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Acorn Health Blog

What we love is great health...

...and we like to write about how we can all achieve better health, naturally. Sometimes tips on how you can DIY to better health and sometimes on the therapies that can make a difference to you, your health and wellbeing.
Thank you for reading, We hope you enjoy :)

Do I have a food intolerance?

General Health & Wellbeing Posted on Tue, November 30, 2021 01:49PM

A food intolerance (otherwise known as non-allergic food hypersensitivity), is a condition of the digestive system. It involves some form of negative reaction, which is caused by the body’s inability to properly digest a particular food, food additive or other compound found in food (or drink).

Food intolerances are far more common than true food allergies. They also tend to occur more commonly in women, and one reason for this may be hormone differences as many food chemicals act to mimic hormones.

In the majority of cases, both food allergies and intolerances develop over time; so a food that was once tolerated well might suddenly begin to make you feel ill. Symptoms may begin at any age and, while they can be wide-ranging, some of the most common ones are:

  • stomach bloating
  • water retention
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • diarrhoea
  • skin rashes
  • weight gain
  • head aches
  • mood changes
  • cravings (ironically, often for the foods responsible for the intolerance or allergy)
  • mouth ulcers
  • recurrent bladder infections
  • fatigue

What causes a food intolerance?

In simple terms, food intolerances can be caused by various chemicals (both natural and artificial) that are present in a wide variety of foods. The reaction experienced is usually the result of a deficiency in, or absence of, particular chemicals or enzymes in the body that are needed to digest a particular food substance.

The role of digestive enzymes

While we eat food for the nourishment of our bodies, our digestive systems can’t actually absorb food in its whole form; instead it absorbs nutrients. So before it can be useful, food has to be broken down into its constituent parts, such as amino acids (from proteins), fatty acids (from fats) and simple sugars (from carbohydrates), as well as vitamins, minerals, and a variety of other plant and animal compounds. Without this efficient process of digestion, which converts nutrients into a form that is absorbable by the body, we would not be able to survive. Digestive enzymes are central to this process. They occur naturally in whole foods (such as fruit, vegetables and plants), but they are also manufactured by the body to assist digestion. While this mainly takes place in the pancreas and small intestine, digestive enzymes are also made in the stomach and even the saliva glands of the mouth. If you don’t eat a diet that contains enough enzyme-rich foods (e.g. a diet high in refined and processed foods), or your body does not produce enough of its own enzymes (e.g. because you are sick, elderly or under stress), it will struggle to properly break down food. This can lead to certain digestive complications and complaints, including:

  • fermentation of food in the stomach and small intestine
  • putrefaction in the colon
  • increased activity and overgrowth of harmful bacteria and parasites
  • poor absorption of nutrients.

In particular, the inability to efficiently digest food can contribute to the development of food intolerances. This is because, if you have poor digestion, your intestinal lining can become irritated and what is known as “leaky gut syndrome” can develop. In susceptible people, any partially digested food particles can seep into the bloodstream, strain the immune system and lead to food intolerances, and even allergies in extreme cases.

Food allergy vs intolerance

Food intolerances and allergies are very different. As mentioned above, an intolerance is a digestive system response. In contrast, a food allergy is an abnormal response to food, which is triggered by the body’s immune system. A true food allergy requires the presence of certain antibodies against the offending food, whilst a food intolerance does not. What’s more, the antibodies tend to lead to an immediate reaction whenever the offending food is eaten. This distinction is important because, while a food intolerance may lead to some unpleasant symptoms, it is not life-threatening and symptoms tend to come on more gradually – usually within half an hour, but sometimes as long as 48 hours after ingestion of the substance which is causing a problem. An allergy, on the other hand, is usually a lot more serious and may even be fatal in extreme cases (e.g. through anaphylaxis).

Some common examples of food intolerance include:

  • Lactose intolerance – The most common food intolerance is to lactose, found in milk and other dairy products. It is caused by the body’s inability to properly digest high amounts of lactose, the predominant sugar in milk, because of a shortage or absence of the enzyme lactase.
  • Gluten sensitivity – Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related species, including barley and rye. The term “gluten sensitivity” is used to describe those individuals who can’t tolerate gluten and experience symptoms similar to those with coeliac disease, but yet lack the same antibodies and intestinal damage as seen in cases of coeliac disease. Interestingly, although coeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder caused by an immune response to gluten, it can also result in gluten sensitivity, as well as temporary lactose intolerance.

How is food intolerance identified?

