As the Winter season settles in, we notice that the days are getting shorter and the nights longer, many of us may be concerned with fending off the dreaded flu or a cold. Flu viruses can affect us mostly during the Autumn/winter months, in particular during October and November, and then peaking between December and February. Influenza is an acute viral respiratory infection caused by RNA viruses and results in fever and myalgia in infected people, whilst colds are caused by different viruses, and symptoms are usually much milder.Although we can’t prevent cold and flu viruses from making their winter appearance, however we can make sure we are consuming a healthy diet (rich in vitamins and minerals, good fats), taking regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and reducing stressor and stress in order to help to bolster the immune system. Furthermore, practicing good personal hygiene, and good health habits such as covering your mouth when coughing and washing your hands, can help stop the spread of germs. If you are already unwell, a healthy diet and certain supplements can help ease cold and flu symptoms (see lsit below).
Other alternatives to consider
• Adaptogens (holy basil, reishi, ginseng)
• Herbal teas and preparations for symptom control (pelargonium sage, thyme, oregano, ginger, wild cherry bark, yarrow, elder flowers, honey, etc.)
Most people with the flu, usually have the ‘mild’ illness and do not require any medical care or antiviral drugs, in most cases, it is advised that they should stay at home and avoid contact with other people until they are better.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that exists in two main forms: vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). It is estimated that around one billion people worldwide (almost 50% of the population) across all ethnicities and age groups may have insufficient Vitamin D levels. For many people, the symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency may be subtle. However, even without symptoms, low levels of vitamin D can pose many health risks.
Avocado fruits (Persea Americana) are deliciously creamy in texture and taste and are incredibly versatile as they can be added to salads, soups, pasta dishes, made into pancakes, and added to smoothies and are now available frozen as a quick and easy option. Avocados are a great source of fibre, they are rich in vitamins including the B vitamins, vitamin K, E and C, and mineral’s potassium and copper as well as being rich in monounsaturated fats.......
what’s there not to love Confused about what oils to cook with.......try avocado oil
As well as avocados being a delicious and nutritious food, their additional benefits can also be obtained by using the avocados natural pressed oil as a tasty and healthy option in the kitchen for cooking, baking, grilling and roasting. Avocado oil is made from the fruit pulp and not the seed, whilst most other popular oils are made from the seed including, sunflower, pumpkin, flaxseed oil, whilst Olive oil is made from both from the fruit and seed.
What makes avocado oil so great
Avocado oil contains beneficial levels of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid (9 omega) as well as containing other fatty acids (omega 3 and 6) all found to offer many health benefits – see below . Furthermore, Avocado oil has a stable structure with a high smoke point (520 degrees Fahrenheit), which means it to be used for high temperature cooking. No other oil, including ghee, tallow or lard has a higher smoke point, making avocado oil the best choice for high heat cooking. Furthermore, Avocado Oil is thought to be a good replacement for extra virgin olive oil, especially since olive oil is best when cooked at lower temperatures.
Other oils including soy, canola, flaxseed, pumpkin seed and corn oils that have been found to break down and burn at high temperatures which means that the flavour from the oil is lost, and its beneficial nutrients are destroyed.
How to Use Avocado Oil
Avocado oil can be used for roasting and grilling root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots and turnips. It can also be used in salad dressings, marinades, soups, stir-fries, baked goods, sauces, smoothies, pesto, pizza, and kale chips and you can drizzle it on just about anything.
The many health benefits associated with avocado oil
Recent research shows avocado oil’s fat and plant pigments may offer
Antioxidant protection by fighting against free radicals whilst decreasing oxidative stress, avocado oil has been shown to improve energy production for cell function and prevent mitochondrial dysfunction (1).
Improved skin health: avocado oil can treat skin wounds by increasing collagen and reducing inflammatory cells (2). It’s a great moisturiser for skin and hair
Improved Psoriasis: a combination of vitamin B12 and avocado oil effectively treated patients with psoriasis. The anti-inflammatory properties in avocado oil can also provide relief to those with other skin conditions, including eczema and keratosis pilaris (3).
