Tag Archive: health

  1. Judging people’s health by their looks

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    Following on from a recent article in the Daily Mail, it is fair to say that we judge people to be healthy if they look good on the outside. However the outer beauty whether faked or real rarely hides or makes up for what is really going on inside the body.

    An example of this arrived at my door last year – a family of four all came to me for a complete health MOT – a few basic blood tests, cholesterol, thyroid, full blood count, diet etc. On sight they were the healthiest four people I had seen in a long time – very good looking, great skin, good hair, sparkling eyes, great BMI’s, all with no health problems. Alarmingly the parents blood tests came back and all was not well. The father had dangerously raised cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and his homocysteine was the highest I had seen for a while – it seemed he was a walking time bomb. The mother came back as having an underactive thyroid, low B12 and anaemia and also raised cholesterol. What was concerning was that they displayed no symptoms whatsoever. Even with anaemia the mother looked well. This just goes to show that you just cannot judge the inside by the outside.

    I think it’s even more relevant today with botox, hair extensions, whitened teeth, fake tan – its not difficult to make ourselves look better but do remember that it is fake, and will never reflect the rising liver damage or hardened arteries inside us!

  2. Lorenzo’s oil revisited

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    In 1992 I watched the film Lorenzo’s Oil and found it moving and encouraging. Last night I watched it again and found it to be an astonishing piece of filmmaking. The sheer will and spirit of Lorenzo’s parents up against pretty much everyone has got to leave you feeling empowered.

    For those of you who havent seen the film it is based on the true story of Augusto and Michaela Odone, two parents in a relentless search for a cure for their son Lorenzo’s adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD). Failing to find a doctor capable of treating their young son Lorenzo’s rare disease, Augusto and Michaela Odone sought their own cure. They set out on a mission to find a treatment to save their child. In their quest, the Odones clashed with doctors, scientists, and support groups, who were skeptical that anything could be done about ALD, much less by laypeople. But they persisted, setting up camp in medical libraries, reviewing animal experiments, badgering researchers, questioning top doctors all over the world, and even organizing an international symposium.

    Lorenzo’s oil is a 4:1 mixture of glycerol trioleate and glycerol trierucate (the triglyceride forms of oleic and erucic acid), prepared from olive oil and rapeseed oil. It is used in the investigational treatment of asymptomatic patients of adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD). Augusto received U.S. Patent No. 5,331,009 for the oil. The royalties he now receives are paid to the Myelin Project which he and Michaela founded to further research treatments for ALD and similar disorders.

    Sadly, Lorenzo Odone died on May 30, 2008, after suffering from aspiration pneumonia caused by food getting stuck in his lungs, but survived 20 years more than expected.

    If there is anything to be taken from the film it is this. The will to survive can be greater than anyone can anticipate and it doesn’t matter what cures your ailment, a conventional or alternative approach, just as long as it does work.

  3. Brainwashing through marketing

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    As I often do, I got into a long discussion the other evening about branding and marketing. What was clear on going through the foods most marketed is how the british breakfast has changed. Gone are the eggs on toast and more and more people are being targeted to eat sugary cereals. As I told one patient the other day, look at what is not being marketed and that is what you need to eat. When was the last time you saw an advert for scrambled eggs on toast? Well of course you never have as it’s near impossible to brand or market eggs.

    The hot topic food products discussed were probiotic yoghurts and drinks, cereals, fast food chains and so called beneficial margarines. There is a kind of brainwashing going on which people need to wake up to. Going to work on a sugar-based cereal will not fill you up, protein fills you up. Eating a snack bar mid morning will not make you lose weight because it is full of sugar, and will leave you starving. A probiotic yoghurt is so low in good bacteria that it will not magically make your IBS disappear. Apart from anything these products are expensive. A large bag of jumbo oats lasts twice as long as a packet of cereal.

    GPs are still shocked when I tell my patients that a scrape of organic butter will not kill you. Fat is not the enemy remember. During the recession the media kept banging on about the second world war which frankly I found quite irritating but diet-wise they had it spot on. Hardly any sugar was eaten and of course processed foods had barely got off the ground. Butter was eaten and exercise was taken.

    Just stop a minute when you are next shopping and ask yourself what is it that you are buying, and is it really good for your health or has someone told you it is so……

  4. How to successfully lose weight without dieting

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    Over the last twelve years, hundreds of people have come through my doors wanting to lose weight. I have listened to their stories of weight loss programmes, fad diets, shakes, weightwatchers, soup diets, lighterlife, slimming world, starving and binging. In the end it comes down to treating the individual in a way that looks at their particular lifestyle, health issues and metabolism. There are the lucky few that do lose a lot of weight on fad diets, but the majority pile it back on and the sense of failure only succeeds in worsening self esteem.