Food intolerances are often more difficult to diagnose than food allergies, because they tend to be more chronic, less acute and therefore less obvious in their presentation. For example, there are no antibodies present to look for. As such, they are most often identified through a simple trial and error approach – a dietitian or nutritionist will go through a process of elimination with the individual, removing suspected problematic foods and systematically re-introducing them back into the diet, looking for corresponding improvement and worsening of symptoms. Bioresonance testing is another, much faster method of identyfying any potential food intolerances with results usually available at the time of testing. Other methods of diagnosis include hydrogen breath testing for lactose intolerance and fructose malabsorption and ELISA testing for IgG-mediated immune responses to specific foods.

Living with a food intolerance

Once the offending food or foods have been identified, the best advice is to avoid them wherever possible or to embark on a desensitizing treatment. This is likely to lead to a reduction, and hopefully over time, the total elimination of symptoms. Fortunately, nowadays there are a number of specialised “free from” foods and health supplements available online, in supermarkets and in health food shops, which help to make life a lot easier for those with food intolerance. However, with any diet where there is restricted food choice, it is important to ensure that you are still getting all of the nutrients you need on a daily basis. Severe food intolerance can, for example, lead to excessive weight loss and, occasionally, can even result in the individual becoming malnourished. Optimum nutrition can be achieved through careful meal planning and appropriate supplementation.



Stress and Mental Health

General Health & Wellbeing, Therapies Posted on Tue, October 19, 2021 02:23PM

Would you limp around for hours, days, weeks or even months on end if you broke your leg without going to the doctors or hospital? Most people will say no, that’s ridiculous! and yet that’s what so many people do with their mental health. They limp, suffering often for years without reaching out for help.

Here are some tips to help you with your mental health on Stress Awareness Week:

Busy your body

Use your physical body to help your mental health. Look at your activity and what you’re eating and drinking because all can have a profound effect on your mental health. If you’re not moving enough this will impact negatively. The easiest way to change that is to get up and move but make it something that you enjoy doing so don’t just walk around the block for the sake of it but visit your favourite place and walk around it whether that’s in the countryside on the beach whether it’s visiting a museum or going out somewhere for a dance but something that’s active and something that you enjoy.

 When it comes to eating and drinking, they can have a big impact too we all know that alcohol can make us feel good but that effect is only temporary, and it has a longer term effect of causing low mood and even depression so if you’re drinking most days the chances are it could be impacting on how you’re feeling even if you don’t realise it. So to look after your mental health it could be good to have a few days off or maybe just leave drinking to the weekend if you don’t feel like cutting it out completely.

Nourish yourself

What you eat makes a difference. Just as eating junk food makes you sluggish in your body it also slows the functioning of your mind. A recent study on children and the effects of eating junk food and ready meals it shown that it makes a significant difference and actually appears to cause anxiety and depression in teenagers and early adulthood when children eat a lot of junk food as they’re growing up so we now know that it’s a sad fact.

But it’s changeable. Choosing densely nutritious foods make your body sing, they make it feel alive. Your body will absolutely love when you give it the food that it really needs that contains all the nutrients to create optimum health, and this has an impact on the way that your mind works too.

We know that our mind works on a complex balance of chemicals and what we put into our body creates those chemicals so if we’re putting the wrong things in then we’re going to get the wrong results out. Have a look at how you could clean up your diet.  

So we’ve covered physical and we’ve covered what that can do to help your mental health but now we’ll look at what we can do with our minds to help our minds feel better:

  1. Meditate. Meditation has been proven to have a positive mental health impact. You don’t need to be a super Buddhist person or sit crossed legged, because the average person probably can’t manage that or can’t manage it for long. Just sitting comfortably or lying down for a short while even just five minutes maybe listening to some calming music, maybe using a guided meditation or just having that peaceful time when you focus on whatever is around you rather than the busyness of the day.
  2.  Being kind to others. This can be random acts of kindness or it can be something that you do for somebody that you’re planning (this does not mean that you’ve got to be a pushover it doesn’t mean going over the top), but when we are kind to others it has a reciprocal effect. We feel good for doing it, they feel good for receiving that kindness and the world becomes a better place for everyone.
  3. Being kind to yourself. We’ve talked about kindness to others but remember it is not a selfish thing to do things for you. It is vital for you to have your own time and space to do the things that you love, that you enjoy, so make the space. Make it priority and then just do it and don’t just do it once make it a regular thing so you have some regular me time to do the things you love.

The combination of all the above things can make a massive difference to how you feel in your mind as well as your body.

If you’re struggling- get help. Whether that’s just talking to a friend and letting everything out, whether it’s counselling, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy  or some other kind of therapy…

There’s no point in letting yourself suffer.  Don’t limp round with poor mental health when there is help available. You deserve to feel well <3



Spotlight on: Beetroot

General Health & Wellbeing Posted on Tue, September 28, 2021 01:50PM

So you think you know beetroot – the humble root vegetable, so often found in pantries in its pickled form since World War II.

