Antioxidants are our friends. They are dietary substances including some nutrients such as Beta carotene
, Vitamin C
and Vitamin E
, and Selenium
, that can prevent damage to your body cells or repair damage that has been done. Antioxidants are the knights in shining armour that subjugate the attack of free radicals in the body, the hazardous molecules that damage cells and procure aging and disease. Though antioxidants are produced naturally in the body, these decline with age, hence there is an increasing need to acquire them from the foods in our diet.Sources
: Fruits and vegetables.
Beta-carotene is what gives yellow and orange fruit and vegetables their colour. Beta-carotene is turned into Vitamin A in the body and, therefore, can perform the same functions in the body as vitamin A.
Sources: yellow and green (leafy) vegetables such as spinach, carrots and red peppers, and yellow fruit such as mango, melon and apricots.
Calcium has a number of important functions: It helps build strong bones and teeth, it regulates muscle contraction, including the heartbeat and makes sure blood clots normally. It's thought that calcium may help to lower high blood pressure and may help to protect against colon and breast cancer, although more evidence is needed to confirm this. Adults need 700 mg a day.
Sources: milk, cheese and other dairy foods, green leafy vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage and okra, but not spinach), soya beans, tofu, soya drinks with added calcium, nuts, bread and anything made with fortified flour, and fish where you eat the bones, such as sardines and pilchards.
Dates are not only a great source of fibre
they are also excellent sources of most B vitamins
, folic acid
(they contain more potassium than a banana – pound for pound)
From the fruit of the date palm they contain an good source of dietary fibre called beta-d-glucan which can help lower cholesterol. This type of good fibre also helps to slow down the release of the fruit sugars (mainly glucose or fructose) and also an good choice for a laxative as they are able to hold water. Dates are an excellent substitute for sugar as they can be soften with water or juice and used in baking or just added to cereals etc. High in Carbohydrates eating a couple before a work-out can give you a good boost of energy without all the high calories!
Folic acid, known as folate in its natural form, is one of the B-group of vitamins. It works together with vitamin B12 to form healthy red blood cells and helps reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida in unborn babies. Amount: Folate is a water-soluble vitamin, which means you need it in your diet every day because it can't be stored in the body. Adults need 0.2 mg a day.
Sources: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, peas, chickpeas and brown rice. Other useful sources include fortified breakfast cereals, some bread and some fruit (such as oranges and bananas).
Glutathione is the most abundant antioxidant in the body. Made up from 3 amino acids Cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine its main purpose is for detoxification. Glutathione helps the body eliminate toxins in the liver and make them more water soluble to allow the excretion via the kidney’s. This combination of free radical scavenger and its role in detoxification makes it one of the most important nutrients for protection against cancer. We use up glutathione rapidly when exposed to toxins such as smoking (that’s they look more wrinkled), pesticides, alcohol, heavy metals etc. Taking glutathione as a supplement will not work as it is broken down in the body and not made up on the other side for use in our detoxification pathways. Therefore precursors to glutathione have to be taken such as NAC (N-acetylcysteinie), methionine, glutamine, Whey protein. Vitamin C also helps to raise the levels as it stimulates the body to manufacture it.
Sources: asparagus, walnuts, avocado and other fresh fruits and vegetables.
Dietary iodine is an essential nutrient needed for the production of the thyroid hormones T4 and T3. The thyroid gland adds the amino acid tyrosine to create the thyroid hormones which are needed for metabolism. A goiter (swelling of the thyroid gland) is a condition related to low iodine status but also the result of the ingestion of foods that can block iodine use (known as goitrogens) such as cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, soya beans, peanuts, millet etc. Cooking can inactivate the goitrogens. 80% of our dietary intake of iodine is used up by the thyroid gland. Other tissues that depend on iodine are the breast and ovary tissue so any issues here can warrant an iodine loading test.
The WHO (world health organization) reference range is 90mcg for children under 5years, 120mcg for children 6-12 years old and 150mcg for adults but increasing to 200mcg for pregnant and lactating women. The WHO also advise that 2 billion people worldwide (inc school children) are deficient in this nutrient.Sources
: Seafood and kelp (a type of seaweed) is the most natural source, taking iodine as a supplement maybe needed as a result of a low iodine status picked up on an iodine loading test.
Kidney stones are said to be one of the most painful experiences we can have. Usually composed of calcium salts (most common but there can be other causes) which can be associated with the western type of diet in its high refined carbohydrate
, high amount of animal protein
, high fats
, low magnesium
with higher intakes of calcium
True vegetarians (ones who eat vegetables, legumes, lentils etc) have shown to have a lower risk of producing stones. By increasing vegetables (particularly green leaf high in Vitamin K
), beans/pulses and a reduction in animal produce may help in the reduction of stone formation. Supplements made from citrates may also reduce stone formation along with B6
, reduction in salt
and the typical western diet may all help. Before supplementing your diet always take advice.