    Isn’t it better to completely forget the word diet, and go for a more upbeat phrase like “lifestyle change”. This implies you are in it for the long haul and more importantly, it has to be achieveable. You should never feel hungry or get cravings, your body should be well and vital. Your nutrient intake should be high and the quality of your food the best you can afford.

    Earlier this year a woman came to see me and started crying when she told me that her friend had lost 3 stone doing a shake diet and she hadn’t lost anything. She couldn’t maintain the 500 calorie a day programme, she felt ill and faint but more importantly she felt a failure. I assured her that it was a near impossible feat to live off that fewer calories when she had bad blood sugar control and a very stressful life. Nearly three months on, she has lost two stone with me and is amazed at how much food she is eating. Here’s what she has to say:

    “Since January Kate has asked me to eat five times a day combining protein with carbohydrate. I have never felt so full, but not in a bad way. She also put me on probiotics which has sorted out my bloating so my stomach feels flatter. What I have noticed apart from the weight loss and which I’m actually more pleased about is far greater energy and enthusiasm with life. I don’t get crashes in blood sugar any more, my headaches have cleared up and my whole attitude to food has changed. I was also really confused about food labelling and foods marketed for weight loss. Kate and I had an hysterical hour in Sainsburys as she took me around and really opened my eyes as to what to eat – it was a lot of fun and I learned so much. Whereas before it would be bottom of my list of priorities, I now go without other things so I can put my family’s health first. Our weekly food shop has completely changed. At first I was scared that it would cost so much more, but actually its about the same. As Kate told me when I saw her its a lifestyle change not something that lasts a couple of months and I’m so grateful that at last I have something that is achievable to do for not only myself but my family” .

  5. Food neurosis

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    Sadly more and more often I am seeing clients who come to me with what I term as “food neurosis”. I will take the example of a 34 yr old woman (let’s call her Jane) who came to see me late last year. She had IBS, and no one had been able to help her. She had been through endoscopies, colonoscopies, barium x-rays, drugs, hypnotherapy etc and got precisely nowhere. During this time, which was about a year she had become more and more anxious about what she was eating – eliminating more and more food groups until she was barely eating anything. She had convinced herself that she was allergic to nearly everything: red meat; wheat; gluten; yeast; all dairy foods; too much carbohydrate. She had diagnosed herself as having candida (a yeast infection that can occur in the vagina, mouth and bowel). She had read a book that said she couldn’t eat fruit, or nuts (as they had mould on). She was literally eating ricecakes with some foul nut butter on, water, vegetables, chicken and rice.

    It took a long time to convince this girl that she had it all wrong. So often people with food neurosis blame allergy/intolerance for their symptoms. She agreed to a stool test with me and in fact she had 3 parasites which responded really well to antibiotics. Her IBS went, she went on a course of probiotics. I then convinced her she wasn’t allergic to gluten or cows milk by doing a coeliac and lactose tolerance blood test – both were negative. She is now eating pretty much anything she wants. She still doesn’t eat red meat and avoids cows milk, but the variety of her daily diet has increased substantially. She began to enjoy her food and realise that it was not the enemy and freely admits now that she had become totally neurotic.

    It is vital to enjoy your food. It’s one of life’s amazing pleasures. The 80/20 rule pretty much works for everyone, i.e. 20% you eat what you want, and 80% you eat well. Do not eliminate large groups of food unless you have proof that they are definitely the cause of your problem. Food neurotics become boring. You can’t invite them round to dinner and you can’t go out to dinner with them!!

    Having said that I am genuinely lactose intolerant, and allergic to msg and mushrooms so I find dining out hard however it doesn’t stop me going out to eat – I find my way around those menus somehow!

  6. Nutrition myths debunked

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    Taken from this month’s newsletter, just out – to subscribe and receive the newsletter, click here.

    Scrambled eggs on toast1. A cooked breakfast is bad for you.
    Scrambled eggs on toast is a wonderful way to start the day rather than a sugary based cereal. Hold back on the fried bread and sausage though. A protein breakfast will leave you feeling fuller longer and keep your blood sugar levels stable until lunch and stop the urge to snack on sweet foods.

