You have to hand it to Jon Bon Jovi – his Soul Kitchen in NJ is brilliant. I’d love to open one here – maybe in Brighton. The concept is a fab eatery with organic food where possible, those that can pay, pay, and those that can’t can volunteer to work to pay their way. Fabulous. He has a great Soul Foundation as well. Not just a pretty face.
It’s a shocker isnt it or is it? The governments obesity plans are fundementally (give or take a few puffs of air): eat less and exercise more. I find this so naive and appallingly off the mark that you wonder who is running this country. I would go further than Jamie does so please do excuse this rant but its about money, its about money and contacts and business. The government go to bed with so many of the leaders of industry who don’t want to cut their margins on food. Why would they want to completely ban trans fat outright, or high levels of salt, or artificial sweetners or corn syrup when they are swanning around in their stately homes (ooo I’ve gone a bit left wing.. nice one Kate). It’s cheap, they make money, end of story. This year I saw a couple in my clinic, both obese who had never heard of Omega 3, didnt know coffee was a stimulant, had no clue that cheap white bread was probably killing them and were addicted (yes like in cocaine) to junk food. In essence they had no clue that what they ate was making them ill. This should not be happening in 2011. You could get a bit highbrow and say well they are just ignorant and should read more, but thats not the issue – the issue is they didn’t know anything – they saw food as calories to keep themselves alive. They were both in their 50’s so I’ve no idea why they hadn’t picked up the basics – they were bright but I didnt ask. And if I can say this, its not about socio economics – I’ve seen very wealthy people, well educated people who haven’t a clue, and families on housing estates struggling to do their best on little money but with a great knowledge.
As I said before, you do wonder who is running the country. Its digusting and we should all be appalled at the lack of general common sense in this country.
ps the picture of Krave the cereal speaks for itself
Having got back from Greece a fortnight ago, I found the UK in the midst of a heat wave and two weeks later the weather is still glorious. Greece was its usual fabulousness – great food and the sea hot enough to have a good swim. Hit the road running when I came back, with a couple of corporate health days, and here we are again with the monthly newsletter – the time is flying by! This month I’ve decided to look at diagnostic testing, not only what I offer, but what’s on the high street and whether its any good. More and more we are turning to over the counter diagnostic kits to help in giving us a better understanding of our health. It used to be just home blood pressure monitors that were common but there is an array of self help tests. I shopped around a bit and made some interesting conclusions. There’s also a delicious recipe for spicy pumpkin soup. Enjoy!
What testing is available through a nutritionist?
Often, my patients will either require or ask for further testing. This is there to help the diagnostic process and will often bring up areas of health that have not been covered with conventional tests. Approximately 50% of people I see go on to have blood, stool or urine tests, copies of which are sent to their GP if appropriate, for further action. Generally these tests cover more chronic conditions than acute and look at the body in more detail.
Stool testing: these are incredibly popular and after serious conditions are ruled out with colonoscopies and endoscopies etc they prove invaluable at looking at the microbiology of the bowel in more detail. They assess, gut flora levels, yeast infections and lesser known parasites that can particularly help in the diagnosis of Irritable bowel syndrome.
Adrenal function: a 28 day saliva test measuring DHEA and cortisol – useful for diagnosing “burnout” or reasons behind long term fatigue or insomnia.
Hormonal profile: similar to the adrenal function test – a 28 day saliva test thats gives a curve of exactly what your hormones are doing on a day to day basis over a month- really useful for any kind of PMT/PMS/PCOS etc.
Standard blood tests: Full blood count, thyroid, B12, cholesterol: these are standard tests that are done through the GP but can also be done through me.
Functional B vitamins: another very popular test particularly useful for those with mental health disorders/stress anxiety and depression – this measures individual B vitamins i.e. B1, B2, and B6, which are often low in these disorders.
Essential fatty acid profile: invaluable for those with inflammatory disorders, lupus, eczema etc. You can assess your omega 3 and 6 status, and the ratio between the two which is key in inflammation.
Red cell magnesium:- this goes one step further than serum magnesium and looks at what is getting into the cells on a cellular level – I use it when there is cardiac arrythmia and chronic fagtiue- this is often very low in many people.
Vitamin D: essential for the immune system and another test I often run with Chronic fatigue syndromes or those spending more time inside/out of the sun.
Allergy and food intolerance: oddly I don’t use these as often as you would think – I don’t rate food intolerance testing – but will do IgE allergy testing as its rarely available on the NHS – there are a wide range of panels you can do or test one item in particular that you suspect. I find these tests useful in real allergy where someone cannot find what food/drug/plant is causing the problem.
Homocysteine: not readily available on the NHS and very useful in patients who would like to prevent heart disease, strokes, Alzheimer’s etc. Often high in those with heart disease.
