To watch my video version of this post, on YouTube, click here. Many people have reported success following the high-dose iodine protocol to treat thyroid problems, and also to treat other conditions, including breast lumps, prostrate problems, irregular heartbeat and even allergies. However this is […]
Health practitioners have been extolling the virtues of fibre-rich foods for decades. Dietary fibre is a nutrient that is important in regulating the digestion and eliminating waste.
Now researchers at the University of Michigan in the US have found another equally important reason to eat a diet high in fibre-rich foods. Dietary fibre, it appears, indirectly protects the intestinal wall, guarding against the invasion of unfriendly bacteria and pathogens.
The research, published in Cell, was carried out using specially-bred germ-free (“gnotobiotic”) mice which are born with no gut microbes of their own. The mice received a transplant of bacteria that normally grow in the human gut.
Three groups of mice were studied:
• one group of mice were fed a diet that contained 15 percent fibre
• another group were fed a fibre-free diet of processed foods
• a third group of mice were fed a diet high in prebiotic fibre of the type often found in health supplements and processed foods.
With no fibre to eat, the normally “friendly” bacteria began to eat the lining of the colon
The research revealed that in the mice fed a fibre-free diet, some of the normally helpful, “friendly” bacteria began to eat their way through the protective mucus layer that lines the wall of the colon, eroding it to such an extent that pathogenic bacteria were able to invade.
This was found to be the case even after just a few days of eating a fibre-free diet. It was also found to be the case in the mice fed the prebiotic fibre.
But where the host was fed a diet of fibre-rich foods, the protective mucus lining remained strong and impregnable.
When some of the mice were infected with a strain of pathogenic bacteria similar in effects to E.coli in humans, the fibre-free mice showed inflammation over a much greater area than the ones on a fibre-rich diet.
Eric Martens, PhD, who led the research, said: “The lesson we’re learning from studying the interaction of fiber, gut microbes and the intestinal barrier system is that if you don’t feed them, they can eat you.”
Read more about the research here.
Foods high in fibre:
Legumes – lentils, beans, peas, chick peas
Berries – raspberries, blackberries
Seeds – hemp seeds, linseeds/flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, quinoa
Dried fruit – dates, figs
Vegetables – parsnips, brussel sprouts, broccoli, turnip
Wholegrains – oatmeal, wheat bran
Over the past few years, a growing number of people have been taking doses of iodine ten times the daily amount of 150mcg recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Most of them – but not all – claim to have improved their health in this way, sometimes dramatically.
Vanilla extract has a beautifully fragrant smell and adds a subtle, sugar-free sweetness to recipes. It can be bought in large supermarkets, but it usually has alcohol and sometimes sugar added.
You can make your own alcohol-free vanilla extract easily and cheaply – however you have to leave it for a few weeks before using to allow the vanilla flavours to steep into the liquid.
The smoothie bowl has to be one of the most delicious breakfasts ever created – or you could serve it as a healthy, nutrient-rich dessert. All the ingredients are from nuts, seeds and fruit.
You’ll need a good blender with strong blades that can blend ice.
YOU WILL NEED:
• 200-300ml frozen fruit
• 150-200ml nutmilk
• one teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional). If you do use this, make sure it’s real vanilla extract, not vanilla essence – or even better, make your own!
• coconut water (optional – you can use tap water instead).
You can let your imagination run riot with this one. I’ve used nutmilk for the base, but you can use hemp milk, coconut milk, seed milk or just all fruit.
Home-made nutmilk is vastly better than the shop-bought version, and it’s really easy to make. You can find out how here.
- Start by putting the fruit in the blender.
You can use any fruit, but it’s best to use frozen for this recipe, to give your smoothie base an ice-cream-like consistency.
For this one I’ve used frozen pineapple and a mixture of berries.
2. Add 3 dates.
Take the stones out of the dates first. You can do this using a sharp knife (I find one with a serrated edge works best). Just slit the skin and flesh of the date and pick out the stone in the centre.
3. Add about 150-200ml nutmilk.
If you’re using shop-bought or very thin nutmilk, you might want to add a bit more than this.
4. Add one teaspoon of vanilla extract.
The vanilla extract is not necessary, but it adds a delicate flavour.
5. Now it’s time to blend.
Blend on the “ice cream” setting if your blender has this. If not, blend in fairly short pulses (5 to 15 seconds), checking for lumps of fruit after each pulse.
If there are a lot of icy lumps, you’ll need to add a little water or coconut water – not too much, because you’re aiming for a thick, creamy consistency.
If you’re using an inverted style blender, as I have for this recipe, after securely attaching the base, give it a good shake to make sure that the frozen fruit is close to the blades. If the fruit has frozen into a big lump, you might have to break it up with a knife or a spoon first, and maybe add a bit more liquid.