Magnesium is a macro mineral (a mineral needed in large amounts) found in all natural foods. Needed for 100’s of metabolic functions, most of it found in bones then in the muscle tissue. We need magnesium for strong bones, muscles, hormonal health, blood sugar balancing, detoxifying, growth, energy and for lots more. It is not surprising that we can become deficient in this essential mineral. Our natural foods have provided us with good levels of magnesium. Unfortunately lost or depleted by modern day lifestyles and foods such as sugar, fizzy drinks, stress, high calcium diets (or supplements), alcohol, smoking, excess sodium (salt) etc, all of them deplete magnesium.
Sources: Good values in foods include dark green leaf veg, lentils, sesame seeds, almonds, brazil nuts, chick peas, cocoa, whelks and even our water is a source.
The nightshade family food group contains a group of compounds known as alkaloids
which are said to affect some people. In particular they can increase inflammation so for anyone with joint pains, adding a lot of these types of foods can be an aggravating factor. They all have health benefits but when dealing with the nervous system or inflammation it maybe best to reduce or avoid to see if they reduce your symptoms.Sources
: The Nightshade family includes tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, potato to name the main ones with also some spices such as paprika and cayenne also from the same family.
Potassium is a mineral found in most types of food. It controls the balance of fluids in the body and may also help lower blood pressure. Adults need 3500 mg a day.
Sources: fruit (such as bananas), vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds, milk, fish, shellfish, beef, chicken, turkey and bread.
Red wine is high in polyphenols
which are compounds in plants that offer us antioxidant
protection. Plants have these polyphenols for their own protection from injury and bacteria attack. Therefore plant foods can offer us the same protection. Polyphenols give plants their colour, red and purple grapes are high in polyphenols and are said to offer us good protection. Red grape juice can also offer us protection but the sugars in the grapes may reduce the absorption. Enjoying a small glass of red wine may have other health benefits on heart protection and cardiovascular diseases. However drinking alcohol to excess comes with its obvious dangers so as with all things 'everything in moderation' may off us the health benefits.Sources
: Resveratrol is a polyphenols found in higher amount in grape skins, therefore white wine does not offer the same protection.
It is an amino acid
need for many functions including blood pressure control, alertness and mood but we also know that it is the raw material needed to make certain hormones in the body such as thyroxine, dopamine and adrenaline. This makes it an extremely important amino acid in the health of the thyroid and the adrenal glands.
: Found in foods such as cheese, eggs, fish, meat, oats (and more). Tyrosine is made in the body from another amino acid called phenylalanine, this makes tyrosine a 'non essential amino acid' as it can be make in the body but phenylalanine is an 'essential amino' acid as it is not made in the body and must come from foods such as cheese, sunflower seeds, oats (and more). Tyrosine is needed to make thyroxine (the thyroid hormone) so therefore it is an important amino acid for our metabolism.
Vitamin C, also know as ascorbic acid. It helps protect cells and keeps them healthy and it helps the body absorb iron from food. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means you need it in your diet every day because it can't be stored in the body. Adults need 40 mg a day.Sources
: peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, oranges and kiwi fruit.
Water – the simplicity of fresh water can never be underestimated. It is needed to flush through our kidneys, it's also needed for our internal rivers (blood and lymph).
Dehydration can cause many symptoms in the body such as fatigue, irritability, joint stiffness, aggression, dry skin and much more. If you are drinking coffee, tea, alcohol or fizzy drinks you will be dehydrating your cells. You need fresh water each day, the more of these other drinks you consume the more you will need water. If you are drinking fresh juices, herbal teas and not taking dehydrating drinks then you may need a little less. Or if you sweat a lot then your need for more water is greater.
Most people need a good 8 glasses per day or 1.5 – 2 litres per day.
However, do not over do the water, if you are thirsty despite drinking lots then speak with your gp re a sugar level test or have your nutrient levels checked out.
Zinc is needed for many enzyme processes in the body, but it is a nutrient that is so prone to being lost in the body due to our lifestyle. Zinc has more enzymatic reactions in our body than any other mineral, but our western diet and lifestyle can deplete this micro mineral. Sugar, alcohol, smoking, stress, etc., can all affect our zinc levels.
If you have poor wound healing, low immunity, blood sugar issues, slow hair and nail growth, low sperm count, prostate problems, low or no taste and smell you may want to review your diet and lifestyle. You may also need to supplement with zinc but always take advice before taking a supplement in isolation for longer time.
Sources: Reduce the practices that can decrease your levels and increase your foods such as nuts, seeds, whole grains, oysters (not many people would eat these but they are the highest of all foods), are some of the best sources to increase our levels.