If someone wanted to try and prevent osteoporosis I might recommend a panel of tests
eg an osteoporosis, screen, serum mineral profile, essential fatty acids and vitamin D. For ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) I’d recommend B1,B3, B12, folate, EFA’s, serum mineral profile, red cell,magnesium, vitamin C and ferritin. For heart disease: I’d recommend B6, B12, folate, EFA’s, chromium, red cell magnesium. .
From lactose breath tests to CoQ10, you name it, it can be tested! It is also often better to test if you are going to take a supplement on a longer term basis. Whilst I appreciate that not everyone can afford these tests, some of them are much cheaper than you would think. Diagnostic testing starts at about £10 and can go up to several hundred depending on what you need. They are helpful in forming a better picture of exactly how your body is functioning and can aid in speeding up recovery.
What’s available on the High Street?
There are literally hundreds of home testing kits online and on the high street – I had no idea there were so many. These are the most popular:
Blood sugar monitors, Vitamin D profile, Osteoporosis screen, Coeliac screen, Allergy testing, Food intolerance testing, Prostate cancer kit, Stomach ulcer kit, Bowel cancer kit, Blood pressure machines.
In particular I looked at the following:
Boots Cholesterol Test. Price £12.25. It measures the total cholesterol only, so no HDL/LDL. I’m not sure why you wouldn’t see your GP for this. As we now know the ratio between HDL and LDL is so important this test does not give you the complete picture.
Biotech Biocard Coeliac Test. Price £20.42. I think I’d want a consultant or my GP to do this test as it’s a serious disease, needing expert help and support.
Boots Home Bowel Test. Price £12.25. Tests for blood in the stool – so what happens if you find blood, will you definitely go and see your GP (who will only test it again) or will you sit at home too anxious to do anything about the result?
Novagon Menopause Strip. Price: £16.35. I could see the point of this test. However its only useful if you know that you are not going to take HRT. If you have decided you want to try HRT, then you would need to see your GP who would do blood tests anyway.
Boots Pharmaceutical Multi Allergy Test. Price £19.99. This could be useful if you had a mild allergy and wasn’t sure what inhalent it was. Waiting lists are long for referral to allergy specialists – so this might get you some way to finding out what the allergy was- but its a little hit and miss for me.
Boots Blood Glucose Test. Price. £25.29. Failed to tell you that blood sugar is raised after a meal, or ingestion of sugar. I don’t have diabetes and recently tested how high my blood sugar went after eating cake with glucose fructose syrup – it was a high – 12 mmol. If I’d done the test, I would have thought I’d got diabetes. Again not enough information.
Selfcheck Health Test . Price £15.30. Measuring for raised PSA levels for prostate cancer. Does not tell you that they are raised after exercise, sex and a UTI.
There are many self testing kits on the high street and as seen above, some are aimed at conditions as serious as prostate and bowel cancer, stomach ulcers as well as uti, blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Whilst spending some time in various chemists and on line I’ve picked up quite a few and have to say I was a little concerned. Some of the instructions were not that clear to start with, and I’m not sure unless you were well qualified if you would chose the right kit in the first place.
I am also concerned about a false positive result. This may cause fear or anxiety when you may actually be well, or worse a false negative that might actually stop you getting medical help in the first place. Let’s take high cholesterol for instance. This can be linked to heart disease but it can also be a symptom of an under active thyroid – the high street test isn’t going to tell you that, but your GP could. Most of the tests I found were between £5 and £30. The only problem I have is that if you purchase them and they are positive, your GP will ask for the test to be repeated anyway so I’m not really sure the point of most of them.
I’ve never recommended any of my patients to try self test kits. The only two worth their weight in gold are blood pressure machines, (particularly if you have white coat syndrome as many peoples blood pressure while relaxed at home can be lower than in the surgery) and the blood glucose monitor, invaluable for diabetics. I can to a point see how men might find these home kits appealing, particularly with conditions of the prostate but do we really want to be trusting a high street test which will not give us a full picture anyway?
What about back up? You always need someone to talk through the test results with you otherwise you can be left high and dry as to what to do next. So clearly, you can see I’m not a fan of high street tests. Many of my patients have done their cholesterol and the test for coeliac and again I’d only suggest that they get it done properly with a GP anyway.
So in conclusion if you are in any doubt about your health, your GP should always be your first port of call regardless of symptoms and conditions.
Spicy Pumpkin Soup – serves 4
I get even more excited by autumn/winter vegetables than I do with summer salads! I absolutely adore squash but was always put off by the time it took to hack through with a kitchen knife – until I found frozen squash which is already cut up and even cheaper in price. For a really plain version you can simmer the squash in stock with a few sprigs of fresh rosemary. Take the rosemary out after 20 mins and blitz with seasoning. So simple. So delicious.
