The importance of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a superstar vitamin. More correctly, it’s actually a hormone. If levels are too low, this is bad news for health. I’m talking cancer, osteoporosis, rickets in children, asthma, tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis (and other autoimmune diseases), heart disease, diabetes and dental problems.


  • Sun cream. Your body makes vitamin D after contact with the sun’s UV rays but, as we’re a nation of sun cream fanatics (and this covers the skin, blocking the rays of sunlight from getting through), you might not be getting enough straight-up sun.
  • Age. Among other things that go a bit wrong as you get older, your body is less good at turning the rays from the sun into vitamin D. Specifically, the kidneys are less good with age at turning it to the active form of calcitriol.
  • Kidney or liver disease of any kind also means vitamin D is not converted to the active form.
  • Tummy troubles. Problems with the digestive system (and I’m not talking about disease here – just an imbalance that may cause anything from a few manageable symptoms to more serious trouble ‘downstairs’) mean the digestive tract does not absorb the vitamin D as well.
  • Obesity (technically that’s a BMI or body mass index of 30+) has the fat cells in your body hoover up the vitamin D. So then it’s stored – unusable – in your fat cells and is not whizzing around your body in your blood.
  • Lack of sleep. Just as you need sunlight to make vitamin D, you need sleep to actually use it.
  • Stress. The presence of the stress hormone cortisol reduces the uptake of vitamin D by special vitamin D receptors. It literally sits there, in the body, without being able to be used. What a waste!
  • Your skin colour. The darker your skin, the less vitamin D you will make. This is due to the higher levels of melanin in your skin that protect against UV light. By blocking the sun’s rays, it also curbs the body’s ability to make the pre-cursor to the active vitamin D.
  • Nightshift workers and anyone else who doesn’t spend much time in the sunlight, including children wearing sun cream all the time and babies. Quite simply, you need the sun on your skin.


Research shows you’re 11 times more likely to be depressed if you have low vitamin D than if you don’t.

Vitamin D can put the brakes on the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. 


  • Depression or anxiety (including mood changes or irritability)
  • Bone softening (low bone density), fractures
  • Feeling tired all the time/ decreased performance
  • Muscle cramps and weakness
  • Joint pain (especially back and knees)
  • Difficulty regulating your blood sugar levels/ post lunch energy crash
  • Low immunity
  • Slow wound healing
  • Low calcium levels in the blood
  • Unexplained weight gain

Symptoms like these are commonly overlooked because they don’t feel life threatening, and they’re often dismissed as normal, everyday aches and pains you have to deal with. But you don’t have to put up with these symptoms of ill health!

If any of the above resonates with you, then you should definitely get tested. You might find your GP will do this for you. My experience is that they are usually amenable to this particular test. If your doctor won’t test, consider getting it checked out privately. In the big scheme of things the test is not expensive but it could change your enjoyment of your life

The test is the 25-hydroxy vitamin D test (also known as the 25-OH vitamin D test or Calcidiol 25-hydroxycholecalciferol test). It’s the most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body. Your doctor will want to know that there is a valid reason for having you tested. Go back through the list of symptoms and go in strong with this being the reason why you want to be tested.

If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t want to ask, feels uncomfortable asking or is just curious to know their levels, you can get the test done privately for £44. It’s a finger prick test, so you can do it easily at home, then get guidance on how much to supplement safely. If this is you, and you want to know more, just hit reply to this email and we’ll talk.

If you do take a test and you’re very low, you’ll need an intense 4-6 weeks supplementation at a high dose and then re-testing to see the impact it’s had. There is such a thing as too much vitamin D (known as vitamin D toxicity). You’d have to be going some way to get there, but it is possible, which is why it is essential you know your levels before you start guzzling any supplements. I know what you’re thinking. Here’s a few of those ‘yes, buts’ you have going on…


  • I already take a vitamin D supplement.
  • I go out in the sun quite a bit
  • Wouldn’t my doctor ask to test me if they thought it were a problem?
  • I’m too busy to take time off to take a test.

If you seriously have nothing wrong with you, if you didn’t identify with any of the symptoms in the list, then don’t bother. But if you did…And here’s a cautionary tale… one of my clients enjoyed sunning herself in the garden this summer with no sun cream (except for her 2 week holiday in August). But in spite of it being mid summer, her levels were only ¼ of what they should have been. The moral of this story is, be tested.


