathy (a disease that affects the nervous system), myelopathy (a disease that affects the spinal cord), disturbances to usual behaviour and overall weakening cognitive activity.

To get the most minerals and vitamins out of beef liver, be sure to buy hormone free.

10. Sardines

Macular degeneration is a disease that affects the eyes. It is mostly prominent in the elderly. The more it progresses the higher the chance of permanent damage to the retina.

The fish oil in fatty fish increases the bodys immune cell count which builds up a stronger immune system.

Sardines are high in the mineral selenium. Selenium goes directly into the nucleus of DNA cells and repairs any damage present. If this damage is not fixed the cell could become cancerous. Selenium has shown signs of cancer prevention, most notably liver, prostate and lung cancer.

Studies have pointed to selenium having a direct affect on the activity of the thyroid and the continued production of thyroid hormones. Your thyroid affects your weight, temperature, sleep patterns, appetite and energy levels.

Selenium is present in sperm mitochondria and very high or very low levels can have a negative impact on sperm count.

Low levels of selenium are prevalent in those suffering from chronic asthma.

11. Fortified Cereals

Cereals are complex carbohydrates that are enriched with vitamins and minerals. Fortified cereals range from oats to rye to rice.

Cereals provide a uniquely high level of energy. As cereals are so high inexpensive and calorie rich, they make up nearly 30 percent of calorie intake in North America and this percentage only increases in poorer countries.

Cereals contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. High fiber has many health benefits, such as keeping blood sugars at healthy levels and preventing disorders of the colon and constipation. When you eat, glucose is secreted into the body. Fiber slows this process down. Cereals improve the process of peristalsis (when the muscles in the intestines contract in such a way as to assist the movement of food within the digestive tract) and also increases the bulk of stools which keeps your system clean.

It is best to avoid cereals if suffering from celiac disease.

12. Fish Roe

Fish roe are fish eggs also known as caviar. Fish roe is another high omega-3 fatty acid food. Omega-3 reduces inflammation that is associated with many autoimmune diseases.

Fish roe also contain vitamin B12, magnesium, calcium and iron. Including foods high in magnesium can;

  • Reduce anxiety and nervousness
  • Prevent migraines
  • Relieve muscles spasms and aches
  • Increase your energy
  • Aid digestion
  • Regulate sodium levels

13. Mushrooms

The potassium in mushrooms works as a vasodilator (something that widens the blood vessels which allows more blood to pass through) and relaxes tension within blood vessels. This results in lowered blood pressure.

Potassium is also responsible for better cognitive function because when blood vessels are relaxed and more oxygenated blood is flowing to the brain, higher levels of neural activity are stimulated.

Mushrooms contain copper which is a trace mineral. Copper increases the rate at which our bodies absorb iron which in key in avoiding developing anemia. Copper also regulates your heartbeat and ensures that the body grows at a normal rate.

Copper can reduce the signs of aging because it stimulates the production of collagen.

Mushrooms are a form of natural antibiotic that is very effective in protecting people with diabetes from developing infections in their arms and legs. They also support proper function of the pancreas, certain endocrine glands and the liver. They promote insulin formation and regulation.

14. Orange Juice

Just one serving of orange juice has over 200 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, or ascorbic acid. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects the immune system against free radicals making it stronger and less susceptible to infection. Another important function of this antioxidant is keeping DNA of cells that are healthy from mutating and becoming cancerous. Vitamin C and ts antioxidant properties are the first line of defense against colds, flus and more serious diseases.

Orange juice has a very high folate content. Folate is most notably responsible for the growth of young cells and creating DNA. Folate is also important for creating more red blood cells and for promoting blood flow to your extremities.

The antioxidant hesperidin, which is found in orange juice, impacts the function and activity of the smaller blood vessels. Hesperidin can lower high blood pressure and significantly decrease your chances of developing heart disease.

Orange juice contains fiber which regulates bowel movements and can lower cholesterol levels.

The citrates and citric acid in orange juice can prevent the development of kidney stones. Kidney stones are solid mineral deposits that develop in your kidneys. They can cause debilitating abdominal and or side and back pain as well as urine in the blood.

