Category Archives: Nutrients

Using Olive Leaf as a Herb

olives and olive leafOlive oil is a well known part of the Mediterranean diet and has found a way into many kitchens far from the sunny shores of the Mediterranean. So while we are happy to use Olive oil on salads and as a dressing for vegetables and in stir frying most people are surprised to hear of the leaves of the Olive tree being used medicinally.

Not only has the leaf been found to have many extraordinary healing benefits but extracts of Olive leaf have been found to be effective in a wide range of applications.

So in this article we can mention a broad range of these discoveries and find out if there is a place for Olive leaves or Olive leaf extracts in our lives.

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Rice – The Second Mother to The World.

green field of riceIn this series of alternatives to Wheat we come now to a grain that is a staple and central food to more than half of the world's population.

Rice was first grown and cultivated in China over 8,000 years ago from where it spread to India, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

The seeds of the rice plant first need to be dehulled or dehusked and once this is done the rice seeds are a wholefood and at their most nutritious.

The nutritional content is huge and like many fruits and vegetables is largely absent from the Nutrition label! All we get there if we are lucky is a brief list of some minerals and vitamins but the thousands of valuable and powerfully healthy healing phytonutrients are routinely ignored!

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Barley – a Traditional Grain and a Health Powerhouse

stalks of barleyThis is post number 2 in our series of grains we can turn to if eating wheat is a problem, as it is for so many people.

Part 1 of this series on Wheat and Grains is here

Whether you have wheat allergy or wheat intolerance it is best not to continue eating wheat which just stresses the body and diverts the body's resources and energy.

Why feel lousy and suffer indigestion and worse from wheat when you can easily switch to barley instead?

And there are plenty of positive reasons to choose barley as a regular food.

Barley is the basic or default grain for many around the world. Whether you are from Northern Scotland as my Mother was or throughout Africa and the Middle East  – in fact right through to Tibet – Barley was the staff of life.

So I grew up as a "Barley boy" nourished by frequent Barley soups and happily make them now myself from Pearl Barley – our selection at home.

What's special about Barley is not on the simple ingredients of the nutrition label. Yes it is a worthwhile source of B vitamins and of the minerals magnesium, selenium and zinc, all of which it's worth saying most people are short of.

What is special is the…fibre and please don't zone out or dismiss this as something to do with "being regular".

Fibre is really very complex and the effects on the body are really exciting.

  • Effects like powerfully regulating your blood sugar which is vital not just to diabetics but to all of us who may be hypoglycemic or even stressed.
  • Effects like powerfully regulating the inner environment in the gut so that healthy bacteria flourish there excluding disease causing bacteria. The health of your body depends on the health of your gut and if that is poor everything else will suffer. This one benefit is enough of a reason for any health conscious person to seriously consider including barley in their eating plans.
  • And effects like lowering blood pressure, lowering LDL cholesterol, reduces visceral fat – belly fat – and increases satiety that important signal from the brain that tells us with a satisfied sigh that we have eaten enough food and it's time to relax and digest it.

I could go on but the beneficial health effects mentioned so far are so important that I believe that anyone who wants to find simple and tasty foods to include in their diet and get all the health boosting effects in the bullet points is well served by using barley and it can be as simple as …

Barley Soup

For Pearl or Pot Barley

1 cup of barley grains

3 cups of water or vegetable stock

Add veggies according to taste. I will usually add

A handful of carrots cut into small pieces

I onion – diced

Half a Swede cut into small pieces

I don't add salt or spices to this I just let the veggies speak for themselves. Try this basic recipe first and then on the second time add some of your favourite foods and vary it.

That will give you a simple and nourishing soup ideal for all dull and cold days – ideal with your main meal or as a hot supper. Pearl barley takes 45 to 60 minutes and Pot barley may take an hour and a half.

And that is just the beginning. You can make Barley Tabular, Barley Bread – anyone who likes to experiment in the kitchen has a lot of fun ahead of them playing with Barley and giving the lucky souls eating their recipes one of the best superfoods in the world.


Whole Grains Council

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition



Vegetables For Kids – How To Get Your Little Darlings to Eat Their Veggies

Food and vegetable ambassadorsGetting kids to eat can be a struggle; getting them to eat their veggies may be even harder.

Sometimes it's about power.

I was enjoying a meal with some friends with their little boy sitting next to me. I feared that this might be a problem but he was mercifully very well behaved.