Blend on the “ice cream” setting if your blender has this. If not, blend in fairly short pulses (5 to 15 seconds), checking for lumps of fruit after each pulse. If there are a lot of icy lumps, you’ll need to add a little water or coconut water – not too much, because you’re aiming for a thick, creamy consistency.
6. Once you’re satisfied with the consistency of the smoothie, pour it into a bowl.
I sometimes stir in some rolled oats at this stage, if I’m planning an energetic morning (this is optional).
I always top my smoothie bowl with a bit of chopped fruit and milled linseed – linseeds are packed with omega 3 fatty acids. You can buy this ready-milled in the shops – or you can make it yourself and store it in an airtight jar.
The type of topping you use is completely up to you. I sometimes make a frozen banana smoothie bowl, and top it with raspberries or blueberries.
Sometimes I stir in a couple of teaspoons of chia seeds, soaked in a little water first. Use your imagination – but keep it healthy!
Probiotics are live micro-organisms designed to add or replenish friendly bacteria in the gut. Foods can be probiotic if they contain live bacteria. Live yogurt is one of the best-known probiotic foods – others include raw cheese, sauerkraut, miso soup, kefir, kombucha or any other foods that have been fermented or use live cultures.
Bacteria have a terrible reputation. They are seen as disease carriers and signs of a dirty home or an unclean body. They are seen as a dangerous invisible presence that should be eradicated wherever they might possibly appear.
This is in spite of an enormous body of medical and scientific research showing that bacteria are essential for all life.
Last year I visited Costa Rica, for a family graduation. I travelled round the country on my own for a couple of weeks, staying in some beautiful remote jungle areas, before meeting up with the family for the big event.
Just before I returned to San Jose, the capital city, to meet up with my family, I noticed a large circular red mark on my left arm.
The bull’s eye mark is clear to see on my left arm in the main photo and inset.
When I met up with my sister a few days later, she spotted the mark and said it looked like Lyme disease. My sister is a doctor, and she told me that Lyme disease required immediate treatment with antibiotics – otherwise it can stay in your system for years.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by a tick. You don’t have to be in a tropical country to contract it, but infection is more likely to occur when the skin is exposed. This is why hikers are often advised to wear clothing that covers their legs when walking in areas with long grass or high vegetation.
Usually the first sign that you’ve contracted Lyme disease is a distinctive red or pink circular rash with a dot in the middle, often described as a “bull’s eye” rash. However some people don’t develop this rash when they contract the disease.
Flu-like symptoms often occur in the early stages of Lyme disease: headaches, fatigue, joint pains and a high temperature. But if the disease is not treated, later symptoms can be much more serious, including fatigue, joint pain and swelling, numbness, paralysis of the facial muscles, headaches and heart problems.
Many people believe that they have chronic effects from Lyme disease, sometimes appearing long after the original infection. This is an area of controversy, but given that the ticks that pass on Lyme disease may pass on more than one type of bacteria, it does seem possible.
Symptoms can vary from country to country, as ticks can carry more than one disease. Strictly speaking, Lyme disease is Lyme borreliosis, spread by Borrelia type bacteria, but other common infections from ticks in the UK include babesiosis and ehrlichiosis.
Ticks are small black creatures related to spiders. They can be as small as a poppy seed, so they are not easy to identify. If one lands on your skin and starts to feed on your blood, it could stay there for five to seven days before dropping off.
If you spot a tick on your own or someone else’s body, it’s not advisable to just brush it off with your hand – unless you have just seen the tick landing on the skin.
The tick will burrow into the skin in order to feed on the host’s blood, and if it’s roughly brushed off leaving part of it or the contents of its stomach or mouth in the skin, the infection could be passed on. So it’s important to remove the whole tick very carefully, using either fine tweezers or a special tick removal tool, as described here.
If you are infected and the “bull’s eye” develops, the only way known to science to cure the infection is by taking a course of antibiotics.
When I realised I had Lyme disease, I did a bit of research to see if a natural cure might be possible. I didn’t find any satisfactory natural alternative to antibiotics, and I didn’t want to risk symptoms lingering in my system, possibly for years.
Luckily for me, I was due to return home a few days after my bull’s eye rash developed, and my doctor prescribed an antibiotic. Antibiotics can trigger a lot of side-effects, as they can wipe out a lot of “friendly” gut bacteria along with the targeted pathogens, so as a precaution I ate a lot of fresh raw vegetables during and after my course of antibiotics.
Towards the end of the course I developed a slight burning feeling in my gut, so I made myself a daily litre of a special anti-inflammatory juice that I used to make up for a former customer of my juice café. The ingredients are greens, celery, cucumber, lemon or lime, fresh turmeric, fresh ginger and black pepper.
After a few days of taking those, the burning sensations completely disappeared.