15. Infant Formula

Infant formula is becoming the world’s most popular fortified food. While breast feeding is preferable some mothers are unable to (low milk supply, baby not latching etc) and are thus unable to pass on antibodies and nutrition to their babies. Infant formula is enriched with the minerals and vitamins babies need to grow and thrive.

Certain types of infant formula even have an added probiotic called bifidobacterium lactis which reduces the effects of colic (a condition where seemingly healthy babies cry for three or more hours per day), decreases the chance of developing food allergies and reduces diarrhea. Infant formula can also reduce allergies in babies.

This article was first published on Jen Reviews, check out her site if you liked this article.

As I have been facialist and skincare specialist for over 20 years I get asked quite a lot by
my clients ‘Virginie, Why should I choose a natural skincare or makeup?’

Virginie Claire Group

Virginie Claire (Right)

My answer is simply ‘Why not choose a natural quality product if you have the choice?’ It is up to us to take control of our skin through:

  • Consistency and Commitment
  • Ingredients
  • Knowledge & Education

There can be a lot of confusion and concern regarding ingredients in our cosmetics, one of
the most talked about is parabens. Here I hope to inform not alarm you on what they are and why they are used in cosmetics. So you can choose your products based on an informed choice. Virginie, V Claire Natural Cosmetics.



What are parabens?

Parabens have been in use since the 1950, and are frequently added to cosmetics to prevent the growth of bacteria. The majority of cosmetics use a combination of them because they are cheap and effective.

What are parabens made of?

Parabens are man made, they are a chemical compound of para-hydroxybenzoic acid. They regroup into methylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben.

What are the effect of parabens on our wellbeing?

Parabens are xenoestrogens, meaning they mimic oestrogens in the body and unsetle the body natural hormones. Also, they can be stored in the body, resulting in a cumulative effect that can damage health overtime.

This overload of oestrogens has been linked to health issues such as breast cancer and reproductive disfunction, including early onset of puberty and reduced sperm count.

What is the natural alternative to parabens?

Many ingredients can be used to preserve cosmetics such as:

Benzyl Alcohol, Salicylic acid, glycerin, sorbic acid, essential oils such as thyme, oregano, rosemary, clove cinnamon, tea tree and many more.

Using a few parabens is harmless, but using a multple amount of cosmetcs including parabens may afect your wellbeing.

Take control of your skin and wellbeing by KNOWING THE INGREDIENTS your cosmetic is made of. Be curious and ask questions, then you can make the right choice.

 

Depression is a mental health condition which affects a person’s thinking, feelings, energy and behaviour. It is the most common mental health condition, affecting some 300,000 people in Ireland.

Sponsored by


The World Health Organisation define depression as “a common mental disorder, characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness and poor concentration” (WHO, 2017).  Every day experiences create different moods (sadness, grief, elation etc.), so it can be difficult to determine what is normal and what is abnormal. A prolonged feeling of any one emotion could be a signal that you need to take steps to get yourself back on track.

Top Tips to get yourself Back on Track:

Get support: Surround yourself with people you trust and feel you can openly speak to about your problems. The expression “a problem shared is a problem halved” is very true. Counselling can be very effective. The HSE offers a National Counselling Service (NCS) which is a confidential counseling and psychotherapy service available free of charge in all regions of the country.

Say YES: Try to change your mind-set… say yes more often, even if you don’t feel like participating. Just by participating in new activities, your body will generate more positive emotions… helping to negate negative emotions. A fulfilling social life can contribute to a sense of meaning and self-worth.

Eat a Balanced Diet: Eat a balanced diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, fish, lean meats, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. A balanced diet will provide adequate vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids to help keep your body nourished and energy stable. Low energy contributes to low mood so eating every 3-4 hours is a good way to keep energy stable and reduce low mood.

Avoid Energy Grabbers: Refined carbohydrates such as pastries, white bread, white pasta, white rice, sweets, cakes, biscuits etc. can cause energy slumps, contributing to low mood. Caffeine can also lead to mood problems if drank in excess. Caffeine also inhibits levels of serotonin in the brain, and, when serotonin levels are suppressed, you can become depressed and feel irritable.

