Focus Group Feedback Event For Hearth App

Hello, I am Sophie and I am developing an app, which provides information about micronutrients, foods and dietary supplements for anyone who wants to improve their dietary health.

Healthy eating, alongside regular physical activity, walking in nature, wild swimming and sunbathing, can keep us fit and healthy. Leading a healthy lifestyle becomes increasingly important as we age, to maintain a healthy body and mind, reduce potential illness, ward off infection and recover quickly from any ailment or injury.

Egg, greens, sauerkraut and orgnaic meet provide plenty of vitamins and minerals in one meal

For the last 50 years, corporations and governments have tried to influence how we live, not always in our best interests. It is now well known that in the late 1970s, early 1980s, the sugar industry lobbied and funded governments, the press and official bodies to recommend a low fat diet and not to regulate sugars and other potentially harmful products such as partially hydrogenated oils that are used to make cheap, processed food and keep driving up corporate profits.

Today, like with tobacco in the last millenium, food manufacturers spend millions of pounds on marketing, promoting, protecting and pushing their products to consumers.

Removing deli counters and replacing them packaged, processed foods further pushes savvy consumers to local indendent retailers

This means that people alive today have the biggest fight to access and afford real, good quality, fresh food, particularly those in urban areas where fast food chains feast on cash and time poor consumers.

Many people have lost track of how to feel well. A nutrient rich diet, adaptable to any eating preferences, works equally on body and mind. When we are young, we absorb vitamins and minerals easily – as does a pregnant woman – and our cells repair quickly, which helps us deal with what we consume. A useful description of processed, fast and junk food is “entertainment” food, which is eaten for fun, not sustenance.

Eating out in the UK makes it harder to avoid dairy, starch and sugar

As we get older, a diverse, varied real food diet is increasingly important to keep our bodies and minds working well, as is daily activity to strengthen our muscles and keep respiratory and circulatory systems working well.

Food cultures all over the world are based on good nutrition, gatherings, using leftovers and using local resources, such as thali, meze and tapas. Having small amounts of a wider variety of foods at each sitting can make any real food tasty, satisfying and nutritious.

Omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA come from ocean caught fish, which feeds on plankton, while grain-fed farmed fish provides Omega 6 fatty acids

Industrialised farming has depleted or stripped nutrients from many mass produced foods, which mean people need to eat more of them to get the vitamins and minerals they are supposed to provide. Refined goods no longer have the nutrients associated with them. Today’s food manufacturers use information about nutrients to add supplementation back in to foods, which have had their natural nutrients processed out.

The industrialised mass food manufacturing process is designed to make foods last longer than is natural, using preservatives and flavouring to replace the macronutrients removed from the item. This means the label can claim it is “fat free”, “gluten free” or “sugar free” but it is also “nutrient free”.

While supermarkets close their deli-counters, leaving consumers to buy packaged, more expensive foods, which have travelled much further to shop shelves, a growing section of society is spurring on quality, natural, organic and nutritious food producers, who are finding more outlets to reach local consumers with their wares.

While a trolley of packaged processed items may be in a bigger quantity and cheaper than a week’s worth of meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, real food can be much quicker to cook and eat over several meals, which guarantees that everyone from single households to large families can get a rich, diverse, varied meal, which is tasty, satisfying and nutritious.

Here is the data, which I compiled from the NHS website’s vitamins and minerals pages, crossed referenced with other sources and removed processed foods with supplemented vitamins and minerals. Micronutrients provide our bodies and minds with the tools they need and when we eat real food, micronutrients are either used, stored or rejected.

This means, the safest way to get the nutrients we need to stay fit and health is through real food. However, our genes, activity and geography determine reactions to foods, such as allergies, nausea, bloating, inflammation, water retention and other prompts that we don’t need certain nutrients. If we listen to our bodies and minds, we get many more answers than we will ever understand but we can start by listening to the only source of health information, which can’t be corrupted by power, money or greed.

Healthy Eating Varies According to Genes, Geography and Lifestyle

When we read “one-size-fits-all” diet advice, it is easy to feel excluded or alienated. Mentions of “5 a day” or “fruit and vegetables” lack context. A gathering of all the information on fat or water soluble vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, dietary fats and specifically foods containing EPA and DHA Omega 3 fatty acids presents a huge amount of overlap but does not add up to the whole picture for many people.

We need to sort the wheat out from the chaff in terms of objective, fact-based information and remove it from the overbearing amount of opinion, advice, conflicts of interest and profit-led agendas.