Reduction in Periodontal disease: avocado oil and soybean oil was found to reduce inflammation by inhibiting por-inflammatory cytokines molecules in periodontal ligaments and bone cells when used as a mouthwash (4)
Improved Symptoms of Arthritis: Extracts from avocado and soy bean oil may reduce the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis. Avocado oil has even received prescription drug status in France because of its proven ability to counter the negative effects of arthritis! (5)
Lowers cholesterol and heart health: The beta-sitosterol in avocado oil has been found to reduce cholesterol and heart disease in various studies. The oil has been found to improve the overall blood lipid count and reduce the concentration of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol (6)
Helps improve weight loss avocados support weight control, through its oleic acid content. Diets that are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids such as oleic acid can protect against abdominal fat accumulation. (7)
How to increase the histamine lowering DAO enzyme naturally
Do you experience unexplained anxiety or suffer with random headaches? Do you avoid drinking red wine as it causes red face flushing? Do you get a swollen or itchy tongue when you eat avocados or bananas?
If you can relate to any of these frustrating symptoms, then you may have histamine intolerance
What is histamine intolerance?
Histamine Intolerance occurs due to the overproduction and accumulation of histamine in the body and the inability to break it down, resulting in a range of chronic symptoms similar to an allergic reaction (1). Other symptoms associated with histamine intolerance include gastrointestinal disorders (Irritable bowel syndrome), sneezing and nose congestion (2). urticaria (3), atopy, itch (pruritus), and asthma (4).
Although histamine intolerance symptoms can be triggered by certain foods and some of the symptoms mimic an allergic response, the good news is that histamine Intolerance is not considered to be an allergic reaction as it is not mediated by an IgE, immune system reaction, as found with real food allergies, and for that reason is not usually considered to be life threatening. However, the symptoms of histamine Intolerance can be quite severe and debilitating for some sufferers, affecting their quality of life. Unwanted symptoms can impact on the enjoyment of eating out and social events, leading to a constant worry over what to eat.
Recent research shows that at least 1 percent of the world’s population have histamine intolerance and out of those almost 80% affected are middle-aged women (5). Frustratingly the existence of histamine intolerances is frequently misunderstood and underestimated by the medical professional. A diagnosis of histamine intolerance can be supported, by the presentation of two or more of the typical symptoms of histamine intolerance (6). Although understanding the root cause or causes of the development of histamine Intolerance is vital for the appropriate management of symptoms (1).
Diamine oxidase deficiency DAO symptoms
Research has shown that there are several different reasons for developing histamine intolerance (7) however, primarily histamine Intolerance occurs due to an inability for the body to break histamine down, or to clear it out. This process requires two naturally occurring enzymes Diamine Oxidase ( DAO ) and histamine N-methyltransferase ( HNMT) . However, due to either genetics or acquired reasons, the body might not be able to produce enough of one or the other, or both of these (1). Recent research has found that DAO Enzyme Deficiency accounts for over 70% of all Histamine Intolerance (8).
The DAO enzyme, is produced in the intestine, mainly in the intestinal mucosa and its function is essential to breaking down the histamine in the foods that are consumed (1). An impaired DAO enzymatic function and low levels of DAO may lead to reduced DAO activity, which has been found to affect the body’s ability to breakdown and degrade histamine intake. Low DAO levels or an impaired DAO function may lead to an excessive build-up of histamines in the body associated with histamine intolerance (8) Reduced DAO activity has been found to affect multiple organs ( lungs, skin, cardiovascular system, brain, gastrointestinal ) leading to numerous symptoms ( as mentioned above) and can occur even after the ingestion of a small amount of histamine (8).
Elevated histamine concentrations are also associated with an imbalance between the amount of histamine that is released from the cells in response to certain triggers, as well as a build-up of histamine in the body as a result of foods eaten (9). Many Histamine-rich foods and certain beverages have been found to be involved in the accumulation of histamine. Histamine is an organic nitrogen compound, which is found in particularly high levels in certain foods, in addition some foods contain other biogenic amines ( such as cadaverine and putrescine ) which have also been found to trigger the release of histamine and both are associated with elevated histamine levels (10). For example, many migraine sufferers report headaches triggered by histamine rich foods, which are associated with reduced DAO activity, reporting complete relief from headache symptoms when consuming a histamine-free diet (11).