Ingredients: 1kg squash or pumpkin (or x 2 500g packs of frozen).
25g sunflower seeds, Olive oil, 1 large onion,1 tsp ground coriander,1 tsp chili flakes, 1 litre of vegetable stock and 160ml coconut cream.
Place squash on a baking sheet and bake in an oven 200oC gas mark 6 for 20 mins or until soft. Place seeds on a small tray and bake in oven for 5 minutes. Keep to one side to decorate. Heat olive oil and fry onion, add coriander and chili flakes and fry for a minute. Add the cooked pumpkin to pan, pour in the stock and add the coconut cream. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 mins. Remove from heat and whizz til smooth. Serve with toasted sunflower seeds and hunks of bread.
I adore pigs and although I don’t eat pork that often I do believe the dramatic escalation of industrial pig farming has got to stop NOW. Please go to www.soilassociation.org and click on not in our banger to donate, and support the fight for better pig welfare.
The Soil Association are saying:
No pigs should have their tails chopped off
All pigs should spend at least part of their life outdoors where they can enjoy normal pig behaviour like rooting in the ground
When mother pigs give birth they must be able to follow their instincts to build a nest, not be forced into metal crates which severely restrict their movement
Here are some startling facts about factory farmed pigs
Roughly 9 million pigs are slaughtered every year in the UK – about 1.5% of UK pigs are organic.
98% of UK pigs are fattened (finished) in sheds. 93% of growing pigs and 60% of mother pigs in the UK are kept indoors.
Approximately 80% of UK pigs have their tails cut off (bored and unhappy pigs shut up in sheds will bite the tails of the pigs they are confined with).
Around 55% of sows in the UK give birth while confined in crates, which they remain in until their litter is weaned. At least 35% of pigs reared for meat in the UK are kept in barren systems without any straw bedding.
The largest existing pig factory in the UK that we know about has 1,100 sows.
The average size of large-scale intensive pig farms in the UK is around 500–900 sows. The average pig herd size for all farms in the UK is around 75 sows.
Approximately 92% of pigs are kept on 1,400 pig farms and the rest on some 10,000 small holdings and smaller and mixed farms.
I cannot stick animal cruelty and with it industrialised pig factories. We don’t have to get like the US if we campaign now. The Midland Pig Producers have resubmitted a plan for an indoor pig factory for 2,500 mother pigs (sows) and around 20,000 piglets, with 1,000 pigs going for slaughter each week. Just thinking about it makes me sick to my stomach and I hope it does to you too!
This months newsletter is on diagnostic testing, not only what I do, but whats out there in the high street. A very popular topic – out next week. To sign up for my newsletter go to my homepage on www.katearnoldnutrition.co.uk
It’s the one subject I’ve been putting off for a while because its so huge and I cant really cover in a “news” letter but it’s the second most asked for health topic behind IBS so here we are (men look away now!) – its Premenstrual Syndrome (aka PMS or PMT). Over the last fifty years there have been marked changes in dietary and social habits, increased consumption of sugar, alcohol, dairy produce, saturated fat and alcohol and a lower intake of magnesium and essential fats. Many more women now smoke than they did and many of these changes have played a part in the increase of PMS in western society.
For those men who read this newsletter you may well know of someone who suffers anyway so might find this quite useful. When the partner of a PMS sufferer joins in my consultation I often gain far more information, particularly when it comes to mood changes! Good nutrition can make a huge difference to the sufferer of PMS so I’ve highlighted some basic tips, although it’s always best to have a one to one consultation for a more tailored approach!
I’m off again to Greece next week and will be looking for new recipes to share. Another huge thank you to everyone for your great feedback regarding these monthly epistles – I seem to be hitting the right tone, although do note that you would like more recipe ideas!
If you would like a free 5 minute chat about your PMS concerns, please contact me on
Pre Menstrual Syndrome – the background
An astonishing 5% of the female population have PMS symptoms so severe as to be inactivating and 3 – 4% report symptoms severe enough to interfere with their day to day lives. The women I see in my clinic suffer from mild PMS to those who have only a couple of days a month with no symptoms. Seventy five per cent who have embraced diet change (and that may include supplements) have reported a remarkable reduction of most of their symptoms. This shows the importance of good nutrition in all health conditions.
For many years PMS was dismissed as a psychological problem, but we now know that this is a physically based problem although it is still far from clear what causes all the symptoms. It is possible of course that there is more than one cause of PMS and that there may be different causes of symptoms in different people. One of the main reasons for PMS may be hormonal imbalance, excessive levels of oestrogen and inadequate levels of progesterone as well as a sensitivity to fluctuating hormones. Diet may be an important contributing factor for some women. Unstable blood sugar levels are an important factor as well. PMS as also been linked to food allergies, changes in carbohydrate metabolism and hypoglycaemia. Other suspected cause of PMS symptoms include erratic levels of beta endorphins (a narcotic like substance produced by the body) vitamin and or mineral deficiencies and an inability to metabolise fatty acids. All of these may play a part in PMS.