Apples may sound like a basic fruit we find in abundance but basic it is not when we look at the nutritional contents. Not only high in Vitamin C and potassium, it has good levels of phytochemicals (chemicals from plants) and flavanoids such as quercetin.
The soluble fibre called pectin is found in the cell wall of the apple, resistant to digestion which helps in regulation of bowels and helps to lower cholesterol.
Broccoli is part of the cruciferous (cabbage) family of vegetables. Rich in Vitamin C
, Vitamin A
, Folic Acid
, and Vitamin K
, it is also a great source of fibre
. One of the most potent compound is broccoli is glucosinolates in particular indole-3-carbinol and sulphoraphane which are known to help with cancer protection particularly the oestrogen types (breast, ovaries, prostate). The indole-3-carbinol also helps the liver to detoxify many toxic compounds. Another compound called lutein which is an antioxidant from the carotenoid family which is known to be helpful in preventing the development of age-related macular degeneration.
Eating a few florets raw or slightly steamed will ensure the best benefits, however if suffering from a goitre (swelling of the thyroid gland) then it is always advised to cook broccoli well to reduce the activity of the dietary goitrogens as these can interfere with the functioning of the thyroid.
Carotenes are a group of pigments that are fat soluble. Carotenes play a huge role in protecting us from free radicals due to the antioxidant properties; they are converted to Vitamin A
and alpha-carotene) in the liver when needed. The antioxidant
activity of lutein and lycopene are supportive in the health of the eye (that’s why carrots are said to help us to see in the dark). By incorporating a highly coloured mix of vegetables and fruits into the diet you can at least ensure a wide variety of these compounds to give us optimum health.Sources
: Carotenes are found in all plant foods, even green plants. We find the highest value in the orange fruits and veggies such as carrots, apricots, mangoes, squash, and sweet potatoes. Carotenes are also found in other foods such as grains, egg yolks, salmon and much more.
Eggs are a ‘top’ nutritional food. For years we have been scared to eat too many eggs due to the cholesterol myth or the salmonella scares from years back. The purpose of the egg is to bring new life and to nourish life until it can nourish itself. This is the reason why the egg has such incredible nutritional values.
Eggs are not only a great source of protein (about 6 g per large egg), but they also contain good sources of B Vitamins
, Vitamin K
, Vitamin D
(particularly omega 3 fatty acids if the chickens have been fed on flax seeds and greens). Eggs have a high level of the steroid called cholesterol which has basically frightened people off from eating them but the cholesterol in eggs has shown that they can actually raise our HDL which is the good guy cholesterol needed for healthy cardiovascular functioning. They also contain high levels of Choline
(which is part of the family of B vitamins) eggs can be eaten for its brain boosting power as this vitamins is a key component of many fat – containing structures in cell membranes (particularly in the brain). Good for the development of the brain in pregnancy and also to help us with age related memory loss in later life. At last new research has confirmed what we have been saying for some time, that eggs are safe and do not contribute to the cholesterol problems we are experiencing today. For more information go to the dailymail article.
Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that can bind to and destroy cellular compounds. We produce more free radicals in the body than taken in from the environment. In the body are toxic forms of oxygen molecules, these are produced by our own metabolism. The body is designed to protect us from free radicals by way of enzymes. From the environment free radicals are produced from cigarette smoking (some of the worst free radicals produced), alcohol, pesticides, fried and barbecued foods, cleaning products and much more (a good reason to reduce these in our homes and diet).Sources
: To protect us from free radicals we must supply the body with a good supply of anti oxidants from fresh fruits, vegetables, green teas, red grapes and in small amounts red wine.
Homocysteine is an excellent marker for not only cardiovascular disease but also for brain function, increased inflammation and more. Homocysteine is an amino acid (which is a building block of protein) which we would normally find in the blood. Whilst we will always find homocysteine naturally in the body, too high levels are now showing to be raising the risk for these diseases.
Eating a diet high in whole grains and vegetables can increase your levels of folic acid, B6 and B12 which are all needed to keep the levels of homocysteine in safe levels. If you know you are at risk of heart disease or anyone in the family has a history of heart disease then you may need to consider getting these levels checked as simple changes to your diet can make a huge difference.
Sources: It is made from another amino acid called methionine (meat and cheese are high in methionine) But in recent years it appears that it maybe just as important to measure as we do cholesterol to assess our risk of heart diseases and strokes, and also other diseases such as cancers and Alzheimer’s to name others.
Juicing is probably one of the easiest ways to give ourselves a health kick. Juicing fresh vegetables and fruits eliminates the fibre to allow for the quicker absorption of nutrients. Not only will you boost your nutrient levels you will also bring a high level of enzymes which are needed for all cell metabolism, clearing of unwanted wastes and water from the body. Juicing can be beneficial for all of us, it can rest the digestive system, bring clarity to our minds and help us kick start weight loss if needed.