Humans must trust their own instincts, otherwise loud voices from advertising will overwhelm us – Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

In the United Kingdom, we do not get enough sunlight in the winter to make vitamin D. This was confirmed on the NHS website, when I first saw this information aged 49 in February 2020. The message must have been whispered as I have spent my life, as my parents did before me, voraciously digging for information to stay healthy. Sometime during 2020, in the midst of a health crisis with COVID-19 spreading, the message about nationwide vitamin D deficiency was downplayed into a mere beauty tip.

Lack of time outdoors can make us morose and less sociable, which leads to increased social anxiety – Image by Nina Evensen from Pixabay

Meanwhile, TV adverts for processed, branded and packaged foods, advertised for health such as containing millions of live cultures for the gut, are branded “high in vitamin D”. These taglines are wildly misleading for a number of reasons. Firstly, we would need to eat too much of any foods to get enough vitamin D to replace the lack of sunlight in the winter. For people, who work indoors full-time and do not get enough time with their skin exposed to the sun will be deficient in Vitamin D and no amount of over-priced, miniature pots of live cultures are going to deliver a sufficient amount.

Here, the NHS are blatantly lying to us, with mixed messages, which do not hang together. If we could get enough vitamin D from the diet in autumn and winter, so can we during the summer, when indoors?

During the autumn and winter, you need to get vitamin D from your diet because the sun is not strong enough for the body to make vitamin D.

NHS website, with vitamins and minerals now tucked behind “conditions” updated August 2020, despite the fact that pharmaceuticals use the fact that supplements are not treatments to put people off taking them, even though getting enough nutrients prevents illness and promotes recovery.
No mention of immune function from sufficient vitamin D, nor seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which most Brits suffer every winter.
In February 2020, before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, this clearly said “we do not get enough sunlight to make vitamin between October and April and therefore recommend a 10mcg D3 or D2 supplement. Oh how this has changed! NHS Website 2020

Therefore the NHS contradicts itself on its own page about vitamin D. I’m sure by now you are sick of all the political and capitalist battles being fought in the field of your own health. What is the answer? How do we navigate this minefield of corruption, which has infiltrated our public sector healthcare system?

I almost threw my bottle of Vitamin D3 away, which I had bought a year before after sifting through all the information and pharmaceutical smears about supplements I could find, as it was 25mcg, more than double the recommended 10mcg. In January 2020, I was an health conscious 49 year old, combing the Internet for reliable and trustworthy information about what to eat to stay healthy and live-longer. My mother and her mother died at my current age of 50.

Grandparents provide children up to the age of 8 with more confidence and security through acceptance – Image by Aline Dassel from Pixabay Eresmama website – a website, which provides emotional education in Spain. Los niños que crecen con los abuelos son más seguros y felices

Luckily, recognising the NHS rhetoric’s congitive-dissonance (when conclusions presented completely contradict the facts they are claimed to be drawn from) bore me out and I took 25mcg of D3 in February 2020. The difference was immediate, which suggested that I was deficient in Vitamin D. I had felt tired after recovering from a bad cold and wondered if my dose of levothyroxine was too low. I’d searched food intolerances, read everything I could and thought about sunny holidays in Menorca, where I would bounce out of bed and be full of energy. The D3 supplement lifted my mood and energy levels.

In Menorca, the warm sea, sun, outdoors and locally grown, nutritious seafood, salads and other meals provide natural health

This is what led me to the idea of Hearth, a means to bring information about the micronutrients we need from food and other sources to your fingertips on your mobile phone. The aim of Hearth is to be a quick and easy information tool, for use by consumers, nutritionists for their clients, employers to keep their workforces health and insurers to gauge their customers’ health.

As a result of 18 months of research, testing, observation and discussion with others about how they respond to various nutrients, when considered in context of their genes, where they live and their lifestyle, our own unique variations in diet seem to come down to:


Our response to macronutrients can depend greatly, according to our genes and food available where we live. Here are macronutrients, fats, protein and carbohydrates, broken down into subsections, complete or part proteins, types of Omega fatty acids and saccharides, which are ways to identify types of sugar in carbohydrates.

From Hearth app data on Google Sheets here

Firstly, if we consider our genes and skin colour, we can determine how much vitamin D we absorb from sunlight, which can also tell us how much we store. People who are allergic to foods, such as nuts and fish are those whose genes do not want them to store fat soluble vitamins at all. These people have evolved to get what they need from their environment.

Then we might consider how much sunlight we get where we live. Even the earliest Stone Age inhabitants of the United Kingdom would not get everything they need from their diet alone. Hence some of the dishes associated with England, such as fish and chips and a full English breakfast: they include variety, protein, fat, carbohydrates and fibre. Although potatos only reached our shores with Sir Walter Raleigh in Tudor Times, we would have gotten nutrition from roots and tubers.