Avoid your Triggers: Everyone has their own triggers… it could be gluten, sugar, alcohol, nicotine, dairy – we’re all different and we all react differently to different foods/ substances. People who are sensitive to gluten found in wheat, rye, spelt or barley often find that these foods contribute to feelings of sadness. If this is the case, avoid as much as possible. Alcohol often triggers depressive tendencies in the days following a drinking binge. Try to avoid any foods, drinks or substances that tend to exasperate symptoms of depression.

Exercise: According to some studies, regular exercise works as well as medication for some people to reduce symptoms of depression, and the effects can be long lasting. Exercise gives you a boost of energy, increases endorphins — such as serotonin — that improve mood and may improve sleep quality, which in turn can increase overall happiness. Do: Exercise for at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week at a minimum. Walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, skating, hiking, aerobic classes are all types of aerobic exercise. Find something you enjoy and just Do It!

Spend Time Outdoors: Research shows that soaking up extra vitamin D from the sun can help to reduce the symptoms of depression.  Vitamin D acts like a hormone in the body and affects brain function, so a deficiency can cause mood disorders, including depression and seasonal affective disorder or the winter blues, a form of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. Do: Spend 20 minutes out in the sun everyday. Even on cloudy days, your body will be able to produce some vitamin D.

Find a Purpose: Having a purpose or goal in your life can give you direction and greatly ease negative feelings. It doesn’t need to be complicated – it could be visiting a sick friend, completing a patchwork quilt, sorting out the garage.

Relaxation techniques: Try Pilates, Yoga or Meditation, as they are great ways to relax the mind and get in touch with the now. All three relaxation techniques have a positive effect on serotonin levels, thereby improving ones mood.

Lavender Oil Depression

Relax with Lavender Oil: This oil is well known for its calming benefits and also benefits mood. There was an interesting study showing the benefits of lavender on people suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can result in depression. The lavender oil, when used daily, helped decrease depression by 32.7%, reduced sleep disturbances and moodiness in 47 people suffering from PTSD. Do: To use lavender oil as a natural remedy for depression, add 5–10 drops to warm bath water, diffuse 5–10 drops in your bedroom at night to promote sleep, and apply 2–3 drops topically to the temples, chest and wrists in the morning.

Food Supplements to help manage Depression:

Eskimo-3 Advanced EPA Despression

Eskimo-3 Advanced EPA

Eskimo-3: This is a premium food supplement rich in EPA and DHA, the omega-3 fats which are vital for neurological health. The higher your levels of omega-3, the higher your level of serotonin will be. The reason for this is that omega-3 fats help build the brain’s receptor sites for serotonin, the feel good hormone. Omega 3s supports brain, eye, and heart health throughout life. Eskimo-3 has the highest levels of EPA and DHA available in a single serving.  On the market for more than 20 years and with over 120 scientific studies, the Eskimo range represents probably the finest quality fish oil on the market, providing Omega-3 rich oil of legendary purity, freshness & stability. The oil is always from sustainable sources, and there is full traceability and quality control throughout the production process, from the fishing boat to the finished oil.

Vitamin D3: Vitamin D also regulates the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin –your feel good hormone. Low levels are thought to be responsible for S.A.D (seasonal affective disorder), commonly referred to as “The Winter Blues”, and therefore supplementing with vitamin D during the winter months can help ease symptoms and improve mood.

Rhodiola: This is an adaptogenic herb which works by increasing the sensitivity of neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters help to increase focus and memory and improve mood. Terranova Rhodiola is very good.

B-Complex: Deficiencies of a number of nutrients are quite common in depressed individuals. The most common deficiencies are the b vitamins Folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6. These B vitamins are essential for a healthy nervous system and the healthy production of hormones serotonin and dopamine which are essential for improving mood. 

Multi Vitamin/Mineral Formula: A good multi-vitamin mineral supplement could help safeguard your health. A deficiency of any single nutrient can alter brain function and lead to depression, anxiety and other mental disorders. By taking a good multi, you can correct all deficiencies, and hopefully positively affect your health.