    2. Fat makes you fat/all fat is bad.
    This is the strongest held myth still talked about today. It’s a long-held nutrition myth that all fats are bad. But the fact is, we all need fat. It helps with the absorption of nutrients, nerve transmission, and helps to maintain cell membrane integrity. However, when consumed in excessive amounts, fats contribute to weight gain, heart disease and certain types of cancers. However not all fats are the same. Some fats can actually help promote good health. The key is to replace bad fats (saturated fats and trans fats) with good fats (monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats). It doesn’t make you fat either! When you eat fat, your body has to break it down into building blocks and then its absorbed. The fat you have in your body is not the same as  you eat. In fact, the fat naturally found in whole foods is fat you actually need for your body to function properly. Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) are a type of fat that you need to eat. This is why they are called essential. Your body cannot make them, so you must get them from food. Every cell in your body is partly made up of these EFA’s. To breathe, to have your heart beat, to run, walk, think, to make hormones, to remember anything, you need essential fatty acids. If you don’t have them in the food you eat, your body will not function properly, and the only place you can find them is in food that has naturally occurring fat e.g. oily fish, nuts and seeds etc. So if you try and cut fat out of your body, you will actually be causing harm and not really be doing anything to get rid of the fat already in your body.

    So if fat doesn’t make you fat – what does? The answer is sugar and refined carbohydrates. You have a relatively set amount of fat cells in your body. It is just a matter of how big those cells are. Sugar affects the size of your fat cells. This is because glucose is stored in your fat cells, and there is a “gate” that controls the movement of sugar in and out of your fat cells.  The key to this gate is insulin. Insulin is the key that opens the gate to the fat cells and allows excess glucose in the blood to go into the fat cells. So if you never eat anything that raises your blood sugar levels beyond normal, your body will not release insulin, and you will not get bigger fat cells. The body releases insulin to lower blood sugar levels that are too high. So sugar and refined carbohydrates are actually the largest contributing factor to why people are overweight. The ironic part of all of this, is that low fat foods usually have added sugar.

    Brown sugar3. Brown sugar is better than white sugar.
    The brown sugar sold in stores is usually white granulated sugar with added molasses. Even though it does contain minute amounts of minerals., you would need to eat a large portion of brown sugar every day to gain anything from these minimal amounts. Nutritionally I think unrefined brown sugar is better for cooking and eating as it does contain iron, chromium and minerals that are essential for health. Refined white sugar is the only “food” substance that has absolutely no nutrients in it whatsoever.

    4.  Avoid carbohydrate to lose weight.
    The key message that many low-carb diets convey is that carbohydrates promote insulin production, which in turn results in weight gain. Therefore by reducing carbohydrate intake, you can lose weight. Unfortunately, this is just another nutrition myth. Many low-carb diets actually do not provide sufficient carbohydrates to your body for daily maintenance. Therefore your body will begin to burn stored carbohydrates (glycogen) for energy. When your body starts burning glycogen, water is released. Therefore the drastic initial drop of weight at the beginning of a low-carb diet is mostly the water that you lose as a result of burning glycogen. The truth is that low-carb diets are also often calorie-restricted! Followers only eat an average of 1000 – 1400 calories daily, compared to an average intake of 1800 – 2200 calories for most people. To lose one pound a week, you only need to eat 500 fewer calories per day in your normal diet. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if you eat a high- or low-carb diet, you will lose weight if you decrease your caloric intake to less than needed to maintain your weight. However in my weight loss programme I do advise a higher ratio of protein to carbohydrate with every meal, with the emphasis on protein particularly for breakfast. So reduce carbohydrates a little when losing weight – do not cut them out totally.

    5. Nuts are fattening.
    Nuts can be quite “calorically dense” e.g. 15 cashews have 180 kilocalories! On top of that, it is very tough not to overeat these tasty snacks. If you can restrain yourself from overeating them, nuts can be a source of protein and a good snack food. It’s a nutrition myth that nut should be avoided. They are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats as well as plant sterols, all of which have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol. In 2003, the FDA approved a health claim for seven kinds of nuts stating that “scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces (45 grams) per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” Instead of simply adding nuts to your diet, the best approach is to eat them in replacement of foods high in saturated fats. If you are watching your weight you are probably avoiding nuts as they are high in fat – however nuts are high in protein, fibre, vitamins, selenium, other minerals and omega 3 oils. However, do avoid salted nuts and limit yourself to 8-10 nuts a day.

    6Water. Everyone should drink 8 glasses of water per day.
    You need to replace water lost through breathing, excrement and sweating each day – but that doesn’t necessarily total 64 ounces of water. It’s hard to measure the exact amount of water you have consumed daily in food and drink, but if your urine is pale yellow, you’re doing a good job. If it’s a darker yellow, drink more water. Daily requirements will vary according to your needs. Marathon runners will need more than sedentary workers and those of you taking medication may need more as well. The standard 1.5 litres is normal, but this will vary with the amounts of fruit and vegetables you eat and how active you are.