I’ve had no recurrence of the bull’s eye mark, and if it ever happens again, I’ll certainly recognise it.
What happens if you don’t know you’ve contracted Lyme disease?
Having read a bit more since then, it seems there is a strong argument for natural treatment of Lyme disease – although if it happened to me again I would probably still take the antibiotics.
Not everyone gets the “bull’s eye” mark, and even those who do might not notice it until it’s too late. It seems likely that many people are living with the condition without knowing that they have it.
If you have a strong, diverse gut flora, new pathogens may not stand a chance
The bacteria passed on by ticks will take their place in your gut along with your other gut bacteria.
If you have a strong, diverse gut flora, the theory goes, the new pathogens may not stand a chance. We all carry many different types of bacteria in our gut, some more helpful to us than others. Researchers have found pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria living peacefully in the crevices of many healthy people – we are all probably harbouring some pathogens that usually do us no harm.
That’s why it’s crucially important to keep the bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract healthy and diverse, by consuming prebiotics to lay the groundwork in which friendly bacteria can flourish, and probiotics, to introduce good bacteria and encourage them to stick around.
Or simply by eating a balanced diet containing ample amounts of fruit, vegetables and plant fibre to feed your healthy bacteria, as well as taking regular exercise, limiting stress and getting out in the sunshine when you can.
The green smoothie is one of the healthiest convenience foods in existence. It’s high in vitamin C, fibre, magnesium and lots of other nutrients, but relatively low in sugar. It’s hydrating, and it tastes a lot nicer than you might think. You can pour it into your favourite drinking vessel and take it to work or the gym – you’ll find it surprisingly filling.
A green smoothie is just a fruit smoothie with added greens such as spinach, kale or chard. The greens add nutrients like iron and fibre, and the fruit masks the taste of the greens – in fact, they blend well together.
I usually have two 500ml green smoothies for lunch, but if you’re not used to smoothies, it’s best to start small (250-350ml) and build up gradually so that your system gets used to the high dose of fibre. A green smoothie should keep for up to three days in the fridge.
This recipe is for a 350-500ml green smoothie. When making green smoothies it’s not important to use exact amounts of ingredients – what’s more important is the balance of ingredients.
Green smoothies have to include greens – whether that’s kale, spinach, chard or any other type of greens is up to you, and you can vary the amount of greens used according to taste and how much your system can cope with fibre. I recommend a handful of greens in each juice, but if you don’t normally have a high-fibre diet, it’s best to build up the greens gradually.
Ingredients can vary, but for this smoothie I’ve used:
• 1/2 banana
• 1/4 mango
• 1/2 orange
• 50g greens
Start by putting the fruit into the blender.
My favourite recipe is one banana, a quarter mango flesh or pineapple and half an orange or apple, with a large handful of spinach or kale. I peel all of the fruit except for the apple. Apple skin has a lot of nutrients, and if you have a good blender, you won’t get any lumpiness from the skin – only the flavour.
But if you’re worried about pesticide use you might want to peel the apple first. I always remove the apple core and any orange pips, and I also remove the hard central section of the pineapple.
Add about 150-200ml water.
Add the greens.
You can add the ingredients in any order you want, but I find it easier to add the water before adding the greens.
You might also want to add other flavourings at this stage, such as paprika or nutmeg. Paprika is rich in iron, and the taste is not nearly as spicy as you might think – it blends well with greens. Some people like to add cayenne pepper, which is fine but just add a pinch – cayenne is very strong.
Or you can just leave it as it is.
Now, you’re ready to…
How long should you blend for? A good guideline is 30 seconds, but again, it depends on your preference. With spinach you might need only 20-25 seconds. Some people like the odd lump and don’t like to blend for too long in case it destroys the nutrient content. If you’ve added a lot of kale you might want to blend it for a minute or a bit longer.
Pour into your favourite drinking vessel, and enjoy!
Kale has a wonderful flavour (try chewing some raw – you might be surprised!), but you need a powerful blender to extract the taste and pulp all the ingredients into a smooth liquid without lumps. The best blenders cost hundreds of £s/$s, but there are much cheaper blenders that make excellent green smoothies with kale or almost any other type of greens.
I would recommend using a blender with an engine power of 300 watts minimum if you plan to blend kale. If your blender has less power, I would advise you to use spinach rather than kale, as you won’t need as much power to blend spinach into a smooth, lump-free liquid. This is probably the best plan if you’re new to green smoothies.
The Nutribullet has a 600W engine, so it will comfortably pulp kale to a smooth consistency. Various models are available, but I would go for one with at least two blender cups for convenience.
The Breville Blend Active only works in the UK, though similar types of blender are available in other countries. It has a taller, slimmer blender cup and a motor of just 300W, but I find it handles kale pretty well. Again, I would recommend getting the version that comes with an extra blender cup.