The Nutrition Coach Blog London Nutritionist The Nutrition Coach offers advice on healthy living, nutrition and diet issues such as IBS, bloating, gluten intolerance and more.

Maximising fertility

October 26, 2009

Fertility is multi-factorial, so there are many things that can affect your ability to conceive.   What you eat, nutritional deficiencies, excess toxicity and lifestyle all have a dramatic effect on the health of your reproductive system. 

However, one substance that is definitely worth avoiding if trying to conceive is alcohol.  It is toxic to the reproductive system and can induce nutrient deficiencies, and research published last week confirmed that couples consuming alcohol whilst undergoing IVF also reduced their chances of conceiving.

Find out more about what to eat to maximise your fertility and contact us to make an appointment for a consultation at one of our London nutrition clinics.

Julia Alderman

Case Study on Detox

October 23, 2009

Jane had complained of being tired for over a year now.  She couldn’t lose weight with the same relative ease as in the past, and although it was only 7 pounds Jane felt uncomfortable, and her clothes felt tight.  And then there was the bloating, which Jane experienced almost every day for no known reason.  Finally, Jane’s skin was definitely looking less healthy than it had been, and she’d even had a few spots recently. Not since her teens!  Some might have put these relatively minor symptoms down to her age, but Jane felt that being in her early 40′s did not have to condemn her to these unpleasant symptoms, surely.

Jane’s diet
Jane believed her “average” diet was quite healthy.  Here’s how a typical day went: Weetabix in the morning with semi-skimmed milk and half a piece of toast with margarine and jam or marmalade. No snack in the morning but 2 or 3 coffees at her desk.  Lunch mostly consisted of a pasta salad with a yogurt afterwards or sometimes a small Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. In the afternoon, Jane grabbed a digestive biscuit with a cup of tea.  Supper was pasta with tomato sauce.

Jane needs “detox” help
Jane’s symptoms could be due to a number of different underlying causes. The spots could be related to female hormones, her fatigue could be due to adrenal fatigue (again, hormonal), her bloating due to food intolerance, and her weight could be a mixture of these and a sluggish thyroid hormone.  However, taken together, these symptoms could also be caused by Jane’s inability to carry out its detoxification processes properly.

Here are the three main reasons why her detox system was suspected as being compromised. Firstly, Jane’s predominantly carbohydrate diet would result in increased insulin levels, which directly reduces the liver’s production of vital detox enzymes (i.e. glutathione).  Secondly, Jane’s diet is lacking in vital micronutrients which are necessary for liver detox Phase One enzyme pathways (cytochrome P450).  Additionally, a variety of nutrients are required for our natural detoxification,  and Jane’s diet has little variety which would result in reduced nutrient intake and so a reduced ability to detox.  Thirdly, Jane’s diet is too low in high quality proteins which are necessary for Phase Two detox enzymes (conjugation pathways).  These key aspects of Jane’s diet could lead to fatigue, sluggish metabolism, spots, and bloating.  The bloating could also be due to the lack of energy that Jane was experiencing, since the digestive system requires much energy to function optimally.

Jane does as she is told
Jane followed the dietary recommendations pretty much to the letter. The good news is that she felt better in all regards within three weeks and said “I just can’t believe that my energy, skin and weight and bloating all improved so quickly on making such simple changes to my diet!”

Jane ate a boiled or poached egg or two at breakfast time with wholemeal toast. She drank water and herbal teas in the day, and reduced her tea and coffee to one or none.  Jane’s lunch consisted of chicken or fish with some carbs like pasta or rice and some fresh salad.  She increased her variety of food overall and consumed less wheat.  She ate fresh veg with a protein food such as lamb, chicken or fish at dinner, with a small helping of rice or pulses.   Jane cut out all refined sugar but overall she didn’t change the amount of food she ate.  On the face of it, she was eating an “average” diet, of a different kind to before. In just 21 days Jane’s year-long complaints were resolved, and she was much happier as a result.

What happened inside Jane’s body?
The change in diet had supplied Jane with a better balanced macro-nutrient intake and reduced her insulin as a result.  This has many benefits on health and on detoxification enzymes and on weight and energy and spots.  She had eaten more variety and fresh veg providing more fibre and micronutrients which are required for her liver detox enzymes.  The increased protein supplied her Phase Two enzymes with the key amino acids they need to function.  This means her body had the nutrients that could bind to everyday metabolic “toxins” and carry them out of the body more efficiently than before.  She would also have had more stable blood sugar balance and adrenal hormones as a result, as well as being better hydrated.