  • Get yourself some sun. Recommended sunlight exposure is between 10 and 30 minutes a day with no sun cream.
  • If getting out in the sun is not an option, sit in front of a light box that supplies 10,000 lux of full-spectrum light for 30 minutes every morning. This is an especially good option for winter months, for night shift.
  • Take a supplement. You can take a generic 1,000 IU dose as an adult (but not children without consulting your GP) BUT, if you’ve no idea what your blood levels are, how to you know how much you should be taking?
  • Eat naturally vitamin D-rich foods like oily fish (salmon, sardines, fresh tuna, trout, halibut, mackerel, et.), high quality cod liver oil, egg yolks and liver. Do not be fooled into thinking the fortified foods are the same or have similar benefits. Fortified foods (like cereals, margarine and some yoghurts) contain a synthetic version of the vitamin known as D2 (the natural form is D3). Research shows this is less effective at raising levels of vitamin D in the blood

Click here to read the full article written by Nutritional Therapist Marianne Andrews of

Staying healthy at Christmas

Strike the balance

Try to stagger your celebrations so you’re giving your body a chance to recover in between and have a couple of days of healthier habits. Don’t let one night of drinking and eating open the floodgates for the entire period. Enjoy yourself by all means but don’t wait until New Year’s Day to get back on it. Make your next meal nutritionally sound and keep pulling yourself back to your ‘healthful’ ways when you can

Stay Hydrated
Key is to stay well hydrated. Try to start the day by drinking 500ml first thing every morning alongside 2000mg of vitamin C  (Viridian Extra C) and 500mg of combined acetyl l-carnitine and lipoic acid, which will help to support energy, detoxification and liver health. Aim to drink a further 1.5l of water throughout the rest of the day, especially when you feel hunger pangs. Adding apple cider vinegar to water will also aid digestion and control sugar cravings.

Eat protein
Have a protein smoothie or a boiled egg before you go out to avoid arriving hungry and reduce the desire to reach for the canapés. This will also help you to make better food choices.  Bananas are also another good pre-party snack as they are rich in potassium, which can help to balance out electrolyte depletion caused by alcohol.

Pre and Probiotic foods
Increase your intake of pre and probiotic foods in the run up to Christmas to help to support your gut microbiome.  Alcohol can really interfere with the gut microbiome.  Foods such as garlic, onions, oats, apples and fermented foods.  Beetroot is a superstar antioxidant and known to have a protective effect on liver cells.

Taking a quality multivitamin can be a good insurance policy, a probiotic to support gut health and an omega-3 to help to reduce inflammation in the body and skin and brain health.

Be mindful of sugar
Keep your blood sugar levels stable by pairing high-GI foods with lower-GI foods.  For example – be sure to eat your roast potatoes with some turkey, salmon or nut loaf  and add a handful of nuts to balance the balance out the sugar spike from your Christmas pudding.

Try to avoid the crisps and pastry-based canapés and choose olives, nuts, hummus and crudités instead where possible.  Don’t be afraid of healthy fats found in olives, nuts and avocado.

Look After Your Liver
Don’t make the mistake of fasting all day to compensate for what you will eat later.  Instead, eat a light and nutritious lunch or brunch, ideally with protein and greens, which are great for liver detoxification. Eggs or smoked mackerel or smoked salmon with dark green vegetables are  great options.  Stock up on Brussels sprouts, kale, cavolo nero and cabbage, which provide incredible support for the liver,

Help your hangover
The liver’s ability to break down alcohol diminishes with age. Be sure to fill up on antioxidant-rich nutrients. A protein smoothie is a great breakfast option (add vitamin-C rich berries, spinach, avocado and ginger).  Drink a glass of water with a spoonful of apple cider vinegar to help to alkalise the body and flood it with minerals.

Boost Serotonin Levels
We naturally feel more tired on dark, winter days due to less exposure to sunlight, which affects our levels of Vitamin D in the body.  This has as direct effect on our mood and energy levels. Increase your intake of foods such as salmon, eggs, nuts and seeds, and fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, yogurt and sauerkraut to trigger your body’s production of serotonin.

Get Outside
Staying motivated to exercise over Christmas can feel near impossible, especially when it gets dark by 4pm. If you can’t fit in or face a workout then make sure you get outside for a reviving 30-minute walk. It can work wonders for your both your mood and energy levels.