Time spent in the forest nurtures our health and immunity – Image by SplitShire from Pixabay

According to a variety of reports on nature and preventative medicine, forest bathing – spending time in the forest, which is “Shinrinyoku” in Japanese – boost our immune function. With more claims on food packaging labels to sell us products, instead of educating us about how to stay fit and healthy and prevent disease, we are moving ever further away from nature and all its bounty. This Irish TImes article on complementary medicine from 1999 shows how far backwards we have come this millenium.

Complementary medicines, such as herbal, homeopathy or Chinese, work more like vaccines than conventional medicines, to prime the immune system to fight the infection, which means the dose reduces as natural defences takeover during recovery. They cannot be equated with pharmaceutical medicine, which can attack the symptoms, making people more addicted to pain relief – Image by Pexels from Pixabay

If we live in the UK and do not get enough sunlight, we then need consider how to get enough to be healthy. However, those with darker skins might not store fat soluble vitamins in the same way as those with pale skin with origins from northern Europe. In fact, those that cannot store vitamin D or certain fats might be allergic to polyunsaturated fats, which includes fish, nuts, beans and legumes. Meanwhile, someone from a Mediterranean gene pool may react to high glucose carbohydrates such as dissacharides include milk, table sugar and starch.

An easier way to work out which foods will provide you with your essential daily nutrition.

Firstly, there are the micronutrients we all need from food. These are water soluble and fat soluble vitamins, macrominerals and trace elements. Foods that deliver also fall into one or another of the macronutrient categories, which means you would be getting amino acids, fatty acids and carbohydrates.

From my app pilot data found here.
From Hearth pilot App Data found here

By choosing foods you enjoy, which you already know you are neither allergic, sensitive or intolerant to is a very good start to a healthy diet, which is good for your mental, emotional and physical health, prevention against disease, immunity and micronutrients aid recovery too.

We have learned to fish and gather seafood such as limpets, crabs and shrimps from a young age, which may be a genetic instinct, even before we require the nutrition. Disliking fish from a toxic response as a child can stay with us into adulthood – Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

Let’s say you are allergic to fish and nuts and take supplements to ensure you get enough vitamin D3 during the winter. If you are a vegetarian, you would avoid saturated fats, as that group contains dairy, fish, eggs and meat. Through conversation with people living in the UK with nut and fish allergies, I have found that they are not allergic to avocado or olives, which means that monounsaturated fats would provide them with the means to absorb vitamin D from a supplement or diet.

Fat Soluble Vitamin D – best absorbed from sunlight

Of course, if you live in a hot, sunny country, you are unlikely to need a D3 or D2 supplement or to absorb vitamin D through food, as your requirement would be absorbed very quickly from the sun. Perhaps this why people who live in norther, cold countries, which get less sun often eat more meat, fish, dairy and animal fats, while those in hotter countries get carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats from tropical fruit, which includes avocados. Sadly, those in countries where avocados grow are forced to sell them to westerners who have been sold the ‘superfood’ hoax by the corporate food chain.

Dietary Fats, Omega Fatty Acids, EPA, DHA, ALA and LA – how these work

A website called Bare Biology explains Omega 3 and 6 Fatty acids clearly

From Bare Biology, a website promoting ‘daily flourishment’ from article on vegan Omega 3

For those on a Scandinavian, northern European or Mediterranean diet, fatty and oily fish types, which are ocean caught, fed on plankton not grain-fed on farms, are essential for health and prevent inflammation, which is increasingly prevalent on a modern, processed, western diet and with consumption of alcohol, particularly those containing grains and yeast. These fish can be fought frozen, tinned or fresh, but ocean caught is best, without added salt or other additives or flavouring.

These stple items, all in the Elimination Diet of 42 safe foods, which few people are allergic to, used to reduce the grocery bill by £15 as recently as July 2018. My other blog discusses ways to cut out food intolerances, which cause weight gain, inflammation and bloating.

Today, the food available presents us with various challenges, not least the rising prices we have faced as a result of Brexit. How can a government inflict such pain and restriction on the nation they claim to represent? Here is a guide to the various kinds of macronutrients, which make up the various food groups. You may find you dislike, react to or are allergic to one or more of these. Macronutrients are a goood way to find out where your ideal diet originates from.