Seeing that he was toying with his food and not scoffing it as I was, I gently and humorously helped him to eat his meal. His parents were in awe because they have so much trouble with getting him to eat.

Why did I find it easy? – simple, I had no emotional baggage with the child. There was no power struggle and really I could not care less if he did not eat his dinner.

Children have to explore boundaries and what they can and cannot do. Eating is a big part of that and luckily they usually pass through that with no particular problems, other than turning their parents hair grey.

Sometimes it's about taste.

I hated greens when I was small. It all tasted too strong and too bitter and I had to eat them but O boy I avoided cabbage and most greens when I got older.

Instead I chose broccoli, Brussels sprouts and other greens that we rarely or never eat at home.

So What Can a Crafty Cook Do?

Although a large number of kids do not eat enough vegetables research has shown nearly all of them are able to name a favourite vegetable.

In younger children this was often the Mother's favourite too.

The top 6 Vegetables For Kids were found to be

  1. Corn 32% which is the favourite for boys
  2. Broccoli 29.4 % the favourite for girls
  3. Carrots 23.2 %
  4. Green Beans 17.2 %
  5. Potatoes 11.8 %
  6. Tomatoes 11.4 %

Starting from the child's favourite veggie and using it more often and in more meals is one way to build a healthy habit of eating more vegetables.

Another devious way forward is to hide the vegetables. No I don't mean just pop a vegetable under pile of spaghetti but to puree the veggies. This is a good strategy for younger children.

Of course using greens and other veggies in a Green drink or smoothie is a great and healthy way to help children get the nutrition they need to grow and stay healthy without battles.

So I'd love to hear of your experience of introducing and cooking vegetables for kids and what worked for you. Was it with soups or salads or some other sneaky way? Do tell your best way of preparing vegetables for kids!

Photo Credit USDAgov

How Vitamin B Benefits the Whole Body

showing some vitamin B lingoIn the discovery of the group of vitamins we now call vitamin B or B Complex, researchers looked at both the health of people and animals and birds.

But now we even have some fascinating experiments by the science staff at USC on how vitamin B is important for Marine life too.

Before we look at that lets' do a quick "Round the block" on the B vitamins and what they do for our health and then share the latest story on how vitamin B benefits not just ourselves and our families but oceans too…

B vitamins are often given numbers just to make things clearer, after all B1 is a bit simpler than thiamin, B2 than Riboflavin and B12 is much simpler than hydroxycobalamine!

So here we go…

B1 – is essential for energy production in the brain. If you can't concentrate maybe some extra B1 would help…..

B2 – this is about energy production in your cells from your food and about the regeneration of glutathione –


Glutathione is what recycles all that nice vitamin C you take and helps you get more out of it. So protecting it and recycling it is major good news and B2 does exactly that, OK?

B3 – is massively important for your circulation and heart health. It lowers LDL and raises HDL cholesterol, lowers triglycerides and fibrinogen.

This is super powerful just for a simple vitamin!

B5 – is an Anti-stress vitamin. It gives your adrenals and probably I should say your poor battered adrenals some much needed support.

B6 – boosts hormone balance, and immune function which is great for PMS.

And we'll briefly look at a couple of B vitamins without a number…..

Biotin – Helps Amino acid and fat metabolism, it also increases glucose sensitivity something those of us who need to lose weight seriously need, it also strengthens nails and hair.

Folic acid – lack of folic acid raises your risk of a heart attack and lack of this in pregnancy leads to neural tube defects in the baby and yet this is most common vitamin deficiency in the world.

Of course the vitamin naysayers will tell you that we don't need to take extra vitamins because they say that, "we get what we need from our food".


If that was true there would not be any vitamin deficiencies, no babies born with neural cord defects, nobody with poor nails and skin; nobody with too much stress and all of us with fully optimised immune systems and tons of energy.

Fact – The only real issue is how much extra we need.

First of all its probably best to go with what I call a "B 50" – this is 50 mg dose of the main B Complex vitamins with smaller amounts of others such as B12.

And if that gives you the change you want then that's the dose for you and if it does not then try 2 of the B50 tablets a day rather 1.

If that does not do it I would not push the dose higher but think again!

Really high doses are rarely needed – usually you just need a slightly different approach.

BTW Adding a cleanup of your diet with dropping sugar, sodas and junk food is only going to help!

How about the Marine life Story Alex?