You can’t open a newspaper or turn on a TV these days without hearing about the latest greatest wellness trend

However if I’m honest, when it comes to health it frustrates me that we focus so much of our time and attention on what we put into our body with minimal awareness or understanding about what we are putting on our body!

I have seen people turn into freaks about food. They ask a million questions in restaurants and cafes and read every tiny detail of every food label in the supermarket. Then they return home and spray toxic deodorants, shower and lather themselves in perfumed products.

The fact is if we really want to empower people to live healthier lives then their environment must be taken into consideration. According to US research one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in our personal care products are industrial chemicals. (source EWG.org) So what are you really putting on your skin? Could your hormonal issues actually be down to your choice of cleanser, deodorant or even cleaning product? Could your skin rashes or allergies possibly be caused by the ridiculous amount of toxins we ingest topically and in the air each day?

I’m not going to lie it’s a minefield trying to sift through what’s actually safe and what’s not. My product philosophy is similar to my food philosophy – Keep it simple & keep it real. However, some experts are now saying that what we put on our skin can actually be more harmful than what we put into our mouth.

In simple terms our skin is our largest organ and recent studies show that

  • the skin absorbs more than 60% of the toxic chemicals in our cosmetics.
  • The average woman uses about 15-20 products each day totaling about five pounds of unnecessary and unwanted chemicals each year.

It’s simply impossible to eliminate all toxins from our lives because today we live in a toxic world plain and simple, however what we can strive for is balance.

We can’t control the air pollution in our cities and towns but what we can control is what comes into our homes and what we use for our own personal care. Our bodies are incredible machines that are capable of detoxifying very efficiently but it comes down to toxic load. These days our bodies are consistently exposed to toxins in many forms whether it is environmental toxins, pesticides, food additives, heavy metals, household products and wireless technology. We are already fighting against so much so really what I’m asking you to do here is really think about the how hard you want your body to work unnecessarily.

 

So what’s in our products?

There is everything from skin irritants in our body wash to hormone disruptors in our moisturizer.  Ingredients like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sulphate (SLS), which is a foaming agent found in industrial cleaners, engine degreasers, car wash products and in our make-up and skincare.

Formaldehyde, considered to be a human carcinogen, is found in carpet cleaners, paint, dishwashing liquid…and body soap and baby shampoo!! Octinoxate is an endocrine disruptor that mimics estrogen and can disrupt thyroid function.

Parabens, used in a wide variety of personal care products and foods are in fact endocrine-disrupting chemicals which can be absorbed through skin, blood and the digestive system.

Phthalates pronounced THAL-ates are more chemicals, which are linked to endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and even cancer. They have been banned from cosmetics in the European Union, but you need to watch out for them in U.S. products.

The list goes on and on and at risk of it becoming overwhelming I have a simple guide and some top tips about what you can do to get started:

I have personally pared down my cosmetics cabinet and cleaning supplies to more natural alternatives over time and I encourage people to do this in stages or it can feel too overwhelming.

Since taking a Full 360 approach to my personal wellness my health has improved enormously. I live medication free from illnesses like depression, anxiety and asthma and my quality of life is far better too.

  • As your products run out replace them with more natural and chemical free alternatives. There are so many fantastic and affordable brands out there now that there really is no need to use the toxic ones.
  • Start with switching your deodorants to natural ones. Anti-perspirant’s have come under the spotlight because there are concerns about the negative effects of aluminium. Aluminum essentially plugs your sweat ducts and stops sweat flowing, which I used to think was amazing but is it coming at a cost? The less favourable ingredients in deodorants may be absorbed and cause estrogen like hormonal effects and could contribute to breast cancer.
  • Next move to your largest surface area, which is the skin on your body, and look at switching up your shower gel and body cream or oil. Look out for plant-based products, as they are more effective and nourishing. At home I add some essential oils to some coconut oil for a quick and inexpensive moisturiser. I use Dr. Hauschka, Phyts, Anu, Human and Kind.
  • Next try and switch all your cleaning products as they run out. I love Ecover and bio and Lily’s

I hope this helps and I promise you showing some love to your awareness of your environment will pay off. Lets face it if we are going to work on our internal happiness then surely it would be a crime not to keep your face and body happy too.