A one day vegetable juice fast can be so uplifting particularly after a time of plenty of food such as Christmas. You will feel energised, uplifted and lighter
after a 1 day juice fast, you could continue for a further 2-3 days but anything longer you may need to take advice. If you are diabetic then never juice fast without taking advice first.
Legumes are eaten by many cultures around the globe. Highly nutritious (very underrated), they provide calories and also protein. Helpful in bowel regularity and to help lower cholesterol, adding some legumes to your diet are a wise choice. Cooking them well can help to reduce the bloating some people get off them or adding a strip of kombu (a seaweed) to the cooking of the beans will also help to digest them.Source
: A true vegetarian will include all forms of legumes in the diet which include beans (kidney bean, pinto beans, soya beans, peas, lentils etc) High in fibre, they also contain B vitamins
, folic acid
all needed for optimum health. Although not known as a ‘complete’ protein, legumes can be made complete by adding in a grain such as brown rice.
Manganese is a trace element found in a variety of foods. It helps make and activate some of the enzymes in the body.
Sources: These include bread, nuts, cereals and green vegetables (such as peas and runner beans). It's also found in tea, which is probably the biggest source of manganese for many people.
Oils and fats are probably the most feared of all the food groups. We need fats for immunity, brain health, for mobility, skin health, energy and much more.
Being fat free is not good for health long term but we need our essential fats from foods (omega 3, 6 and 9) essential means we cannot manufacture them and must have them from the diet. When looking for oils, always make sure you look for dark green or brown glass bottles, look for cold pressed fresh oils as much as possible. Cooking with oils is not recommended unless your use a little avocado or coconut for the higher temperature cooking. Olive oils and flax oils should ideally be poured over salads or made into dressing and not be heated in particular flax oil as this is very unstable, Olive oil can sustain a little heat but not too hot.
Sources: Oily fish, olive oil, flax oil, flax seeds, nuts, avocado, coconut are all healthy foods we find our essential fats from.
It is known as a flavanol
which is a subgroup of a large class of molecules called phenols
. Quercetin is known to be a powerful antioxidant
(protects your cells from oxidation damage), it helps to support allergies by reducing the release of histamine from the mast cells, and can help reduce inflammation. Eating a high level of these foods may help in your season allergies, supplementation can be used to help support allergies but always take advice.Sources
: Quercetin is found in many foods but significantly higher in onions, garlic, apples, buckwheat, blueberries, blackberries, grapes, red wine cranberries and broccoli.
It's a micro nutrient mineral which means we need it but in smaller amounts than that of macro minerals such as calcium
for example. It is a potent antioxidant
which is said to give us a protection from cancer cells. It is needed by our immune system cells to fight infections and to protect us from rogue cells. It also helps to recycle other antioxidants in the body such as glutathione. Low selenium has been linked to cancers, thyroid problems and much more. Always take advice before supplementing your diet with selenium as taking the above foods will also increase your selenium intake and taking over 400mcg from all sources should be avoided.
: Toxic in high doses taking supplements should never exceed 200mcg, and always remember if you eat a healthy diet you may getting good sources from seeds nuts, brown rice, oats and much more.
Vitamin A is also known as retinol
. It helps maintain the health of skin and mucus linings (in the nose for example), helps strengthen immunity from infections and helps vision in dim light. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means you don't need it every day because any of the vitamin your body doesn't need immediately is stored for future use. 0.7 mg a day for men and 0.6 mg a day for women.Sources
: cheese, eggs, oily fish (such as mackerel), milk, fortified margarine and yoghurt. Liver is also a rich source of vitamin A, but, because it's such a rich source, if you already eat it every week, you might want to choose not to have it more often.
Vitamin U (for ulcer) has shown to be helpful in gastric problems such as heartburn and acid reflux but lots of evidence shows that it may help to heal gastric ulcers. Cabbage juice has been used for centuries for its healing properties.Sources
: Found in cabbage.
Yeast overgrowth / infections are common place due to our lifestyles and for some people the use of medical drugs such as those that alter our gut ecology in the intestinal tract such as antibiotics.
We all have yeast, parasites and other bacteria within us. We have co-evolved to keep our immune system in check. However, once we have altered our gut bacteria (such as after a course of antibiotics) we can find that the yeasts can proliferate and get out of hand. If this develops too rapidly then you can find that they can damage the mucosal surface on the gut wall and end up in the blood stream which may give systemic symptoms such as joint pains, low energy, brain fog, irritability etc. Other symptoms can include bloating, constipation, thrush and much more.Many people think that going on an ‘anti-candida’ diet can stop yeast overgrowth but this does not kill off anything
, the only person who is starved out is ‘you’. Antimicrobials are useful along side a reduction in foods to affect the immune system such as sugar
is a wise choice - But always seek advice before treating this condition.