Tiny plants in the ocean also need vitamin B.

showing an algal bloom off southern coast UKSome parts of the ocean have less vitamin B than others. Research was done into whether it was in these places that the famous algal blooms spread out.

The blooms are big outbreaks of algae in the ocean – A bit like acne breakouts on the faces of teenagers!

The research so far shows that run off from farms may feed the break outs. It could be that B vitamins may play their part too although whether this would help prevent the algae or power it's growth is not clear at present.

So I'm not sure whether we need to sprinkle some B vitamins on the ocean or not but we certainly need to take our own vitamin B supplement.

In case you'd like some help finding good vitamin B supplements I have found a few high quality examples and put links to them below.

Even if you take a multi or combo vitamin product you will almost certainly need to boost the tiny tiny amount of vitamin B in it with a good B complex like this because you can't get a decent amount of vitamin B into a general multi – there just isn't enough room in the tablet.

Vitamin B benefits so many body systems to think that it is the most common vitamin deficiency in the world and it is so easily fixed is quite startling.

Here are some good options at Amazon…

Photo credit wiki

Bee Pollen and Flower Pollen Health Benefits

bee on whte flowerHoney, Propolis and Royal Jelly are some of the health products we get from the efforts of bees but when I first heard of "Bee Pollen" I was puzzled.

Surely they meant "Flower Pollen"?, I wondered. Since I'm sure other people are puzzled as well it's time to set out clearly what bee pollen is and what it can do for us.

Flower Pollen is the seed collected by bees in their foraging for food. Of course flowers produce their pollen for their own propagation and not for bees or for us.

But when bees collect flower pollen they take it back to their hive and make Pollen balls consisting of flower pollen along with nectar, enzymes, fungi and bacteria from the worker bees.

So bee pollen is flower pollen plus plus plus!

One problem in the way of understanding bee pollen is that it varies so much. Just like honey depends on the flowers and trees that the bees visited and even on the season, bee pollen varies a lot in composition.

This extract from may help to get a general picture

It is rich in vitamins, minerals, trace elements, enzymes, and amino acids, and contains approximately 30% protein, 55% carbohydrate, 1% to 2% fat, and 3% minerals and trace vitamins. Vitamin C concentrations of 3.6% to 5.9% have also been found in some samples.

The high protein content brings it into the range of the superfoods chlorella and Spirulina. Interesting, so what else is there?

Bee Pollen Benefits

Athletic Performance

There are mixed messages with regard to how much bee pollen helps athletes improves their performance. One study showed that bee pollen helped athletes recover faster after exercise and another showed that it helped athletes avoid days of illness. The studies were small and not well designed however.

Prostate Health

Many men find that as they age the prostate gland enlarges and inhibits urination. This health problem is called BPH – benign prostate hypertrophy. Some times this is treated with the herb Saw Pelmetto, aka Serenoa Repens.

An extract of flower pollen called Cernitin® seems to have anti-inflammatory and anti-DHT properties and it also works on the urinary tract helping to maintain a healthy flow of urine.

According to the Life Extension Foundation

Chemical analysis of Cernitin® indicates that it contains many constituents, including vitamins and minerals, carotenoids, amino acids, enzymes, phytosterols, lipids, and fatty acids.

Good research has been conducted on Cernitin® and many benefits have been found including help in arthritis, and recovery from a wide range of problems such as wound healing, influenza and radiotherapy.

Note – DHT stands for dihydrotestosterone and is a powerful and possibly problematic version of testosterone.

Menopausal Symptoms

A study involving pollen and Royal Jelly showed significant reduction of nervousness, anxiety, irritability, headache, and most importantly hot flashes.

Summary of Bee Pollen Benefits

The state of the evidence I have reviewed shows that bee pollen and flower pollen are potentially valuable health supplements. The trials have shown some impressive results concerning both prostate health and menopausal symptoms showing some potential for use as an anti-aging supplement.

So far, so good, beyond that all I would say is that provided you are not obviously allergic to honey or other bee and flower products then these Bee Pollen supplements may be worth a personal trial.

As to whether they are superfoods – in my opinion I would say, no. Mind you there is no agreed definition of superfoods and if you tried Bee Pollen and healed something major you may well disagree.

What impressed me in doing the background reading for this article was that Bee Pollen benefits both male and female middle age health problems

Try for yourself and let me know your reaction and opinion, OK?

Photo credit blathlean

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