    7. Skipping meals can help lose weight.
    Many people think that by skipping a meal, they will be eating less food and therefore lose weight. As we now know, this is a nutrition myth. People who think skipping meals means weight loss do not understand how our bodies work. If you skip a meal, your body will think that you are in starvation mode and therefore slow down the metabolism to compensate. You then tend to overeat at the next meal. Often, skipping a meal and then eating too much at the next one means that you have a higher total caloric intake than if you just ate more frequently throughout the day. A better approach is to eat smaller frequent healthy meals and snacks to keep your blood sugar balanced.

    8. Red meat is bad for your health.
    I often hear people saying they avoid eating red meat. When I ask why they don’t, or even what they consider to be red meat, the answers vary dramatically. Many of my patients have studied the Eat Right for Your Blood Type and have discovered that they feel better when they eat red meat. However, it’s not right for everyone. Best avoided for those with gut problems, arthritis and high cholesterol or heart problems. If you do eat red meat choose lean cuts and try and by free range or organic. This does not include processed meat which should be avoided at all costs, but by all means enjoy a good roast lamb for Sunday lunch.

    9. Eat less food in hot weather.
    As the temperature outside rises your appetite may decrease. Even if you do not feel hungry you need to eat because you need as much energy to perspire and stay cool as you do to stay warm. If you do not find yourself eating so much in the summer months and lose a few pounds that’s fine but don’t forget to eat your quota of essential nutrients and remember to keep well hydrated. It’s key to keep an eye on your sodium and potassium levels in severe heat.

    10. Raw vegetables are better than cooked. Raw vegetables
    There is nothing wrong with raw vegetables but they are not always so nutritious as cooked. Some pulses such as red kidney beans contain a toxin which if not cooked can cause sickness and diarrhoea. Butter beans contain cyanide that could be dangerous if eaten raw. Some vegetables improve – cooking carrots or tomatoes helps to release carotenoids and lycopenes. However do remember when cooking vegetables to steam them and eat them al dente to retain as many of the nutrients as possible.

    11. Eating for two is necessary during pregnancy.
    Energy requirements vary among individuals. Unfortunately, the idea that pregnancy is an ice cream free-for-all is a nutrition myth. It is generally recommended that pregnant women increase their daily intake by 100 kcal in the first trimester and 300 kcal in the second and third trimesters. An extra snack before bedtime consisting of a fruit, a serving of milk or yogurt, and a few biscuits is often enough. A daily prenatal multivitamin supplement is often recommended during pregnancy, but not a daily bowl of ice cream! Trying to eat little and often whilst pregnant is also a good idea as it keeps blood sugar and energy levels stable.

    12. Brown grain products are whole grain products.
    Brown dyes and additives can give foods the deceiving appearance of whole grain. Read labels to be sure a food is whole grain. For example brown bread is not necessarily wholemeal bread it is often white bread died with caramel.

    13. Eating eggs will raise your cholesterol.
    This myth began because egg yolks have the most concentrated amount of cholesterol of any food. However, there’s not enough cholesterol there to pose health risks if eggs are eaten in moderation. Studies suggest that eating one egg per day will not raise cholesterol levels and that eggs are actually a great source of nutrients. Eggs contain Vitamin A,D, B12, niacin and protein and many are rich in omega 3 from the feed.

    14. Eating fibre causes problems if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
    There are two kinds of fibre: soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fibre can cause problems in IBS sufferers; soluble fibre, however, is more easily absorbed by the body and helps prevent constipation for those with IBS. Soluble fibre is found in most grains, particularly porridge and psyllium husks are also a good source. For those with severe IBS, avoid bran cereals as they can be abrasive and make IBS worse. That can also be the case for a diet high in fruits and vegetables. Take it easy and see what works best for you.

    15. All alcohol is bad for you. Alcohol
    Again, moderation is key. Six ounces of wine and 12 ounces of beer are considered moderate amounts, and should not pose any adverse health effects to the average healthy adult. All alcohol is an anticoagulant and red wine also contains antioxidants, so drinking a small amount daily can be beneficial.

    16. Diet food is healthy food.
    Don’t get me started on this one! When you choose diet food you are probably not eating as well as you think. Calorie controlled ready meals are high in salt and sugar and the portions are tiny so they won’t fill you up. For example, some low fat biscuits contain more calories than regular varieties – that’s because the manufacturers have added more sugar to make them taste better – always check the label. When I do my home visits I’m always shocked at the amount of diet food in people’s cupboards and fridges. Stop choosing low fat and sugar free foods. Look at the back of the packet not at the front – that’s where you will see the real ingredients.