Summary comment about Detox
What follows is designed to dispel a myth or two about detox.  In hindsight, it is possible to say that Jane’s symptoms were not because of some mysterious toxin she had been exposed to, or as an inevitable result of aging.  Rather, the symptoms reflected her body’s inability to deal with the everyday biochemical “potential toxins” due to poor diet.  These natural chemical substances made inside the body everyday need to be bound to a nutrient complex in the liver in order to be eliminated.  The changes in Jane’s diet provided her liver with the key vitamins and minerals and amino acids that her liver needs every day to carry out her detoxification properly.  It is also likely that improved hormonal balance of insulin and cortisol (adrenal hormone) contributed to her improvements.

Jane is not tempted to go back to her old ways!

Check out our Detox courses or contact us at

Detox in the countryside

October 19, 2009

Last week research was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health demonstrating that living around ‘green space’ improves your health, and the impact is particularly noticeable in reducing the rates of mental health problems.

Im sure to most of us this isn’t new news.  Most, if not all, or us feel noticeably more uplifted when we’re out in nature, walking in the countryside, relaxing by the sea or enjoying fresh mountain air.  However, if you live in London or another big city and are juggling a million different commitments it can be difficult to find the time to escape to the countryside for that much needed boost and advanced planning is definitely needed.

The Nutrition Coach is holding its detox retreat from 21-24 January and is set in the glorious Dorset countryside, where you’ll be surrounded by a sea of green and will truly be able to re-connect with nature.  This is a perfect way to start 2010 and will leave you feeling happier, healthier and on track for the year ahead.

Find out more about our New Year detox retreat or contact us to book an appointment at one of our London nutrition clinics.

How Nutritional Therapy Helps Exhaustion

October 16, 2009

If you are feeling tired, exhausted and generally under the weather – the very first thing to do is to go to you GP for them to check the obvious causes. Often the first place to start will be checking your iron status  to make sure you are not depleted – or even to check your thyroid if you have enough symptoms (weight gain, tiredness, constipation, dry skin).  The doctor may even be looking for a more sinister reason why you should feel exhausted – he may check for viral infections too or be looking for any other symptoms that can enable him to make a diagnosis.

In Nutritional Therapy we will be looking at some of the above too – but as we are in functional medicine rather than the medicine of pathology (i.e. disease) we will be usually looking under the reference ranges of most doctor’s tests.  In other words, we consider borderline abnormalities to be something that would be worth treating.  Also we tend to work holistically, which means that instead of just looking at one reason for tiredness we might look for a whole range of reasons why someone might be exhausted.

Adrenal Fatigue
One area often over looked by doctors as a reason for tiredness is suboptimal adrenal function.  The adrenal glands are where you produce your stress hormones.  After periods of sustained and long term stress, you may not be producing the optimum amount of stress hormones that keep you functioning properly.  Adrenal fatigue is the sort of fatigue that is not relieved by a good night’s sleep – and symptoms can range from being tired (obviously), to feeling foggy and a general sense of unwellness.  You may look normal and act normal but you may feel like you are dragging yourself through the day, keeping yourself going with cups of coffee or tea.

What are the causes of Adrenal Fatigue?
Your adrenals can get depleted after long periods of stress or even illness as the adrenal glands mobilise your body’s response to stress – either physical, emotional or psychological.  The adrenals will stimulate the body’s response through hormones that regulate energy production, immune function, heart rate, muscle tone and other processes that enable you to cope with  stress.  Anyone who has a stressful existence can be susceptible to adrenal fatigue, but eating a poor diet, neglecting exercise and burning the candle at both ends can make this more likely.

A real example of adrenal fatigue
Tessa is a very busy mum with 3 young children. She came to see me a few months ago complaining of not feeling quite right and having a continual foggy head.   She had already gone to the doctor who had checked her thyroid function and iron status.  I got her to fill out a questionnaire that eliminated some of the other suspects from our point of view including bacterial/yeast infections.  I decided to test her adrenals (we do this through a saliva test) and I also tested her thyroid through another blood test looking at more parameters.  Although the doctor’s test was negative which ruled out pathology I was interested to see if there was any degree of suboptimal function.