A great way to get enough vegetables is to use an allotment, but waiting lists are long – Image by Jana V. M. from Pixabay

Personally, I avoid starch, sugar and milk and aim for above ground vegetables, which do not contain a combination of saccharides. This takes some unravelling, but foods such as leafy green vegetables are carbohydrates but are not referred to as saccharides, a unit of carbohydrate. More recognisable carbohydrates include monosaccharides (honey, fruit, glucose), dissacharides (maltose, lactose, sucrose) or polysaccharides (including cellulose (whole grain and whole meal) and glycogen). People who seem to gain weight easily might find they are retaining water to store glycogen.

Alcohol – What happens

This is down to the fact that alcohol prevents the liver from producing glucose, which will trigger the body to utilise stored glycogen. To compensate through this process, the body will secrete insulin, resulting in low, unhealthy blood sugar levels.

Cassioburycourt – an organisation fighting addiction

The other substance I have felt much better without is caffeine

Caffeine may lower your insulin sensitivity. That means your cells don’t react to the hormone by as much as they once did. They don’t absorb as much sugar from your blood after you eat or drink. This causes your body to make more insulin, so you have higher levels after meals.

Article on Diabetes and caffeine – By Sharon Liao Medically Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on May 14, 2021

Empty Supermarket Shelves are Opportunity for New Improved Food Shopping

If you popped to Tesco for milk in Falmouth during this second week of August 2021, you might find there isn’t any but the Spar shop had gallons of the stuff. It was hard to know what was going on as many shelves and boxes were empty, with a sign blaming a ‘technical difficulty’ and apologising for the ‘inconvenience’.

In 2003 the weather was hot. A local greengrocer in North London where I lived had to install cooling units for the first time. Prior to that, fruit and vegetables were displayed in front of his shop and cost £5 for a full bag. In 2007, the first time I went to Glastonbury Festival, I took a large bag of fruit and vegetables from a shop in Bristol, which was reasonably priced.

The Natural Store in Falmouth – on the site originally used by Burger King, then a British Heart Foundation electrical charity shop, expanded to bigger premises from two separate sites further up the high street. Image by Fal River

Meanwhile, in London, Supermarkets had been lowering their fresh produce prices, while the small independent shops were facing additional costs installing cooler display units to handle the humidity outside. While these small greengrocers were teetering on the edge of survival, supermarkets well selling wide ranges of wares from around the world, available all year round. The independent local shops started closing and it seems as if, not long afterwards, the prices of fruit and vegetables went up to new higher levels.

Greengrocers started to disappear in 2003 and big supermarkets paid fines for price fixing. Image by Christian Aagaard from Pixabay

According to a Guardian article from 2007, Sainsbury’s and other supermarkets paid fines for price fixing. There still seemed to be some consumer protection, which aimed to prevent big retailers from putting profits before the interests of customers. The claim supermarkets made was that they were helping dairy farmers, especially after Mad Cow Disease in 2001.

“An opportunity has been missed to make them stop and think about the way they do business. It proves they do not have their customers’ interests at heart, despite claims to the contrary.” – The Guardian, 2007.

“Supermarkets fined £116m for price fixing” 8 Dec 2007. Rebecca Smithers.

Today in mid-August 2021, we face new challenges, which are leaving supermarket shelves empty. However, this might be the nudge most people need to start buying local food, which could attract more independent retailers and small, quality food producers onto the high street.

By the end of the 1980s, it seemed as if towns and shopping centres across the country were full of branches of mostly the same chain stores. A glance would not have made Taunton distinct from Thame. Then farmers markets started appearing around the turn of the milennium, which reduced the distance from field to fork and put consumers directly in contact with independent food producers.

Perran-ar-worthal Fruit and Veg Stall is on A39 just outside Falmouth heading towards Truro. Their Facebook Page

This meant real life stories from farmers and artisan food producers, such as jams, pickles and bakeries, could trickle into the public domain instead of being canned behind the shop front of large supermarkets. The media started to report on industrialised farming practises and fired up the British animal loving heart with pictures of debeaked chickens and caged cows being milked for humans not their own calves.

We can all jump to conclusions before getting the facts – Image by Walkerssk from Pixabay

Today, there is no appetite for veal, even when dairy farmers created pink veal from calves, which were reared outside and grass fed. The irony is male calves are a bi-product of dairy farming as milk is produced from lactating cows, which means offspring are taken from their milk-producing mothers and only female calves are kept alive. (Blythman, 2006).

In the same way in which we do not get enough sunlight between October to April to make vitamin D, which we need for calcium absorption, the United Kingdom is reliant on imports from other countries for many food items. Riverford Farms blog Wicked Leeks reports that there is the Hungry Gap, which is down to our latitude.