    17. Eating before bed makes you gain weight.
    Many diets recommend a carbohydrate curfew after 6pm. This limits the amount of calories you have a day and can also can give you a low blood sugar attack in the night as you would be going over 12 hours without food before breakfast. You will gain weight if you expend the calories you use in the day – when you eat them does not make the slightest bit of difference. However it’s not a good idea to go straight to bed after a heavy meal though.

    18. Diet drinks are healthy.
    Diet drinks may be low in calories but they are very acidic which can damage the tooth enamel. They also contain artificial sweeteners which can be toxic to the body. There is also evidence that the body responds to the sweeteners in the same way it does sugar, raising insulin levels and leaving you craving for more sweet food. Avoid them at all costs and choose juice, which can be diluted half and half with water.

    19. A vegetarian diet is healthier.
    A vegetarian diet can be extremely healthy if you are not relying heavily on cheese as your main protein source. Include pulses, tofu and nuts as well. Keep an eye on your iron and B12 levels as well.

    20. Eating any more than three meals a day will make me fat.
    Eating five smaller meals a day will keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day and balance your insulin levels Supplementsmaking it in fact easier to lose weight.

    21. Supplements are a waste of money.
    Not always. It’s important to get the right advice when choosing supplements. Some people need them and some don’t. It completely depends on your diet, lifestyle and overall health.

    22. Vitamin C stops a cold.
    Actually there is no research to back this up. Once you have the cold virus, you have it. Vitamin C can however boost your immune system on a general basis and you may catch fewer viruses but it can’t stop the virus itself.

  7. Latest newsletter: The outward signs of health problems, and personality types

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    Taken from this month’s newsletter, just out – to subscribe and receive the newsletter, click here.

    The outward signs of health problems

    As a complete unique individual you will have completely unique individual traits in not only your personality but also how you look. Starting with the eyes (often referred to as the windows of the soul) here are some symptoms that people suffer from and what they could (but not necessarily) mean:

    Glassy-eyed: too much adrenaline, exhaustion, prescription or recreational drug use
    Bloodshot: lack of vitamin B, tiredness, allergy, infection
    Itchy/dry: allergy, vitamin B deficiency or lack of tears (sjorgrens syndrome)
    Dark circles: tiredness, anaemia, parasites (often seen in children)
    Allergic shiners: usually seen in children – an allergy to a food or inhalant
    Photophobia: lack of vitamin B, migraine/headache sufferer
    Sunken eyes: dehydration/exhaustion
    Pallor under eyes: anaemia

    White spots on nail: calcium and/or zinc deficiency (often seen after an illness)
    Pitted nails: can indicate partial or total hair loss
    Ridges: vertical can indicate general poor health and horizontal can occur after severe

    Very slow: i.e. if under 50 bpm and little/no exercise done it can be braccycardia – a sign of hypothyroidism
    Fast/irregular pulse: heart conditions/anxiety

    Spots: there are many reasons for spots or acne. Usually where they are on the face can give a clue, e.g. around the chin and hairline is usually hormonal.
    Rashes: can indicate an allergy or fungal infection
    Dry and scaly: dehydrated, lack of vitamin A, lack of EFA’s (essential fatty acids)

    Skin colour:
    Lemon Yellow: lack of vitamin B12, pernicious anaemia
    White: anaemia, lack of zinc
    Orange: can indicate liver problems, jaundice
    Dark Pink/Red: high blood pressure/heart problems

    Athletes foot: fungal infection
    Easy bruising: can indicate a lack of vitamin C
    Dandruff: usually a fungal infection
    Psoriasis: stress, lack of EFA’s, allergy
    Eczema: stress, lack of EFA’s, allergy
    Vitiligo: autoimmune conditions/lack of PABA’s

    Cracked: lack of essential fatty acids or vitamin B
    Sores at the corners: lack of vitamin B3
    Dry: lack of EFA’s

    Dry mouth: dehydrated, medication or lack of saliva (sjorgrens syndrome)
    Ulcers on tongue: run down or allergy
    White coating round the gums: oral candida
    Bad breath: tooth decay or bad digestion