Mindful eating
Try to chew your food slowly and take breaks between mouthfuls.  The slower we eat, the more time the body has to tell us we are no longer hungry and the less likely we are to over eat.


Baked Apple with nuts

Baked Apples with Fruit and Nuts


  • 6 large baking apples (preferably organic) unpeeled and cored
  • 20g walnuts
  • 30g dried apricots or dates
  • 25g sultanas
  • 20g pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 1 tbsp of water


  • Preheat oven to 180°C (356°F) gas 4.
  • Mix together the walnuts/apricots/dates/sultanas and finely chop to make a paste.
  • Then mix in the pumpkin seeds, cinnamon and orange zest.
  • Stuff the centre of each apple with the mixture, pressing it firmly into the fruit.
  • Place the apples into an ovenproof dish with the water, then drizzle the orange juice over them.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 20 mins. Remove foil and continue to bake for 10-15 mins.
  • Serve with a dollop of low-fat yoghurt (preferably goats/sheep) or non-dairy alternative.

Recipe by Nutritional Therapist Caroline Shaw of

Winter Chicken Tray Bake

Ingredients (serves three)

  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 3 sweet potatoes, chopped
  • 2 carrots chopped or sliced
  • 2 parsnip chopped or sliced
  • ½ celeriac chopped
  • 2 leeks chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (or fresh)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper


  • Assemble prepared/cleaned/chopped/sliced vegetables on large baking tray.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt/black pepper. Roll around and coat everything evenly.
  • Sprinkle salt/pepper on either side of chicken thighs.
  • Arrange chicken thighs, skin side up, on top of the vegetables
  • Roast at 425°F (220°C) for about 40-50 minutes or until the chicken skin is crispy and internal temperature reads 165°F (73°C)

Recipe by Nutritional Therapist Caroline Shaw of

Menopause and its symptoms

Menopause and its symptoms  – isn’t it great that we actually talk about it now? It is no longer taboo, it is simply another phase of life;  in fact, probably another one third of a woman’s life is spent in menopause. Which means that there is another third of life to embrace and to make sure that you do everything possible to get through in the best shape that you can possibly be in – and sail through (hopefully) menopausal symptoms.

Did you know that in Japanese there is no word for hot flashes?  There are parts of the world, Asia, especially Japan, that don’t even recognise it as a condition. Women of a menopausal age in these countries tend to experience less severe hot flashes, less insomnia, less night sweats or vaginal dryness, or increased heart rate.   It is interesting to wonder why this is.  Could it potentially be the difference in the way that we eat and fuel our bodies?  

Phytoestrogens are known to be really beneficial to reducing menopausal symptoms. In most Asian cultures, the consumption of phytoestrogens is much much higher than here in the UK.  Typically these women consume 50-200 mg of phytoestrogens (specifically isoflavones) daily, where as our in our diets it can be as low as 3-5 mg.

So what are Phytoestrogens, and how can we increase them? Phytoestrogens are plant foods which as the name suggests, have their own oestrogen-like components.  They don’t add oestrogens to your body – so they won’t give you an excess or make you oestrogen dominant, but what they will do is balance up the ones that are already there.  

They literally act like a key and stimulate beneficial effects in the brain, bone, heart and bladder.  In the breast, womb and ovaries they can help to block the stimulation of somethings called alpha receptors, which can produce cancer.  All in all, they are a good thing and something that we need plenty of in our diet – every day.

There are three main types, and here are a few ideas of how to make sure that you are getting plenty.

  • Lignans – Flaxseeds are one of my favourite as they contain potent phytoestrogens.  There’s research to suggest that they can help to reduce hot flushes and vaginal dryness.  Ground flaxseeds are so simple to add into a bowl of porridge or overnight oats, or stir into a smoothie.  The great thing about them is that they have a variety of plus points.  
    • They are chock full of good oils.  These are the oils that help your skin and your heart.  
    • They are full of anti inflammatory fats and they help your body make to hormones too.
    • Flaxseeds are one of the ultimate soluble fibre foods. Great for bulking out those bowel movements and flushing out your system, so to speak. 
  • Chia seeds are similar.  Good for making up a chia pudding as an alternative to porridge.  They have more fibre than flaxseeds and more calcium too –  although less of an oestrogenic quality than flax. 
    • You can also use the ground flax or chia as an alternative for eggs in vegan cooking.  Because the oil content is so high, when it’s mixed with water it has a binding effect similar to using an egg.
  • Isoflavones – This second group of phytoestrogens are hopefully those that you may already use widely. Chickpeas, red kidney beans, cannellini beans, haricot, peas – all the legumes are wonderful sources of isoflavones.  And what we should be aiming to do is to add some of these foods to our diet every single day.  
    • There are over 300 foods which contain isoflavones.  But what you need here is variety, because those 300 foods all contain different types of isoflavone and each has a different benefit. 
    • It could be as hummus, or a lentil dhal, falafel or just padding out a casserole with some black beans.   They are such versatile foods.  Or a pea and ham soup for lunch?  Or even a nice warming lentil and bacon soup?  The possibilities are endless!  
    • When we think about including them in our diet then we should think about volume.  For most women, our intake of peas, lentils, chickpeas is probably just a tablespoonful here and there. In parts of South East Asia these foods are staples.  