There’s a lot of talk these days about healthy eating, but some things I hear make me question if we really understand what eating healthily means

 

I have teamed up with the butlers pantry to explore the area of healthy food on the go. I have been given some of their winter menu to sample for this series of articles.

The idea of excluding whole food groups from your diet does not seem to me to be a sustainable or healthy way of eating, and I enjoy my food too much ever to be able to give up bread, butter, or good dark chocolate. That said, I love my fruit and vegetables too, and cram as many of them into my daily diet as possible.

What’s clear to me is that it’s important to eat good quality food, and to keep processed food to an absolute minimum, and that includes the so-called ‘healthy’ foods in the supermarkets.

The Butler’s Pantry, which is celebrating 30 years in business this year was ahead of its time when it started out, because it focused on making wholesome fresh food from the very best of ingredients, always putting flavor to the fore. Over the years, some of the dishes have changed to keep up with changing tastes, but The Butler’s Pantry has stayed true to its core values, and its team of chefs and bakers make the food for its shops from scratch each day in its own kitchen in Bray.

Why eat healthily?

It may seem obvious, but to me it makes sense that if you eat good, fresh and nutritious food, you are making the best choice for your mind and body. And freshly-prepared food is far more nutritious than anything made with additives and preservatives to prolong its shelf-life.

Here are some top tips for eating more healthily:

Replace salt with alternatives

Although we all need salt in our diet, the ideal amount is just a teaspoon a day and some processed meals can contain that much in a single serving! If you have elevated blood pressure, restricting the amount of salt in your diet can help lower your blood pressure.

Some great substitutes for salt are pepper, fresh herbs and spices, all of which add flavour to your food. At The Butler’s Pantry, they use dillisk (powdered seaweed) in some of their delicious meals – it’s particularly suited to fish dishes. 

Make sure you are eating real bread, like proper sourdough

Sourdough bread is everywhere these days, but how much of the bread that’s labelled ‘sourdough’ is the real deal? True sourdough bread contains only flour, water and salt, is fermented slowly and has great flavour. The Butler’s Pantry’s bakers make fresh sourdough bread each day, using a ‘mother’ or ‘starter’ that they have nurtured carefully for several years. The slow fermentation using naturally-occurring lactobacilli and yeast that produces real sourdough bread breaks down hard-to-digest gluten into more easily absorbed nutrients, and adds B-vitamins. When you eat proper sourdough, you ingest lots of the good bacteria that are important for maintaining and promoting a healthy gut microbiome.

Commercial sourdough brings none of the healthy benefits of authentic sourdough because neither the process nor the time allowed for fermentation permit the breakdown of gluten or the growth of good bacteria.

How do you spot a good sourdough from an imposter? Cut open a good sourdough and inhale – it’s slightly sour, tangy, and very comforting.

At the end of the day, choose real food 

After dinner once a week have a small piece of a delicious seasonal dessert such as the Winter Fruit Crumble from The Butler’s Pantry. The recipe is below if you fancy making it yourself at home. 

 

THE BUTLER’S PANTRY WINTER FRUIT CRUMBLE

 

Healthy Apple Crumble

Serves 4 – 6


Ingredients:

Plums                          4

Apples                         4

Blackberries                2 punnets

Sugar                         100g

Vanilla                         1 pod

Butter                          50g


Almond crumble
:

Ground almonds                     100g

Butter                                    100g

Sugar                                     100g

Plain Flour                               100g

Method

  1. Cut the plums into quarters and remove the stones.
  2. Core the apples and cut into eighths
  3. Heat a large frying pan, add the butter and split vanilla pod and, when the butter starts to foam, add in the fruit and sugar.
  4. Toss in the pan and cook for a couple of minutes before transferring to a an 8 inch pie dish.
  5. For the topping, mix all the ingredients together until it becomes a crumb.
  6. Sprinkle on top of the fruit and bake in a preheated oven at 160c/ fan 140c / gas mark 3 until golden brown.
  7. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

The menopause is a natural stage in your life and there a number of top tips to help you prepare and pass through this transition easily and comfortably

Symptoms that your body is preparing for the menopause can start in the mid-40s (or earlier) and can include changes in the frequency or heaviness of your periods, premenstrual tension, mood swings and irritability. As your body produces less and less oestrogen, other symptoms may appear, including aching joints, depression, lack of energy, joint pains, declining libido, weight gain, headaches and, most commonly, hot flushes and night sweats

We go through the menopause because as women we literally run out of eggs.