    Your personality

    Although there is no scientific basis whatsoever, I love the idea of the very old practice of humors. Ancient Greek philosophers such as Hippocrates (400 BC) and Galen (140/150 AD) classified four types of “humors” in people. Each type was believed to be due to an excess of one of four bodily fluids, corresponding to their character. The personalities were termed “humors”. All diseases and disabilities resulted from an excess or deficit of one of these four humors. The four humors were identified as black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood. Greeks and Romans, and the later Muslim and Western European medical establishments that adopted and adapted classical medical philosophy, believed that each of these humors would wax and wane in the body, depending on diet and activity. When a patient was suffering from a surplus or imbalance of one fluid, then his or her personality and physical health would be affected. This theory was closely related to the theory of the four elements: earth, fire, water and air – earth was predominantly present in the black bile, fire in the yellow bile, water in the phlegm, and all four elements were present in the blood. Theophrastus then developed a set of characters based on the humors. Those with too much blood were sanguine. Those with too much phlegm were phlegmatic. Those with too much yellow bile were choleric, and those with too much black bile were melancholic. Here are the general personality types of those humors:

    A person who is sanguine is generally light-hearted, fun loving, a people person, loves to entertain, spontaneous, and confident. However they can be arrogant, cocky, and indulgent. He/She can be day-dreamy and off-task to the point of not accomplishing anything and can be impulsive, possibly acting on whims in an unpredictable fashion. The humour of Sanguine was once commonly treated with leeches.

    A person who is choleric is a doer. They have a lot of ambition, energy, and passion, and try to instil it in others. They can dominate people of other temperaments, especially phlegmatic types. Many great charismatic military and political figures were cholerics. On the negative side, they are easily angered or bad-tempered.

    A person who is a thoughtful ponderer has a melancholic disposition. Often very kind and considerate, melancholics can be highly creative – as in poetry and art – but also can become overly pre-occupied with the tragedy and cruelty in the world, thus becoming depressed. A melancholic is also often a perfectionist, being very particular about what they want and how they want it in some cases. This often results in being dissatisfied with one’s own artistic or creative works and always pointing out to themselves what could and should be improved. They are often loners and most times choose to stay alone and reflect.

    While phlegmatic are generally self-content and kind, their shy personality can often inhibit enthusiasm in others and make themselves lazy and resistant to change. They are very consistent, relaxed, rational, curious, and observant, making them good administrators and diplomats. Like the sanguine personality, the phlegmatic has many friends. However the phlegmatic is more reliable and compassionate; these characteristics typically make the phlegmatic a more dependable friend.

    As I said, the humors have no scientifically proven basis, and are out of favour now. Like an astrology chart though, part of the thought process does have a sense of… something.

    Type A and B personalities

    If we bring things up to date slightly, our 21st century equivalent is the Type A and Type B personality, first suggested by Meyer Friedman, an American cardiologist, who noticed in the 1940s that the chairs in his waiting room got worn out from the edges. He hypothesized that his patients were driven, impatient people, who sat on the edge of their seats when waiting. They labelled these people “Type A” personalities. Type A personalities are workaholics, always busy, driven, somewhat impatient, and so on. Type B personalities, on the other hand are laid back and easy going. “Type A personality” has found its way into our general vocabulary.  Since its inception, the theory has been widely popularized and also widely criticised for its scientific shortcomings. It is thought to be that Type As tend to get more fatigue syndromes (the yuppie burn out so common in the ’80s and ’90s), and also heart disease, than Type Bs.

    Type A can be described as impatient, time-conscious, concerned about their status, highly competitive, ambitious, business-like, aggressive, having difficulty relaxing; and are sometimes disliked by individuals with Type B personalities for the way that they’re always rushing. They are often high-achieving workaholics who multi-task, drive themselves with deadlines, and are unhappy about delays. Because of these characteristics, Type A individuals are often described as “stress junkies.”

    Type B individuals, in contrast, are described as patient, relaxed, and easy-going, generally lacking any sense of urgency. Because of these characteristics, Type B individuals are often described as apathetic and disengaged.

    Whatever your personality, there are certain traits individual to you that make you unique. That is why for me no one is ever treated the same. It’s extraordinary how two people with two similar health problems have completely different symptoms, coping strategies and outlooks and that’s why I love my job so much! Again there is no scientific basis on constitutions but we use them in everyday language, i.e. he has the stomach of an ox. There are also certain types of people that are forever strong – Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill showed the same ‘never show weakness’ mentality. Churchill lived into his nineties and smoked and drank, and I look at people like the actress June Brown (Dot Cotton), 81 years old, who smokes and drinks and gets away with it whilst still working full time. For me these people have strong constitutions and good genes, but maybe its more simple than that – perhaps they have a more healthy way of coping with stress than others (more of that in another newsletter!).