If you’re still at the perimenopausal stage, then you could benefit by starting to add in a couple of portions a day since research has shown that A diet high in legumes delayed menopause on average by one-and-a-half years!

    • Soya is a beneficial isoflavone  but only if it is eaten in the traditional way.  Often in this country it is completely over processed with products being made from soya protein isolates.
    • Aim to buy organic whole soya bean products, or soya that is fermented, such as in tempeh, miso, Tofu, miso bean soy paste, and tamari.  
  • Coumestans are the final group of phytoestrogens.  You find these specifically in sprouted mung and alfalfa beans. 
    • Sprouted seeds are always a great thing to add to your diet.  If you think about what you are eating here, it’s the powerhouse of the plant.  
    • It’s full of nutrients – including  enzymes which in turn affects how the body breaks down carbohydrates. 

These are just a few of a myriad of things that can help you to feel more like yourself in the next phase of your life. We are all different, and finding what works for you is where I can help you. As a Nutritional Therapist I specialise in helping mid-lifers get themselves back on track. Why not book in for a Free Better Health Chat now and take steps to make sure that this phase is the best time of your life.

Type 2 Diabetes

As the nights draw in, daylight hours decrease and temperatures drop, it is understandable we reach for foods that help to keep us warm and comforted. Our food choices however, do not need to be laden with calories and sugar to give us what we need. In fact, for many of us, it’s essential they are not. We now know, through extensive research that the health of our gut microbiome is essential to the health of our body/mind. We now know that many diseases originate from a malfunctioning digestive system – for instance – Type 2 Diabetes. There is a revolution happening in our guts and it’s not that it has altered dramatically but our understanding of it certainly has.

The number of people diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in the UK and worldwide is growing year on year. It is one of the most common long term health conditions and is estimated to cost the NHS around £12 billion a year. In the UK, more than 4.7 million people have Type 2 Diabetes and a further 13.6 million are believed to be at higher risk. 

Type 2 Diabetes was formerly known as non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes due to its occurrence mainly in people over 40. However, Type 2 Diabetes is now becoming more common in young adults, teens and children and accounts for roughly 90% of all diabetes cases worldwide. This increase has been connected to the climbing levels of obesity.

Type 2 Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that results in high blood glucose levels, hyperglycaemia, due to: 

  • Cells in muscle, fat and the liver becoming resistant to insulin, which means the cells don’t take in enough sugar.
  • The pancreas can’t make enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range. 

Insulin is a hormone that comes from the pancreas — a gland located behind and below the stomach. Insulin controls how the body uses sugar in the following ways:

  • Sugar in the bloodstream triggers the pancreas to release insulin.
  • Insulin circulates in the bloodstream, enabling sugar to enter the cells.
  • The amount of sugar in the bloodstream drops.
  • In response to this drop, the pancreas releases less insulin.

Glucose, (a sugar) is a main source of energy for the cells that make up muscles and other tissues. The use and regulation of glucose includes the following:

  • Glucose comes from two major sources: food and the liver.
  • Glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream, where it enters cells with the help of insulin.
  • The liver stores and makes glucose.
  • When glucose levels are low, the liver breaks down stored glycogen into glucose to keep the body’s glucose level within a healthy range.

In Type 2 Diabetes, this process doesn’t work well. Instead of moving into the cells, sugar builds up in the blood. As blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas releases more insulin. Eventually the cells in the pancreas that make insulin become damaged and can’t make enough insulin to meet the body’s needs.