Histamine as well as other biogenic amines are present many different foods at varying levels, the highest concentrations of histamine are found predominately in microbially fermented products, which increase with maturation (12) including aged cheese, sauerkraut and processed meats (12) Alcohol, especially red wine is rich in histamine and is a potent inhibitor of DAO (13). The ingestion of wine is associated with an increase of plasma histamine levels, and the occurrence of sneezing, flushing, headaches and asthma attacks, (13). Although foods such as citrus fruit contain very little histamine, they have the capacity to release histamine directly from tissue mast cells, leading to increased levels (13). However, symptoms don’t always appear immediately, they may appear when the body accumulates histamine throughout the course of the day. An additional benefit of adopting a low-histamine diet is that it serves as a further diagnostic tool, when diagnosing histamine intolerance.
What causes a DAO Enzyme
There are several factors that may reduce DAO activity including
Genetic inheritance - genetic mutation
Medications – both prescription and over-the-counter.
Female hormone imbalance (oestrogen to progesterone)
Gastro-intestinal diseases (Irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and Ulcerative colitis, Celiac disease and Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth SIBO)
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies: Vitamin b6, vitamin c, zinc and copper, are required to make DAO.
The ingestion of histamine-rich food
Alcohol as a blocker or inhibitor of DAO
vicious circle may occur if there is impaired DAO activity, resulting in
increased plasma histamine concentrations (14) which in turn leads to unwanted
symptoms, which have been shown to inhibit NHMT activity, the second enzyme
required for metabolizing histamine (14).
How to increase DAO enzymes
To date research has determined that there are many factors that negatively impact on the amount of DAO synthesised in the body (1,15). The good news is that acquired histamine intolerance may only be transient and potentially reversible.
Encouraging results of a recent study have found that dietary modification and increased intakes of certain nutrients can lead to improved symptoms associated with histamine Intolerance. A study carried out in 2017 was able to establish that certain nutrients could positively influence DAO transport and DAO bioavailability, ready for the body to utilise more efficiently. Furthermore, specific dietary modification was found to regulate the transportation of available DAO into the gut and bloodstream, thereby positively impacting on the degree and location of DAO activity (15).
Favourable results were achieved by the dietary modulation of fats, in particular increased intakes of the Omega-9 fatty acid - monounsaturated fats , a primary source of oleic acid . Intakes of Olive oil, in particular were shown to substantially increase the release of DAO into the blood stream, in fact by up to 500% (15). Other good sources of oleic acid include avocado, lard, and nuts like macadamias. Oleic acid has been shown to have many other health benefits such as supporting heart health and blood circulation, when consumed as part of a Mediterranean diet (16).
The pro-inflammatory Arachidonic Acid , a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid, found in offal, fatty red meat, dairy, especially hard cheeses and eggs was found to cause the highest increase in histamine, when compared to other foods (15). In addition, increased intakes of linoleic acid , a polyunsaturated - omega six fatty acids , as found in vegetable, nut and seed oils (including flaxseed and canola oil) also led to elevated histamine levels. Reducing intake of Omega six, as found in processed foods and vegetable oils, whilst increasing intakes of Omega 3 fats – essential fatty acid (including fatty fish, seafood) has been shown to beneficially moderate inflammation in the body and help reduce the risk and symptoms of associated diseases (15). Moderate intakes of alpha-linolenic - or omega-3 also an essential fatty acid was found to lead to only a moderate histamine release, although only a modest amount is converted to the beneficial EPA and DHA form of omega 3 (15). Alpha – linoleic acid is found in chia seeds, hemp seeds, herbs, and sprouts, and in lower amounts in broccoli, zucchini, avocado, cauliflower and onions.
The Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), also known as medium-chain fatty acids, found in coconut milk and coconut oil have reported antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties (15). Moderate consumption of this fatty acid was not found to elevate histamines levels in the body.
intake is responsible for the release of DAO in the gut. Consuming a wide-range
of grass-fed organic protein and including protein sources from fresh seafood
were found to lead to a beneficial increase of DAO activity (15). Good quality Ingested protein may help to
release DAO from the intestinal mucosa into the gut, helping to deal with
ingested amines and histamines, whilst preventing a build-up of histamine
levels in the body.
How to implement changes
Consuming local organic produce, fresh grass-fed protein, whilst avoiding artificial ingredients and pesticides has been associated with increased DAO activity. A wide range of fresh produce, organic wholefoods, herbs, sprouts and vegetables can be consumed to obtain a balanced and nutritious diet.
Balancing fats effectively has achieved beneficial results regarding DAO activity. By utilising the heat stable oils, including ghee and pressed coconut oil for baking and cooking at high temperatures, as well as regularly consuming oleic acid including olive oil and macadamia oil for light cooking, frying and drizzling, whilst avoiding industrial seed oils, sources of linoleic acid to help to improve DAO function (15).