Not all women have a miserable time, symptoms can vary and some women sail through while others can get symptoms. Hot flushes and night sweats are among the most common and uncomfortable symptoms and their frequency and severity can vary from woman to woman.  Certain foods and situations can trigger some hot flushes and these can include spicy foods, caffeinated drinks, alcohol and stressful situations.

Phytoestrogens can help alleviate menopausal symptoms so make sure you include plenty in your diet. Phytoestrogens are found in almost all fruit, vegetables and wholegrains but they are most beneficial when they are found in legumes, such as soya, lentil, peas and chickpeas. A good phytoestrogen supplement is NHP’s MenoHerbal Support from good health food shops.

The menopause is a time of change and your female hormones are going to be fluctuating up and down as you go through this stage until you come out the other side and into the postmenopause, when your hormones will stabilise.  The more gradually you go through the menopause, the less hormone fluctuations you experience and the easier the transition.  What you eat now to prepare yourself for this stage can make the difference between having a difficult or easy menopause. 

You would follow the same dietary recommendations even if you are on HRT because you want to keep yourself as healthy as possible and also there will come a time when you need to come off HRT.

I also always recommend that women take a good-quality multivitamin and mineral to prepare for and during the menopause.  This supplement should contain vital nutrients for bone health, good levels of antioxidants to help slow down the ageing process, and other important vitamins and minerals, such as the B vitamins and chromium, to help keep blood-sugar levels balanced.  It should also contain calcium, magnesium, manganese, boron and vitamin D3 (see NHP’s MenoSupport multivitamin and mineral).   Also take a good Omega 3 fish oil supplement as deficiencies of this nutrient can look like symptoms that may occur leading up to the menopause and beyond such as dry skin, lifeless hair, cracked nails, fatigue, depression, dry eyes, lack of motivation, aching joint, difficulty in losing weight and forgetfulness.

The risk of osteoporosis increases with age especially after the menopause when oestrogen levels decline. The more you can do to work on prevention the better.

Finally, as well as eating a healthy, bone building diet a regular exercise programme is crucial for warding off osteoporosis. This is because the more physically active we are, the more bone we will build. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes exercise five times a week.

Women can now live 30 to 50 years past the menopause and you want to live those years in good health and free from symptoms.  Preparing for the menopause by eating well, taking appropriate supplements and exercising, your health will improve, which enhances the quality of your life.  Good nutrition together with the right supplements, enables your  body to adjust to the changes at the menopause automatically and keeps your skin and hair soft, minimises aching joints and stiffness, slows the ageing process, controls weight naturally without dieting, maintains libido and helps to prevent osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer. 

Don’t miss this opportunity to come and see Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD, the UK’s leading nutritionist specialising in women’s health. You will find out how to use food, vitamins and minerals to increase your energy, eliminate mood swings, improve your memory, reduce stress and lose weight without dieting.

Dr Marilyn Glenville will be visiting Ireland from October 24th to 26th in Dublin, Galway & Cork.

For more information please visit: https://balanceyourhormonesnaturally.eventbrite.ie   

Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD is the UK’s leading nutritionist specialising in women’s health.  She is the Former President of the Food and Health Forum at the Royal Society of Medicine and the author of a number of internationally bestselling books including Natural Solutions to the Menopause.  Dr Glenville runs clinics in Dublin, Galway, Cork and Kilkenny, for more information see www.glenvillenutrition.ie

Anxiety is one of the most common neurological disorders, affecting 1 in 13 people in Ireland. Anxiety differs from fear in that, while fear is a rational response to a real danger, anxiety usually lacks a clear or realistic cause.