Type 2 Diabetes is a serious medical condition, which over time, may damage other organs of the body. It can often require the use of anti-diabetic medication, or insulin to keep blood sugar levels under control. However, the development of Type 2 Diabetes and its side effects can be reduced or prevented if detected and treated at an early stage.

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes often develop slowly. In fact, you can be living with Type 2 Diabetes for years and not know it. When symptoms are present, they may include:

  • Frequent urination.
  • Increased hunger.
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Increased thirst
  • Fatigue.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Slow-healing sores.
  • Frequent infections.
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet. 
  • Areas of darkened skin, usually in the armpits and neck.

Health factors that may increase the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Having a waist size of 31.5 inches or more (women) or more than 37 inches (men)
  • Eating an unhealthy diet
  • Long term use of anti-biotics
  • Physical inactivity
  • Genetic disposition and/or having a first degree relative with Type 2 Diabetes
  • Having high blood pressure or raised cholesterol levels
  • Smoking

Type 2 Diabetes can also develop in people who are not overweight or obese. This is more common in older adults and is called Skinny Diabetes 2.

The good news is, that in recent years, it has become apparent that many people with Type 2 Diabetes are able to reverse the condition through methods including low-carb diets, low-calorie diets and exercise.

According to a study on the microbiome detailed in Dr James Kinross’s book Dark Matter, new research is starting to provide some insight between the gut and Type 2 Diabetes; 

A recent analysis of more than 2,166 Dutch people, (which accounted for many of the environmental confounders of the microbiome), confirmed that those with Type 2 diabetes have less microbiome diversity and less butyrate (a major short-chain fatty acid produced during gut flora-mediated fermentation of dietary fibres) production in the gut, compared to age and sex-matched non-diabetic people.

He goes on to say,

The implications of low-level inflammatory process in the gut in obesity and Type 2 Diabetes are significant for all aspects of our health. … they are very likely to disrupt the gut-brain axis, exacerbating the addictive nature of food. 

This is why people with diabetes are advised to avoid dietary sugar. For many people with Type 2 Diabetes, this is all they have to do to stay well. If you can keep your blood sugar lower by avoiding dietary sugar, it is likely you will never need long term medication.

What can I do to prevent or reduce the effects of Type 2 Diabetes?

  • Eat healthy foods. Avoid processed foods and choose foods lower in fat and calories and higher in fibre. Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Get active. Aim for 150 or more minutes a week of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity, such as a brisk walk, bicycling, running or swimming.
  • Lose weight. If you are overweight, losing a modest amount of weight and keeping it off may delay the progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes. If you have prediabetes, losing 7% to 10% of your body weight may reduce the risk of diabetes.
  • Avoid long stretches of inactivity. Sitting still for long periods of time can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Try to get up every 30 minutes and move around for at least a few minutes. 


  • Full fat dairy products including cow’s milk, cheese, cream, ice cream etc
  • Refined sugar
  • Packaged snacks, including biscuits, sweets, cakes, crisps, and any processed baked goods.
  • White carbohydrates, including white bread, pasta, sugar.
  • Sweetened breakfast cereals
  • Dried fruits, which can be high in sugar.
  • French Fries
  • Excessive alcohol


  • Sweet potatoes
  • Berries
  • Salmon
  • Oatmeal
  • Nuts/seeds (avoid non-organic peanuts)
  • Yogurt. Yogurt has many benefits, but best to choose, goat/sheep/coconut, preferably with added Kefir.
  • Salads including, cucumber, celery, tomato, spinach, lettuce, rocket, grated carrot, beetroot, fennel, celeriac, avocado, beansprouts, herbs.
  • Quinoa. Quinoa is a nutrient-rich seed that is often referred to as an ancient grain.
  • Vegetables of all shapes and sizes including, broccoli, kale, beans, cauliflower, celeriac, fennel, peas, carrots, mushrooms, spinach.

Although Colon Hydrotherapy is not recommended for people with Type 1 Diabetes, where the body is unable to produce insulin, it can be a very beneficial support for anyone with Type 2 Diabetes. It can help detox the intestinal tract from the accumulative inflammatory effect of eating unhealthy foods, especially excess processed foods. Then, following a healthy diet which includes the addition of pre-biotics and probiotics, plus infusions of high potency good bacteria directly into the colon (following a colon hydrotherapy treatment) the positive health-giving benefits of a diverse microbiome can be rebuilt. This, in turn, can help support the liver to manage its production and regulation of glucose.

