Tweaklet #53 – Psoriasis

Let’s talk skin and specifically Psoriasis. Psoriasis spans anything from dandruff and dry itchy skin to fungal breakouts and cracked and bleeding skin. Anyone who suffers from it knows just how irritating and painful this skin condition can be.

Psoriasis is caused by a pileup of skin cells that have replicated too rapidly. Normal healthy skin cells turnover about once a month, but when you have psoriasis the skin cells pile up way too fast.

It begins in the immune system where white blood cells, that fight inflammation, are mistakenly called into action and end up actually attacking the body.

This is called an auto-immune response and, as research is starting to determine, auto-immune issues often start, or are fuelled by an imbalance in the gut.  Conventional drug therapy only suppresses skin conditions, sometimes successfully for periods of time, but as it is not addressing the cause, this will only ever be temporary. Thankfully, you can help combat psoriasis by following a proper psoriasis diet treatment plan.

Some of the best foods to consume on a regular basis are…..

Foods high in probiotics such as organic raw cultured dairy, like kefir and fermented vegetables which introduce the healthy bacteria and yeast the gut needs.

High fibre foods, which includes eating the rainbow of fruits, vegetables, beans and seeds. These all keep the natural detoxification of your body on track.

Foods high in antioxidants like berries, nuts and kidney beans.

Foods high in zinc – grass-fed meat, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas.

Other things like wild-caught fish Herbs and spices, like curcumin and turmeric. And you can use aloe vera both internally and externally.

And make sure to drink plenty of water. Hydration and detoxification are key.

When you suffer from psoriasis it’s important to exclude, or certainly keep to a minimum, foods that increase acidity and inflammation – which includes processed foods,….. fried foods……….., simple sugars, alcohol, conventional dairy, conventional meats,  hydrogenated oils and caffeine. Keeping your diet gluten-free will also improve symptoms.

It’s never too late to take a new approach to psoriasis or any other skin condition. Making some tiny food tweaks really can help.

I’d like to thank Dr Michael Murray and Dr Josh Axe for providing such thoughtful and practical information on this and so many other subjects.

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Tweaklet #52 – Salmon

We’ve talked about the health benefits of eating fish before and one of the absolute best is salmon. Salmon is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Salmon is nutrient dense and particularly recognised for its high levels of Omega-3s.

The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish or fish oil help enhance bone health to keep conditions like osteoporosis at bay. They act as a natural anti-inflammatory to relieve inflammation and protect the nervous system from oxidative stress and age-related damage.

Studies show that salmon can do everything from helping boost brain function, sperm production and eye sight, to improving bone and skin health. It is full of heart-healthy fats, protein and rich in vitamins like A, D and calcium.

As demand for salmon has increased a lot of it is now produced in farmed conditions. There is a lot of debate about wild salmon versus farmed salmon. Generally speaking wild salmon has a much better nutrient profile than farmed salmon, but the biggest difference is the condition of many salmon farms. Living in a closed environment means the fish are more likely to need to be treated with chemicals which they readily absorb and pass on.

So when you’re shopping for salmon how can you tell the difference between wild and farmed?

The first sign is the colour. Farmed salmon is lighter and more pink, while wild has a deeper reddish-orange hue. Farmed fish will also a lot more fatty marbling in its flesh—those wavy white lines—since they aren’t fighting against upstream currents like wild ones.

Salmon is very versatile. It’s great simply pan-fried. Or it can be grilled or roasted or cooked in a paper parcel in the oven to seal in the flavour. And it takes flavour well so you can add a pesto or a crust or any of your favourite spices or herbs, and turned into an Asian, Indian or Mediterranean delight. You can crisp up the skin or take it off altogether.  And if you can’t buy fresh then good quality tinned salmon is OK too.

I find that even people who aren’t big fish lovers like salmon so if you haven’t had any fish for a while now’s the time to shop for a nice juicy deep reddish orange piece of salmon.

Mmmm, that’s got my mouth watering and some ideas flowing, so I’m off to get some salmon!

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Tweaklet #51 – Demystifying Food

These days it can feel like you need a science degree to understand what products you are shopping for, even what food you are buying! We live in an ever-expanding world, full of information and with that comes choices!

So let’s simplify some of the jargon that has crept into the food world, so that we can make better and more importantly EASIER choices when buying food!

Firstly, what are antioxidants? Our bodies generate their own antioxidants, as do plants and other animals. Antioxidants are molecules that defend the body against free radicals, so they are very important….which leads me to the next commonly asked question, what are FREE RADICALS?!