  8. Coffee and nutrition – the facts

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    (From an article featured on my monthly newsletter – click here to sign up for regular updates)


    • Globally a third of our liquid consumption is coffee. So for every three glasses of water being ingested, one cup of coffee is being drunk.
    • 7 million tonnes of coffee will be produced by 2010.
    • Health benefits from coffee are contradictory. Although coffee does contain antioxidants it has a negative effect on some health problems: e.g. it can increase acid reflux and interfere with the absorption of iron. Research suggests that drinking caffeinated coffee can cause a temporary increase in the stiffening of arterial walls, so it should be avoided if you suffer from high blood pressure. It is not good to drink if you are suffering from mental health issues, anxiety and depression or get heart palpitations.
    • Over 1,000 chemicals have been reported in roasted coffee; more than half of those tested are rodent carcinogens (and if you are wondering, decaffeinated can be even worse!).

    White sugar is highly addictive and can cause mayhem with your blood sugar. Sugar has been implicated in aggressive behaviour, anxiety, hyperactivity and ADHD, depression, eating disorders, fatigue and PMS. It is the one food that has no nutritional value whatsoever and the one food I am constantly trying to get my clients off when they are losing weight (rather than fat!). Because it is refined it has been stripped of all its minerals. Unrefined sugar like black strap molasses is still sweet but it has food value as it is high in chromium, b vitamins and iron. So if you need something sweet choose unrefined products instead.

    We are now consuming 38 kilos of sugar per person on average per year and with it the nations health is declining fast. During the second world war and after with rationing we were averaging less than a kilo per year. The bottom line is that sugar sells and the more we eat the more we crave and have less room for slow release carbohydrates. If you go back to the dawn of time and analyse the diet of cavemen, it was 65% carbohydrate, 17% protein and 16% fat. Today the stats are very different at 28% carbohydrate, 20% sugar, 40% fat and 12 % protein,

    Avoiding the sugar ‘rollercoaster’ by learning how to control your blood sugar levels is a great way to lessen depression and raise energy levels. Cut back on highly refined and sugar rich foods which create a surge in blood sugar that gives a burst of energy which is then followed by an all time low in both mood and energy. Your brain needs a constant supply of sugar for energy and by eating foods that cause this rollercoaster effect you disrupt brain function and neurotransmitter balance which results in poor mood stability. By focusing on foods that release sugar slowly and consistently into the blood stream like complex carbohydrates and by eating protein with each meal and snack you can start to change and lift your mood.

    I’m not trying to be a killjoy and say never drink coffee or have white sugar, (I’m all for a little of what you fancy does you good) but just check in every now and again to see if you are over doing it and try and find natural highs from good foods.

  9. How much water do I need to drink on a daily basis?

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    (From an article featured on my monthly newsletter – click here to sign up for regular updates)

    This does vary – according to how much exercise you are doing and what your diet is like but roughly 1.5 litres to 3 litres daily. The fluid should be clear or near clear fluid so that would include: water/juice/herbal tea/fruit tea/green tea but not coffee, alcohol and fizzy drinks. I know that the British Dietetic Association do include coffee as fluid but I have had patients who, on hearing that, have drunk 10 cups of coffee per day and no water and thought that was ok – it isn’t by the way. Coffee is a diuretic (which means your urine output increases). If you are going to drink coffee, make sure you still have 6-8 large glasses of water daily. Another guideline is the colour of your urine. You will notice that it is darker in the morning when you have had no liquid over night. A pale straw colour is what you should be aiming for, if it’s dark, you probably need to up your liquid and if its clear, you have drunk enough.

    Water Facts

    Your body can go approximately three to four weeks with no food but only three to five days with no water. The body is 70% water and water is responsible for and involved in nearly every bodily process including: digestion, absorption, circulation and excretion. It is also the primary transporter of nutrients though the body. Water helps maintain normal body temperature and is essential for carrying waste material out of the body. Quality water is beneficial for virtually all disorders known to mankind. Bowel and bladder problems as well as headaches can be reduced by drinking water. Water is especially important for people who have musculoskeletal problems such as arthritis or who are athletic, as it lubricates the joints. Approximately one pint of liquid is lost each day through exhaling.

    Getting quality should be an easy matter but due to the numerous types of classification the average consumer can easily be confused about what is available.

    So here is my (hopefully) easy guide to different types of water and whether they help or harm the body.

    Tap Water – In Eastbourne we have hard water and are very familiar with the lime scale! Lime scale is harmless, but it is advisable to clean kettles and keep hot water systems below 60°C to reduce the build up of lime scale in boilers and hot water pipes. Having said that, the water is pretty good here as it is pumped up through the chalk and not from reservoirs and at present is non fluoridated. Hard water tends to contain more calcium and magnesium. The presence of these minerals prevents soap from lathering as much and can result in sediment being deposited in the hair, clothing, pipes dishes and washtubs. The hardness of water varies from region to region depending on the amount of minerals which dissolve in the rainwater as it percolates through the ground. Go to www.southeastwater.co.uk for more information on water in your area. Some people choose to fit a water softener. These should be fitted to comply with the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999 and one tap should still supply unsoftened water for cooking and drinking because softeners can significantly increase the level of sodium in water.