Summer Belly by Caroline Shaw

It’s that time of the year – the holiday season – you pack cases, children, dogs, into cars and planes, chase the sun, a sandy beach, a handy ice cream hut/cocktail bar and of course you feel bloated and uncomfortable.

As much as you long for a break, away from the normal pressures of everyday life¬¬, holidays can play havoc with your digestive system. Heat itself can swell the gut, capillaries expand and the bacteria/yeast organisms that thrive on sugar/starch multiply and release more gas. Then there’s the stress; the getting to and from your vacation destination can be fraught with tension; juggling children, flight cancellations, traffic jams, we’ve all been there. When you arrive there’s no guarantee your accommodation will provide the R&R you crave.

I remember settling into a B&B room with my daughter once when she suddenly screamed and jumped out of bed. There were spiders, more than one and she suffers from Arachnophobia. Let’s just say it took a while to catch the creatures and set them free.

A ‘regular’ digestive system craves stress-free routines and holidays rarely provide that. More than 100 million nerve cells line the gastrointestinal tract from oesophagus to rectum called the enteric nervous system, ENS. The ENS communicates with the brain via the Central Nervous System and vice versa. When under stress, you release more Cortisol and the brain influences the intestinal tract accordingly. Conversely dysbiosis in the microbiota (colonies of gut bacteria) can influence the release of more Cortisol and symptoms of anxiety and depression back to the brain through neuro transmitters. The brain can affect the motility of the gut and the gut can send messages to the brain of well-being or unease. It basically means holidays can trigger constipation or/and diarrhoea.

Maybe the motor home/tent/B&B/hotel/condo/cottage/villa plus pool is perfect, everything you anticipated and more, the next hurdle is food. If you cannot take your own supplies, or if you run out, you are stuck with whatever the establishment/local shops/restaurants provide. You may be lucky, you may have gluten-free/dairy free/sugar-free/organic options or delicious home-grown food on tap, but it’s more than likely you don’t. You are subject to whatever is available. Remember, most establishments tend to buy (in bulk) the cheapest version of ready-made/processed foods.

However, you’ve decided you don’t want to be worrying about what you eat when you’re away. This is your holiday godammit and you’re going to eat/drink whatever you want, when you want. For example; you’re racing to catch a plane your stress levels are high, the need to eat is extinguished, you don’t feel hungry. Then, you’re on the plane settling down in your window seat, your appetite returns, all that’s on offer is the in-flight menu. You choose the pizza twists and gin and tonic, which set off a chain reaction of awfulness.The “bad” bacteria have a field day feasting on the sugar/starch and your stomach struggles to digest processed food in a pressurized air cabin. You have bloating and indigestion and you’ve not even arrived at your Air B&B.

As a tip, Ginger can reduce nausea and help promote digest juices as well as soothe, motion sickness.
Before you regret booking the five-star hotel on Lake Maggiore, there are strategies to help you survive and also allow a little indulgence. When you first arrive at your holiday destination give your brain/gut time to adjust. Avoid alcohol and stick to simple foods – choose veg/salad, and proteins that have been steamed or poached. Eat less rather than more. It’s probably hot and you just don’t need to ingest as many calories to keep warm. Go for a gentle walk or swim. You will need to rehydrate, drink water but also remember black/green tea is rich in flavonoids and can have a ‘cooling’ anti-oxidant effect on the body. Avoid fried foods or rich meals cooked with alcohol, or cream/dairy. Remember to take your time chewing foods before you swallow. By the second day your body may be able to tolerate a more varied diet including a glass of red wine, which again, is high in flavonoids, but keep it simple. Choose more vegetables, fruits and herbs over starch and proteins. However, if you are in a country where water quality is poor or/and hygiene preparation is questionable, stick to bottled water/drinks and cooked foods. It’s just not worth picking up a nasty bug from a lettuce leaf rinsed in foul water. If you feel your tummy reacts, revert to foods that are easy to digest – mashed/puréed/smoothies etc. If possible, you can always try a cleanse day of wonderful freshly squeezed juices. Always check out local specialities. Real Greek yoghurt, for instance, is delicious and is made from the milk of sheep or goats that roam the hills and forage on herbs, flowers and grass. It is full of good bacteria which is heaven for your gut. Whatever country you’re in try their locally sourced raw organic honey. It can help assuage a sweet tooth as well as feed you anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins.