Further beneficial dietary changes can be made by avoiding high histamine containing foods, DAO blocking foods, DAO-blocking drugs as well as supporting healthy gut function.
Additional Nutritional Support
Deficiency of the DAO cofactors, zinc, copper and vitamin B-6 and vitamin C, has also been associated with elevated histamine concentrations and reduced DAO activities. Therapeutic Supplementation of both these water-soluble vitamins, and minerals may offer further relief from the symptoms of histamine intolerance, supplementation has been associated with the increased activity of DAO (17,18).
Increased DAO levels in the body can also be achieved through DAO supplementation. Recent research has found that irrespective of whether or not histamine was ingested, additional DAO supplementation led to a reduction in symptoms of histamine intolerance  DAO supplementation has been found to help release DAO into the bloodstream, helping to actively degrade amines and histamine throughout the whole body (8)
there are several beneficial dietary changes that can be made to help prevent
DAO deficiency. The promising results
from recent research has shown that dietary modification can help to regulate diamine oxidase
release. However, further studies are necessary to fully understand the exact
role of fat on intestinal lymph diamine oxidase levels. Therefore, making some
adjustments to the diet may be beneficial in the long run, as dietary intakes
may have notable additional physiological implications.
Oats are a species of cereal grain, that are renowned for their seeds. Oats are a popular breakfast choice as they are sugar free, contain high fibre levels (One cup 81 grams of dry oats contains 7.5 grams of fibre, the recommended daily intake of fibre is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men), helping to slow down digestion and to keep you fuller fore longer. When broken down the sugar is released slowly into the bloodstream, preventing a ‘big blood sugar spike’.
Why not add some berries and nuts to your breakfast porridge for additional health benefits
Oats are rich in a range of important vitamins and minerals, including the B vitamins, folate, Iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese. Oats contain many molecules including polyphenols that act as antioxidants.
A great source of fibre
Oats contain a soluble fibre called beta glucan, which has been found to have a beneficial effect on cholesterol, reducing the’ bad ‘LDL cholesterol as well as reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and inflammatory diseases. Its rich fibre content may help to ease constipation and help aid weight loss as well as supporting healthy weigh maintenance.
Oats are so versatile
When you shop for oats, you may discover several types on the supermarket shelves. It is important to choose the right variety which are either the: whole oat groats, steel cut, Scottish and rolled as these contain the whole oat kernel, as well as the same nutritional value. In contrast Instant, or flavoured varieties often contain sugar, artificial flavouring and colouring. NOTE Although oats themselves do not contain gluten, in rare cases, they are grown in the same fields as wheat or barley, and these crops can sometimes contaminate oats with gluten.
January is love your liver month
The Love Your Liver campaign is a national awareness initiative regarding liver health, run in January by the British Liver Trust – which is the UKs charity for adults with liver conditions. This is good timing, especially after all the Christmas festivities which may have led to overindulgence and weight gain, which could have a detrimental effect on our health. Any weight gain may result in extra fat stored in the liver, whilst increased caffeine and alcohol intake as well morning-after painkillers, may also place additional pressure on this hardworking organ. Giving up drinking in January is more popular than ever, and abstaining and/ or reducing intakes has been found to be beneficial for health. Excess alcohol intakes can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, liver disease, depression, dementia as well as certain cancers, as well as being an ‘empty’ calorie.
How does overindulgence damage the liver?
The liver filters around one and a half litres of blood every minute, working hard to rid the body of toxins such as: alcohol, caffeine, drugs and food additives. Oxidative stress can increase when the liver tries to break down alcohol and other toxins, which may cause damage to the cells in the liver. Furthermore, alcohol can damage the intestines, which means that toxins from the intestine can get into the liver, leading to potential inflammation and scarring. The liver also turns glucose into fat, which is sent round the body, and it is stored for use when we need it. Alcohol affects the way the liver handles fat, increased intakes lead to fat being build up in the liver. If the liver is being bombard with too many toxins we can eventually overstretch our liver’s resources. Furthermore, excess body weight, and obesity are risk factors for a Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease NAFLD, which is associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome
How to protect and repair the liver? The good news is that the liver has the remarkable ability to repair itself. In order to support your liver, The Love Your Liver campaign suggests :
Reducing alcohol intake – abstaining for 2-3 days in a row each week;
Increasing physical activity - take more exercise and stay fit;
Reducing intake of sugar and saturated/trans fats.