Symptoms of PMS
The most common symptoms were categorized by Dr Guy Abraham, a research gynaecologist who was at the forefront of nutrition research in relation to PMS. He and his colleagues sudivided PMT into the following categories:
PMT-A – anxiety, irritability, nervous tension and mood swings
PMT-B – weight gain, swelling of the extremities, breast tenderness and abdominal swelling
PMT-D – depression, crying, confusion and insomnia
There are officially nearly 200 PMS symptoms – these are a few of them: Abdominal bloating, acne, depression, backache, breast swelling, cramps, food cravings, fainting spells, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, joint pain, nervousness, water retention, personality changes such as drastic mood swings outbursts of anger, violence and sometimes even thoughts of suicide, heart palpitations, activation of the herpes virus, hives, insomnia, aggression, oedema, weight gain, salt cravings, sore throat, sweet cravings, back pain, and bruising. That’s quite a list – no wonder some women feel so bad.
The disorder usually affects women one to two weeks before menstruation, however symptoms can be so prolonged that some women only have a couple of day per month when they are symptom free.
New family consultation service – click here for more details
Factors that may contribute to PMS
High consumption of dairy products.
A deficiency in magnesium. Chocolate cravings have been linked to low magnesium levels. Also alcohol and caffeine have been shown to increase urinary excretion of magnesium. The liver needs magnesium along with B vitamins to metabolise oestrogen optimally.
Excessive consumption of caffeine, in the form of soft drinks, coffee or chocolate.
Excessive consumption of refined sugar and not enough whole grains and vegetables.
High blood oestrogen levels resulting from either overproduction from dietary and body fat or from the decreased breakdown in the liver. High oestrogen levels are associated with deficiencies of vitamin B complex especially B6 and B12. The liver requires these vitamins to break down and inactivate oestrogen.
A low level of progesterone, the hormone that works to balance excess oestrogen.
Excessive consumption of animal fat which leads to the increased levels of the hormone prostaglandin F2. Interestingly vegetarians who consume a low fat, high fibre diet are known to excrete two to three times more oestrogen in their faeces than non vegetarians.
It is increasingly common for me to see younger and younger girls who are binge drinking and eating a very low nutrient rich diet, who are already suffering from bad PMS. As genetics dont change that fast in a generation, it could certainly be down to the bad diet and lack of exercise that is causing many of the problems we see today. However for those tricky conditions that do not respond well enough to diet and lifestyle changes, there are many contraceptive pills/devices, targeted medication, anti-depressants, diuretics etc so please do not suffer in silence thinking nothing can be done.
Need help in choosing the correct supplements for your health issues? Call 01323 737814
Supplements that may help reduce symptoms
(as per all my newsletters please do not self medicate without proper advice!)
Acidophilus – helps break down metabolites of oestrogen.
Flaxseed oil – essential fatty acids are important in relieving symptoms and aiding in proper glandular function.
Calcium and magnesium – studies have shown that calcium and magnesium supplements may reduce many symptoms of PMS by as much as 30%.
Vitamin B – may help reduce stress and needed for the adrenal gland, help reduce water retention and increase oxygen flow. Also aids in restoring oestrogen levels to normal.
Vitamin E– good for breast tenderness and general PMS symptoms.
Kate’s Diet Tips
Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrain cereals, beans, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds.
Eat high protein snacks between meals.
Include high complex carbohydrates and a diet rich in fibre. These can help the bodyto get rid of excess stores if high oestrogen is the problem.
Avoid salt, red meat, processed food and junk foods. Eliminating salt is especially important for preventing bloating.
Eat fewer dairy products which can block the absorption of magnesium.
Avoid caffeine – it can make you anxious and jittery and also acts as a diuretic and can deplete important nutrients. (Studies have shown that women who regularly consume caffeine are four times more likely than others to have severe PMS).
Although controversial try and choose free range or organic meat, poultry, cheese and eggs.
Try to avoid alcohol the week before your symptoms start.
Get regular exercise – exercise has been proven to keep hormone levels more stable.
Any anti stress technique may be of great help eg yoga and meditation.
Ask your GP to rule out an under active thyroid or other conditions like endometriosis if symptoms are really bad.
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Had a lovely but very quick dash to Greece again, but timed it to fit in nicely with the UK heatwave – oh dear never mind. I got to eat great food and swim in warm sea! This months newsletter out in about ten days will be on all the testing available that we nutrition people do. I don’t think many of you realise whats out there – tests that can certainly help with diagnosis. Thank you as always for your wonderful testimonials and comments and I look forward to working with you this autumn. x