(Cooked with foods, or added to salad)
Ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, bay leaves, cardamon, cloves, oregano, artichoke, dandelion
peppermint, cumin, fennel, dill, tarragon, parsley.

Travel proof probiotics
Locally sourced natural yogurt, preferably goats/sheep
Fruit for breakfast (peel off skins if not organic) mango/papaya/kiwi/pineapple/figs, apricots/peaches/dates
Teas such a Green/Black which are rich in flavonoids
Nuts and seeds such as flax/chia/sunflower/sesame/hazelnuts/walnuts/almonds/pine nuts/chestnuts
A mix of vegetables celery, cucumbers, asparagus, olives, kale, beets, leafy greens, lettuce spinach, radishes

If you have a tendency to constipation when you’re away I recommend, you take a pack of gentle herbs with you. Senna can be harsh, you might want to choose herbs such slippery elm, fennel, dandelion, liquorice, rhubarb, ginger, peppermint. I keep a blend in stock at CHHC. Also, take with you, probiotics – both Optibac and Viridian, for instance, supply products fit to survive being packed in a suitcase.

If all goes haywire, remember a simple colon hydrotherapy treatment before you go away, or/and on your return, can quickly help get rid of unwanted nasties and assist the integrity of your gut. This can be combined with an infusion of good bacteria for optimum restoration of health in your intestinal tract.

How to Motivate Yourself: Why Shame Doesn’t Work. Natural Health Care tips with Jeni Howland

I often think about how to motivate clients to make better decisions. As I work with clients who want to feel better in some way or other, there are often obstacles around the changes that they may need to make, be it related to movement, diet, self-talk, addictions, self-care etc.

There are some methods which rely on shaming: such as dieting mantras that suggest that you are “less than” because of your size, or “stop smoking” campaigns that suggest that the best reason to stop is so that you don’t smell so bad. Some methods would find what motivates you to change by finding what triggers your pride and then work on that to motivate you to make different decisions. These things may work to an extent. However, if you try to change yourself based on shame or fear, then you will ultimately end up simply redirecting the focus of negative intention elsewhere. This is why I work with my clients to change habits, coming from a place of love. This is harder in the short run but is much more profound in its results.

But what does this mean? How does one use gentle love as a force to change, rather than the more powerful noise of fear?

First, we must identify what triggers negative feelings: social anxiety, fear of failure, being ridiculed for something as a child etc. Next, we might look at where this comes from, but it isn’t always essential to pick this apart in too much detail. If there is need for delving into the pieces of a challenging past then a talking therapist can be an essential element to the journey of choosing to make changes. We then must look at how we can choose love, self-care, and compassion. We can start small here – perhaps noticing someone or something else for which these feelings can be felt. And then use these feelings to start to form new, positive habits. This is different for everyone and for some this is a challenging journey with many twists and turns.

I firmly believe, and will always promote:

We cannot shame ourselves into change; we can only love ourselves into evolution

If you have a habit that you’d like to change, perhaps try this very simple trick:
Think of someone you love, and chose to make that change for them, or with them in mind.
For example, you might want to be happier, so you might choose to simply smile more often. So, when you look in a mirror, you think of that beloved person, and you smile at them. Every time you pass someone in the street or in a shop, you see something of that beloved person in the people you see, and you smile at them. Before you know it, you will develop a habit of smiling, from an honest place of love. And you will also have developed your ability to connect with a feeling of love which can only lead to better self-care.
For comparison, if you chose to smile from a place of shame, rather than a place of love, you will find a very different long-term impact. For example, you might decide to smile in order to hide how depressed you feel. This means that you will smile at people just as often as in the previous example, however, every time you smile, rather than evoking love, you are reminding yourself that you must do this because of a feeling of depression – you are exercising the neural pathways between your conscious habits and your feelings of depression and your feelings of shame around your depression.

Which do you think is more useful? To exercise and build your ability for love or your ability for shame?

As a Kinesiologist I can help to deduce what you need to do to balance your own health, mentally, emotionally, nutritionally, bio-chemically, physically, and energetically.