Free radicals are a little more complicated to describe. They are compounds which are natural by-products of chemical processes that take place in our bodies, such as metabolism.

Whilst natural, they can easily get out of balance, due to the food we eat, the medicine we take and even the air we breathe. It’s a delicate balance and just as things like fast food, alcohol and chemicals can increase free radicals, food such as good quality meat, vegetables and fruits can maintain a healthy balance.

So, let’s recap. Antioxidants keep free radicals in check which means antioxidants are essential for our survival.  Our diets are an the main source of antioxidants and we can find them easily in things like berries, green tea and dark chocolate.

We’ll demystify more food jargon as we go along so that we can make some healthy food tweaks to our diet.

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Tweaklet #48 – Coconut Oil

In the last few years, there has been a growing interest in coconut oil. It’s no longer found just in Asian supermarkets, it’s in every supermarket!

But there’s still a lot of confusion about coconut oil and whether it’s actually good for you. We are still often told that it raises cholesterol. So let’s explore.

Yes, coconut oil is largely composed of saturated fat but it behaves very differently in the body to other types. Recent studies show that coconut oil does not adversely affect LDL, or what we think of as bad cholesterol, whatsoever, and it’s the only saturated fat that significantly increases the good HDL cholesterol.

There are currently over 1500 studies proving that when used in moderation, coconut oil is very healthy food.

Here are some interesting things I’ve learned about coconut oil – it is a natural anti-microbial, which helps to kill bad viruses,  bacteria…, Fungi, yeast and parasites. This is great news for gut health because it helps to weed out unwanted organisms and allow healthy bacteria to flourish.

Plus the type of fat that coconut oil is means it is readily burned as energy and not stored, so it promotes weight loss by increasing the burning of calories.

I love using coconut oil. It adds a slight nutty rich flavour and it has a higher smoke point so it’s great to use in Asian stir-fries and just for medium heat pan-frying generally. It goes equally well in sweet dishes and you can make delicious bliss balls and other sweet treats. You can add coconut oil to smoothies, to oatmeal, to tea and coffee, to homemade mayonnaise and to scrambled egg.

In winter coconut oil goes rather solid and in summer is completely liquid. If you find it annoying to shave off chunks of it in winter, then here’s a tip from The Coconut Mama .com who suggests freezing portions in an ice tray and popping one out as you need it. Thanks, Coconut Mama!

And a big shout out to Dr Michael Murray at Doctor Murray.com, whose up to date knowledge and research on coconut oil is invaluable.

As always look for the best quality coconut oil you can find. It isn’t all about price and you will find good quality brands that don’t cost a fortune.

And that’s it fellow Tweakleters! Another tiny food tweak to get us thinking more about how we can use coconut oil.

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Tweaklet #37 – Fermented Foods

If you’ve been tuning into Tweaklets for a while, you know I often talk about gut health and what a difference a healthy gut makes to our overall health.

Well, today I have another good way to improve our digestion, boost our immunity and help with our weight, which is by eating fermented foods. Those familiar with the concept of fermented foods will cheer and those new too it will shudder. Food that’s been fermented?

I know I get it, I shuddered too!

Fermented foods contain a whole lot of good bacteria (otherwise known as probiotics)….. and research suggests that these mighty microbes help look after our gut.

Here are some fermented foods you can have fun making.

Sauerkraut… t’s not just something you have with German sausage, it’s been around for thousands of years. All it is, is cabbage and salt. Choose a good quality sea salt and add it to your cabbage and then massage the cabbage very well until breaks down and releases all its liquid. Then you simply put it in a well-sealed jar, put it in a dark place in the cupboard and leave for a couple of weeks. It’s delicious and versatile and so good for your gut!

If you like spicy food then try kim chi, the Korean equivalent of sauerkraut. There are many different recipes for this that range from simply adding chilli to a sauerkraut recipe, to the more authentic style that includes adding Asian radish, ginger, green onions, nori, and garlic.  It’s a really interesting process to watch and learn.

Other top fermented foods included Kefir – a fermented yoghurt drink….. Kombucha – a tangy fermented tea. …….Miso – a fermented paste made from barley, rice or soybeans which can be used as a soup or dressing………Tempeh, which is similar to tofu but fermented………and yoghurt.

Fermented food is all about boosting our gut and digestive function and that means better immunity and all-round better health!

So take a look at some recipes and see if one of them appeals to you. Just don’t do what I did and forget about some jars of sauerkraut I made, only to find them a VERY long time later in the back of the cupboard.

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