We looked at two stress hormones in the adrenal test – cortisol (flight and fight hormone) and DHEA (a recovery hormone). Tess had low cortisol (the score for cortisol production for a day is 20- 40 and she had 8) and her recovery hormone DHEA was low too.  Her thyroid test came back with high antibodies – which meant that the immune system was engaged.

The first thing we did was improve the diet. She had got into the habit of hoovering up her children’s food and keeping herself going through teas and coffees.  Also, she was entering a marathon and doing a lot of training. This type of exercise tends to lower adrenal function further. She was happy to change to more gentle forms of exercise like yoga.  She was also up for doing some acupuncture as well to support the journey in Nutritional Therapy.

We worked with some dynamic food supplements too – we use licorice (not the type you buy in the shop) – to support the adrenals.  This slows the breakdown of cortisol in the body making it more available.  We also worked with some herbs which are able to adapt to helping either high or low stress hormones .  We also added a range of other nutrients to support her adrenals and thyroid.

It is not a quick fix – the body takes time to heal and mend – especially if we have been abusing it for a while.  But Tess is getting there.  We know that she is, as we regularly retest the adrenals to see if what we are doing is working.  It is encouraging to see the result improving each visit.  She can now see light at the end of the tunnel and with her new lifestyle adjustments won’t get so run down again.

Please read our recent news letter for more on Tiredness/exhaustion

http://visitor.constantcontact.com/manage/optin/ea?v=001ytzJgXCdPi5ppWjQ0TPjhg%3D%3D

Check out http://www.thenutritioncoach.co.uk/stress-and-nutrition.htm

Is stress affecting your health?

October 15, 2009

How do you know if stress is affecting your health?  Most of my clients associate stress mostly with their mind rather than their body.  They get stressed about pressures at work, late running trains, or childcare.

Few realise that stress also has a physiological impact on the body.  One client recently came to see me complaining of constipation and bloating, difficulties falling asleep, and constant colds and coughs.  She was a busy working mum, and was getting frustrated with her variety of seemingly unrelated health problems.

To me, the most obvious common denominator for all the symptoms was stress.

In the case of my client, I suspected that her digestive problems and susceptibility to colds were a result of constant low grade stress down regulating these functions.  To make sure that we were on the right path, I asked her to do a test measuring levels of certain hormones that get produced in response to stress.

Not surprisingly, the results came back showing that she had elevated levels of stress hormones.  One of the hormones, cortisol, also controls our daily awake and sleep cycle, and raised levels can results in insomnia as in the case of my client.

To tackle her symptoms, I gave her some herbal supplements designed specifically to regulate stress hormone production, and some digestive enzymes to reduce bloating and ease constipation.  We also discussed potential ways of incorporating relaxation time into her week.  She was keen to try yoga, and also decided to dedicate an hour or two a week for herself reading a good book or taking a bath while her husband was looking after the children.

Over the coming weeks she noticed that her digestive problems started to ease off, and she was finding it easier to fall asleep.  Once her nutrition status started to recover as a result of the improved digestion, her immune system also perked up and was better able to fight off colds.

Do you think stress could be contributing to your symptoms?  Get in touch and let’s see if you could be feeling better.

Liver and food intolerance tests on our detox retreat

October 12, 2009

At The Nutrition Coach we often incorporate the use of functional tests into consultations.  Functional tests are a fantastic indicator of exactly what is happening in the body, and ensure that a nutrition programme and any supplementation are designed specifically to address a client’s individual imbalances, which are evident from the test results. 

Because tests are so beneficial for seeing exactly what is going on in the body, we will be making York Test Laboratories Liver Check Test and Food Intolerance Test available on site during our New Year detox retreat (21st to 24th January).  The liver test looks at any damage to liver cells, whilst the intolerance test identifies any food sensitivities that may be contributing to health problems.  These are a fantastic addition to our detox retreat, where the aim is to fully support the liver and overall health.

Find out more about our New Year detox retreat, or contact us to book an appointment at one of our London nutrition clinics.

Julia Alderman

Nutrition coach
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