Jeni Howland practices Kinesiology, Somatic Yoga Therapy, Reiki and Aroma Touch – a gentle massage technique. Jeni also teaches Kinesiology Foundation courses – the next one will commence in September at the Cheltenham Holistic Health Centre. contact Jeni directly for more information or to book an appointment:

Nourish your skin from within

Nourish Your Skin From Within

There are many skin-care products that dominate shop shelves and magazine pages, but does what you eat affect your skin and how does your overall health relate to your skin health?

Your skin is the largest organ in the body. It is your protector as it acts as a barrier between your insides and the rest of the world. Your skin prevents “bad” things from getting in and allows waste products to get out through sweat, while preventing leakages of the things that need to stay in. Your skin creates its own sebum to keep it moisturised and supple and it absorbs and processes useful things such as sunlight to make vitamin D. Your internal mucosa – the skin lining from your mouth down through your body on the inside of your body – is a continuation of this durable and essential organ.

Did you know that the skin is linked to the lungs and the large intestine? Chinese Medicine groups the Lungs, Large Intestines, and the Skin together under the umbrella of the Metal element. When the Metal element is out of balance, this may manifest as allergies, bronchitis, shortness of breath, nasal congestion, a cold, sore throat, digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhoea or abdominal pain, skin rashes, hives, or psoriasis.

The pores of the skin are known as the ‘doors of Qi’’, allowing energy to flow into and out of your body. The health of your skin is a direct reflection of the strength of your Lung Qi and your body’s ability to eliminate that which should be eliminated and to absorb that which should be absorbed.

The emotion that is most often related to this system is grief, as this is the ability or the ease with which we can let go of that which cannot remain. Grief, in some form or other, may be out of balance when there is a physical imbalance in the skin, lungs or large intestines.

Eating a balanced and healthy diet and drinking plenty of water is essential for keeping your skin well maintained and in full functional health. Important and beneficial nutrition will depend on your own circumstances, diet and imbalances, and may include: Omega 3 fatty acids (think oily fish like salmon, or flaxseeds), Omega 7 (sea buckthorn oil), Vitamin C (fresh fruits and veg), Vitamin A (orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes, butternut squash and carrots), MSM (eggs and legumes), Silica (green beans and leafy greens), Selenium (Brazil nuts), and Biotin (eggs, almonds, sweet potatoes).

Looking after your digestive system and ensuring that you are avoiding foods that cause irritation or trigger sensitivities or allergies is also very important for the health of your skin, and this is different for every individual. The skin often deals with the fall-out of a challenged digestive system, and this can manifest as rashes, hives, shadows under the eyes or psoriasis.

Exercising to enable your skin to sweat also helps to keep your skin healthy and nourished, so get out and enjoy the summer – go for a hearty walk, do some gardening, or take a yomp. Don’t forget to cover up or apply your favourite mineral sunscreen!

As a Kinesiologist I can help to deduce what you need to do to balance your own health, test whether you have any intolerances or sensitivities, and test which supplements would be most beneficial for you. Contact me directly to book a session in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire or Ledbury, Herefordshire.

Spotlight on digestion, food and related symptoms

What you eat is fundamental to your overall health.
If you’re eating foods that your body doesn’t currently receive & process well, this can lead to mental as well as physical problems over time.
Some examples of food related symptoms include:
Brain fog
Joint pain
Low energy/fatigue
Inability to lose weight
Low mood or anxiety
Stomach pains
Constipation and diarrhoea
Eczema, spots or acne
Hyperactivity in children
Did you know that through Kinesiology and food sensitivity testing, you can confirm food intolerances and find out which foods your body is taking on board and absorbing and which foods you’re struggling with?
So finding out which foods may be contributing to these symptoms is key in returning you to full health and wellbeing  .Food testing is simple and non-invasive.   During a session, foods are placed on to the body and a muscle test is carried out. If the muscle weakens we know that particular food is draining the body of energy, or in other words, the body is intolerant to that food.  Food sensitivity testing is always carried out as part of a wider & thorough digestive balancing session.
Our fully trained and qualified Kinesiologists balance the body in a holistic way, ensuring that it’s working at optimal levels to receive, digest, process and use the energy the food has provided. This means addressing any underlying emotional factors, confirming any vitamin or mineral deficiencies and finding the right supplements for your unique case, working on any structural issues and ensuring there is flow in your energy systems.
Jeni practices as a Kinesiologist at CHHC on Tuesdays and Saturdays and has a Kinesiology Foundation course commencing this September.
For more information or to book a Kinesiology appointment with Jeni, email