But truly, it is so much more. In fact, it is a nutritional powerhouse now widely regarded as a superfood!

Humble beginnings

The beetroot is no stranger to the average household. Also known as “table beet”, it is one of the many cultivated varieties of Beta vulgaris and the most common variety found in Britain, North America and Central America today. In the earliest days of its consumption, the leaves were most commonly eaten by people living in the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.

The Romans then began to make use of the root for various medicinal purposes. Over the years, it became popular in Central and Eastern Europe for culinary purposes too. Beetroot, as we know it today, was only cultivated in the 16th century. You may be surprised to learn that modern varieties are derived from the sea beet, an inedible plant that grows wild along the coasts of Europe, North Africa and Asia.

A super-root in disguise

Unlike some of the other, better known superfoods, like wheatgrass, spirulina or acai berry, beetroot is not overtly exotic. But don’t let that fool you! What has traditionally been viewed as a boring, somewhat unappetising vegetable, is really a “super-root” in disguise! It is a rich source of both carbohydrates and plant proteins, along with a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients (considered in more detail below). At the same time, it has a very low caloric value and is almost entirely free of fat. It is also a low-GI food – the sugar conversion process is slow, which supports stable blood sugar levels.

Antioxidants

You can’t have failed to notice the vivid colour of beetroot – whether the deep purple, the bright yellow or the lesser seen candy-stripes! Like so many other superfoods, these colours offer a visual clue about the high level of antioxidants, carotenoids and flavonoids found in beetroot.

The notorious red colour compound is called betanin (or beetroot red), a pigment which is a well-known antioxidant and phyto-chemical. However, all beets contain betalain antioxidants – a class of red and yellow pigments found in plants.

Vitamins and minerals

Beetroot is also rich in a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals, contributing to its reputation as a superfood. For example, it contains high levels of folate and vitamin C (another powerful antioxidant), as well as riboflavin, niacin and thiamin, vitamin K, calcium, silica, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and iron.

Dietary fibre

Beetroot is high in dietary fibre – both soluble and insoluble. A 100g portion “ about two or three small beetroot “ contains as much as 10% of your recommended daily allowance. Fibre is an essential component of healthy digestion and supports everything from stable blood sugar levels to natural cleanse and detox processes in the body.

Dietary nitrate

More recently, much research has been undertaken on beetroot’s capacity to absorb and store exceptionally high levels of nitrate – a nutrient involved in many of the processes that are essential for efficient exercise performance, including blood flow and oxygen usage. In particular, a study conducted by Exeter University in the UK received a lot of media attention when it found that cyclists who drank a half-litre of beetroot juice several hours before setting off were able to ride up to 20% longer than those who drank a placebo blackcurrant juice. Since that study, both beetroot and beetroot supplements have been of particular interest to athletes.

Supporting health and vitality

The unique combination of nutrients found in beetroot mean that it can offer ideal support for all-round health and vitality, including:

  • a healthy heart and cholesterol levels
  • detoxification and liver function
  • a strong immune system
  • healthy homocysteine levels
  • normal tissue growth
  • musculo-skeletal health
  • healthy skin, hair and nails
  • stable blood sugar levels
  • stamina and energy levels
  • stable moods
  • and healthy digestion.

Belonging to the same family as two other nutritional titans, chard and spinach, both the leaves and roots of beetroot can be eaten. Incorporate it into your daily diet and your body will thank you!



‘A Beautiful Mind is a Colourful Mind’

Therapies Posted on Tue, September 28, 2021 10:44AM
mind mapping colours

“How you allow yourself to think today, directs the actions of your heart tomorrow”

-Theo Gimble

Your mind is continuously growing and creating your world. The saying goes: if there’s something in your life you’re not happy with, then change your mind about it. Changes don’t come from without, they come from within. Your mind is a very powerful chamber that is continuously:

  • Conceiving Thoughts
  • Birthing Ideas
  • Creating Reality

To explain how the mind works really is an impossible task, and I’m certainly not a mind reader!! But I have found a way to show how you weave in/out of the following:

  • Left & Right Brain
  • Feminine & Masculine
  • Intuit & Logic
  • Lunar & Solar Energy

The purpose of a Mind Map is for you to see how your thoughts form, and it will highlight your repeated patterns and habits that have held you captive.

Understanding ‘How and Why’ you think they way you do is the key ingredient to bring about changes in your life.

A Mind Map will offer you ‘Healing of the Inner-Split’ and restore you to a state of EQUILIBRIUM.



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