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Feeling anxious occasionally is normal.. people may feel anxious coming up to exams, before getting married, at work sometimes. Though some anxiety is normal and even healthy, higher levels of anxiety are not only uncomfortable but can lead to significant problems.

Anxiety is often accompanied by a variety of symptoms. The most common symptoms are heart palpitations, rapid breathing, breathlessness, sweating, excessive and undue worrying, disturbed sleep, insomnia, muscle tension, headaches, morbid thoughts, hyperventilating, dizziness, digestive disturbances and fear of losing control. In severe anxiety, one may experience panic attacks – intense feelings of fear.

While anxiety is a disorder in its own right, Stress or prolonged stress can be the trigger for the anxiety. Its very difficult to pinpoint the reason one develops anxiety – it may be a death in a family, financial worry, being in an unhappy environment. Whatever the cause, implementing dietary factors that manage stress is useful in reducing the severity of anxiety.

Dietary Recommendations for dealing with Anxiety

Foods to Include:

  • Low GI Foods: Low GI or GL carbohydrates are mainly non-starchy vegetables (root vegetables are considered starchy vegetables), pulses, and lentils, fresh fruit. Foods with a low GI/GL value release their energy slower, avoiding a ‘sharp’ rise in blood sugar levels. Choose: Apples, Berries, Buckwheat, Cherries, hummus, Cinnamon Green tea, Lentils & pulses, Oatbran and flakes, Oatcakes, Pears, Plums, brown bread, cashew nuts, almonds and grapefruit.
  • Complex Carbohydrates: Complex carbs take longer to digest. Your body digests them more slowly so they supply energy at a slower and more sustained rate than refined carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are thought to increase the amount of serotonin in your brain, which has a calming effect. Choose: whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, rye, oats) wholemeal bread, whole-wheat pasta.
  • Omega-3 rich foods: Oily fish provides the most beneficial and active fatty acids, commonly referred to as EPA and DHA. These omega-3 fatty acids are vital for neurological health. Studies show that the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA found in oily fish (sardines, anchovies, mackerel, salmon, tuna and herring) can be uplifting and enhance your mood. The higher your levels of omega-3, the higher your level of serotonin will be. The reason for this is that omega-3 fats help build the brain’s receptor sites for serotonin, the feel good hormone.

Omega-3 also reduces your tendency to depression. A large Norwegian study of nearly 22,000 participants revealed that those who regularly took fish oil, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, were about 30% less likely to have symptoms of depression than those who did not. Omega 3s supports brain, eye, and heart health throughout life. Surprisingly, a massive 89% of Irish people are not consuming sufficient oily fish in their diet, so often there is a need to take a good quality omega-3 fish oil such as Eskimo-3.

  • Protein and Turkey: Protein is the ultimate fill-me-up food – it’s more satisfying than carbohydrates or fats and keeps you feeling full for longer and helps keep blood sugar stable and moods stable. Turkey is a brilliant meat to include as its a source of tryptophan – a precursor to serotonin – the feel good hormone. So be sure to incorporate healthy proteins like turkey, seafood, lean meat, eggs, yogurt, cheese, soy, nuts, or beans into your meals and snacks.
  • Keep Hydrated: Dehydration can cause more than just thirst and dry lips. It can also set the heart racing and make you feel light-headed and dizzy, all sensations that are common during anxiety attacks. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day along with green tea and relaxing herbal teas.

Foods to Avoid:

  • Caffeine: Caffeine should be avoided by anxiety sufferers. Even a small amount of coffee, tea, coke, or anything that contains caffeine can be detrimental because caffeine raises your heart rate contributing to symptoms. Caffeine also inhibits levels of serotonin in the brain, and, when serotonin levels are suppressed, you can become depressed and feel irritable.
  • Refined Carbohydrates and Sugars: refined carbohydrates (sugar and white flour) are known to contribute to problems with blood sugar control, especially hypoglycemia. The association between hypoglycaemia and impaired mental function is well known. Unfortunately, most individuals whom experience anxiety or other mental health issues, are not informed about the importance of  reducing refined carbohydrates and sugars to balanced blood sugar. Avoid white bread, white rice, white pasta, bagels, biscuits, crackers, pancakes, waffles, cakes and pastries, sweets, chocolate and anything containing sugar or sweeteners. Replace with complex carbohydrates as stated above.
  • Alcohol: While alcohol may give you a momentary feeling of happiness, it can also elevate the heart rate just like caffeine, contributing to anxiety symptoms. Also, you can become very low in yourself in the days following.  Avoid alcohol as much as possible.
  • Food Sensitivities: Some people have negative reactions to foods such as gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts or sugar. Reactions can include mood changes, including irritability or anxiety. Do an elimination diet to find out if any of these foods are contributing to your symptoms.
  • Processed Foods: These would include hotdogs, sausages, pies, shop prepackaged cakes, frozen ready meals, prepackaged ham etc. This foods are usually low in nutrients, high in sugar and gluten. Research found that people who eat a diet high in processed foods 58% more chance of suffering with depression than those eating a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables and fish.

Lifestyle Tips:

  • Exercise: According to some studies, regular exercise works as well as medication for some people to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and the effects can be long lasting. Exercise increases endorphins — such as serotonin — that improve mood and may improve sleep quality, which in turn reduces stress. Exercise also helps you to manage stress as it produces a prolonged relaxation response. Do: Exercise for at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week at a minimum. Walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, skating, hiking, aerobic classes are all types of aerobic exercise. Find something you enjoy and Just Do It!
  • Relaxation: Learning effective anxiety relaxation techniques is an important part of coping with stress and anxiety. Try yoga, pilates or meditation to help relax and reduce anxiety.
  • Meditation: Mindfulness meditation has long been known as an antidote for anxiety. in a study, researchers recruited fifteen healthy volunteers with normal levels of everyday anxiety. These individuals had no previous meditation experience or known anxiety disorders. All subjects participated in four 20-minute classes to learn a technique known as mindfulness meditation. In this form of meditation, people are taught to focus on breath and body sensations and to non-judgmentally evaluate distracting thoughts and emotions. Anxiety was significantly reduced in every session that subjects meditated. Louise Hay and Abraham Hicks are two people offering a wide range of great guided meditations online. 

Food Supplements to help manage Anxiety:

  • Eskimo-3: This is a premium food supplement rich in EPA and DHA, the omega-3 fats which are vital for neurological health. The higher your levels of omega-3, the higher your level of serotonin will be. The reason for this is that omega-3 fats help build the brain’s receptor sites for serotonin, the feel good hormone. Omega 3s supports brain, eye, and heart health throughout life. Eskimo-3 has the highest levels of EPA and DHA available in a single serving.  On the market for more than 20 years and with over 120 scientific studies, the Eskimo range represents probably the finest quality fish oil on the market, providing Omega-3 rich oil of legendary purity, freshness & stability. The oil is always from sustainable sources, and there is full traceability and quality control throughout the production process, from the fishing boat to the finished oil.
  • L-Theanine and Lemon Balm: Viridian L-Theanine & Lemon Balm is most commonly used to reduce stress, anxiety, nervousness, restlessness and tension by inducing a more relaxed mental state. L-Theanine is an amino acid which is present in green tea. It acts directly on the brain to induce a sense of calm, which can help you to de-stress. Lemon balm offers similar benefits in that it can induce a sense of calm, reducing stress and anxiety, but interestingly research shows that it does not decrease accuracy.
  • Mag365: Magnesium is a vital nutrient that is often deficient in modern society. It is responsible for over 300 enzymatic functions in the body. Many studies have shown that a deficiency in magnesium contributes to several mental health problems, including anxiety. Magnesium is a calming and relaxing mineral. It regulates the nervous system and may help you cope with stress so as to prevent anxiety, fear, nervousness, restlessness and irritability. Magnesium is also very protective of your heart and arteries, which is important for anyone experiencing regular anxiety. Mag365 is available in a variety of flavours in health food stores nationwide.
  • Multi Vitamin/Mineral Formula: A good multi-vitamin mineral supplement could help safeguard your health. If you are deficient in any one vitamin or mineral, this could be contributing to your anxiety symptoms. By taking a good multi, you can correct all deficiencies, and hopefully positively affect your health.