    Can you drink the water in East Sussex? – the simple answer is yes, the quality is pretty good so don’t waste your money on bottled water.

    Because of the concerns of tap water (I hope I have now allayed any fears about water in Sussex) many people are still turning to bottled water – are they necessary and how do you choose which is better for your health? Buying bottled water is a personal choice, the only health concern is to look at the mineral content (more on that later).

    Types of bottled water

    Artisan – this is water that is drawn from a well where the water is brought to the surface by natural pressure or flow.

    Bottled water – this water is intended for human consumption and is sealed in bottles or other containers with no added ingredients except for optional antimicrobial agents. About 25% of bottled water now sold comes from the same water supplies that flow into some areas household taps.

    Mineral water – Mineral water is water from a geologically and physically protected undergoing water source or spring that has been tapped at the spring opening or through a borehole. No minerals may be added to this water. Depending on where the source is, the minerals the water contain will vary. If you are suffering from a deficiency of minerals and are drinking mineral water for therapeutic reasons you must be aware of which minerals are in the particular brand of water you drink. If you are drinking mineral water containing minerals that you do not lack you could be doing yourself more harm than good.

    Natural Spring Water – This label does not tell you where the water has come from only that the mineral content of the water has not be altered. It may or may not have been filtered or otherwise treated. While the number of gallons of natural spring water flowing through water coolers and from bottles has more than doubled in recent years the meaning of these words on a label has been firmly defined only since the final changes in the FDA bottled drinking water regulations have been in place. Spring water is water that comes form an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the surface of the earth. It must be collected at the spring or through a borehole tapping the underground formation that feeds the spring. To meet the definition of spring there must be natural force bringing the water to the surface opening. The location of the spring must be identified on the label of any water labelled as spring water.

    Sparkling water -This is bottled water that contains the same amount of carbon dioxide that it had at the water source. It can be a healthy alternative to soda but if it is loaded with fructose and other sweeteners it may be no better than fizzy drinks. A naturally sparkling water must get its carbonation from the same source as the water. If a water is carbonated natural water, that means the carbonation came from a source other than the one that supplied the water. That doesn’t mean the water is of poor quality. It can still be natural because its mineral content is the same as when it came form the ground even through it as been carbonated from a separate source. People suffering with gut problems should avoid drinking carbonated water because it irritates the gut.

    There is nothing wrong with bottled water, and it is a healthier option than fizzy drinks obviously, and handy to carry around if you are travelling or out for the day. For home use however, unless you are entertaining tap water is fine.

    Fluoridation – A quick point about flouridation. My personal opinions about mass flouridation might not concur with your beliefs, but if you would like more information go to www.flouridealert.org so you can make up your own mind. Please get yourself better informed about the dangers of this potentially toxic substance. Having spoken to Southern Water today there are no plans at present to fluoridate the water here, however that does not mean that in a few years it may be under review again. As early as 1961, as recorded in the Congressional Record in the US, fluoride was exposed as a lethal poison. The Delaney Congressional Investigation Committee also in the US has stated that “fluoridation is mass medication without parallel in the history of medication”. Today in the US almost half of the states fluoridate their water. We are luckier in the UK, but many counties are now fluoridated.

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  10. MMR jab – choice or emotional blackmail for families?

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    I’m sitting here thinking – do I want to get involved in this debate on my blog – but actually I think I do as I feel so strongly about it.

    No matter what my own personal beliefs are about triple vaccinations the government advisors seem to have got it badly wrong again. You cannot emotionally blackmail parents to force vaccinations on their children, or not allow them to be educated. This is the most ludicrous piece of rubbish I’ve heard this week (obviously there has been more than enough ludicrous nonsense in the past few weeks but that’s another matter!).

    I was told by a mother recently when she asked her GP if she could give her child the MMR in three divided doses, rather than the one dose – that this was akin to child abuse! Isn’t that a little harsh? Parents have the best interests of their children at heart and need to make informed choices by themselves as to how they vaccinate their children. Most of my girlfriends have vaccinated their children, however they have done it privately at great expense and divided the doses of the jab so the child doesn’t get it all at once – this seems a fairly reasonable mid way ground to me.

    I welcome your comments!!