There are a number of dietary measures that may also to help to support an overburdened liver. Foods and beverages that may help to promote healthy liver function include:
Increasing intakes of sulphur rich foods including garlic, legumes, onions and eggs and the Cabbage family such as cauliflower, cabbage and sprouts
Increasing intakes of (soluble) fibre rich foods such as pears, oat-bran, apples and legumes
Increasing your intake of water, keeping hydrated with 8-10 glasses of water a day.
Supplements may offer additional liver support, and support the livers detoxification process
Highfields Vitamins MSM Methyl Sulphonyl Methane - 120 tablets - £9.95 – This supplement is a form of sulphur – and may help to support the sulphation process in the liver, which is the chemical process used to detoxify substances such as alcohol and Paracetemol
Viridian Organic Milk Thistle – 30 tablets - £8.85 – An antioxidant supplement that may help to support and repair the liver, with much research supporting its benefits in diseases of the liver
1 in 5 people in the UK have a fatty liver, and rates of liver disease in the UK are rising NHS.
it can be hard to notice the first signs of liver issues as the liver has no nerve endings. However, if you feel you have been overindulging over a long period of time and are worried you can ask your GP for a liver function test.The Love Your Liver Roadshow is touring throughout the month of January and offers free liver assessments to the public. Stopping at Portsmouth, Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bradford, Leeds, Middlesbrough and Glasgow. Visit the British Liver Trust’s Love Your Li
January 16th is National ‘Nothing Day’
This day is literally about doing nothing at all , which is not a bad thing considering that we all often lead such stressful lives. During stressful times it is important to take some time out and be kind to yourself, eat well, rest and sleep, allowing your body to recover. Chronic (long -term) stress has been linked to the body storing fat around the middle area (stomach) therefore often stress management may be the most significant steps to help aid weight loss. Managing stress levels as well as consuming a nutritious diet and/or taking supplements my help to support the immune system as well as minimise the negative effects such as weight gain during stressful periods. Consider increasing intakes of fruit and vegetables each day and focus on foods containing:
B Vitamins . Bananas, leafy green vegetables, avocados, nuts, seeds and also meat, fish and dairy products to help support your energy levels.
Vitamin C . Oranges, tomatoes, peppers, kiwi fruit, leafy green vegetables, broccoli are rich in Vitamin C, important in supporting the adrenal glands, which contain the largest store of vitamin C in the body.
Magnesium. Nuts, Leafy green vegetables, whole grains, especially oats, brown rice and beans are good sources. You can also take a relaxing bath with Epsom salts as these contain magnesium that can be absorbed through your skin, which can help to relax muscles and reduce anxiety.
Reduce Caffeine, alcohol, sugar and salt and smoking as these put stress on the adrenal glands, and strip the body of essential nutrients
Increase exercise , even gentle exercise can help reduce stress levels, including Yoga and tai chi, swimming, breathing exercises, meditation may also help reduce stress. Taking time out just to relax can help you manage your stress more effectively.
Sleep: Getting sufficient and quality sleep, whilst eating healthier and avoiding excessive caffeine may help you sleep well and for longer periods.
Coconut oil - The bigger picture
the American Heart Association released a report warning against coconut oil due to the high amounts of saturated fat. This goes back to the current debate over the health of saturated fat and eating fat
it is important to look at the whole picture rather than an isolated ingredient.
Indeed, high saturated-fat consumption in a diet that is low in fibre and leafy greens, and too high in sugar and refined carbohydrates may increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases
However high fat consumption from clean sources such as mono-unsaturated fats (olive oil) and even saturated fat (organic coconut oil) eaten alongside a healthy diet that is low in refined foods and sugars and high in vegetables and fibres has in fact been found to improve cholesterol composition, and be heart protective.
Coconut oil is unusual as it contains medium-chain triglycerides that have been shown to speed up metabolism and assist in fat loss, as well as lauric acid, a component found in breastmilk, which is anti-microbial .
In essence coconut oil is a great health food that can be used for cooking as it has many benefits, however it needs to be consumed as part of a healthy diet in order not to cause additional inflammation in the body.
A Further recent study has reported the benefits of eating Coconut oil, as reported in the Daily Mail.