The Hungry Gap is the hardest time of year for UK farmers: a few weeks, usually in April, May and early June, after the winter crops have ended but before the new season’s plantings are ready to harvest.

Wicked Leeks – Riverford Farms.

Luckily, before the lockdown started in March 2020, I had a regular order coming each week from Riverford, which provided staple sustenance, while many other people were panic-buying eggs from the supermarket.

Empty egg shelves found when buying for people shielding during the lockdown

There are still Farmers’ Markets but also new and different types of small independent food shops have appeared. Research I did for my app in early 2020 revealed that organic produce sales had risen for 6 consecutive years up to 2018, when the report was published. A search for this revealed even better news for improving British food provision. An article by Kevin White for The Grocer says that in 2020, organic food sales hit a 15 year high. This was mostly from home delivery, farm shops and market stalls and independent retailers such as natural food shops. In Falmouth, the Natural Store has a wide range of local and fresh produce, which caters for a broad selection of eating preferences.

Helford Creek make cider as well as fresh fruit juices, to be found at markets around Cornwall.

While Totnes became famous for its small, healthy food shops, Falmouth has sprouted a few of its own homegrown outlets too. There is Un_Wrap, which sells mainly dry produce ranging from herbs, nuts, its own freshly sqeezed peanut butter, grains, pulses, lentils, oats and other cereals, alongside dried fruit, oil, other liquids and beans, which includes coffee. Containers can be bought, brought it or reused. A local vegetable producer Paddy’s Patch supplies loose seasonal vegetables and eggs can be bought too.

Good to take your own jars, containers and reusable bags for a host of items on sale here – mostly dry with liquids and peanut butter

Instead of providing supermarkets with a direct response, an effective message to sell more local produce, support farmers in the area, pay reasonable prices for foods and eliminate waste, packaging and food miles from field to plate, we could eat healthily on what is available from farm shops, such as at Trevaskis Farm in Hayle, markets and stalls such as Perran-ar-worthal vegetable stall, just outside Falmouth on the A39 towards Truro.

NUDE Canteen on Killigrew Sreet. Image by FFFoodie on Trip Advisor

There is the new Nude Canteen on Killigrew Street, which delivers and sells their own innovative fusion food as well as fresh produce. There is the butchers and a fishmonger in town, while Seaborne’s Fishmonger is at the bottom of Penryn High Street and recommended for a variety of foods, including fresh crabmeat for home made sandwiches. A firm Falmouth favourite.

A selection of local cheeses, salad leaves, brocoli, spinach, rainbow chard, kale and crabmeat can make a nutritious snack or picnic while a full, tasty, satisfying breakfast can be made with an assortment of ingredients, many of which are grown, packaged or produced locally, including olives.

Therefore, while supermarkets, which undercut farmers, squeeze profits from small producers, waste food, drive produce around the country to package and distribute and clearly do not put customers’ health high on their list, have empty shelves, we can find the following locally:

Fresh herbs
Milk, Cheese, Yogurt, Butter and Cream
Duck, quail and chicken eggs
Loose in season vegetables grown on allotments
Small farmers producing a range of fruit, salad and vegetables
Bakeries, such as Vicky’s Bread
Olives, coffee and tea
Jam, pickles and preserves
A range of locally farmed meats
Line-caught fish, crabs, lobsters, mussels, oysters and other seafood
Leafy greens such as rainbow chard, curly kale, Russian red Kale, spinach, brocoli, mixed salad leaves, Battvia lettuce.
Mushrooms, radishes, cucumbers, courgettes, cabbages, cauliflower, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, pumpkins, samphire
Dried herbs and spices, onions, garlic and shallots

Locally grown green vegeteables

A mixture of salad, fruit, vegetables, meat or fish, egg with an assortment of real foods provides a tasty, satisfying and nutritious meal, which can be shared or kept and eaten cold or recreated. Now is the time to experience foods, which boost our mood, immune system and can provide optimal health. The more we buy locally the more we will find and the cheaper it will get. Also, we’ll be ready for the supermarkets when they start to push back.

I’m off to have a look at Sainsbury’s shelves to see how big a problem supermarkets in Falmouth are having right now. With one main road into Cornwall, the A30, Falmouth is reliant on deliveries coming past extensive road words on the roundabout, which meets the A39 into Truro. This could get interesting for the big retailers and our local farms.

Tasty Satisfying Nutritious Seafood Picnic for Social Evening on the Beach

The best thing about self-catering holidays in the United Kingdom is that you can buy local produce in a range of places, which are fun to discover as you explore. When I first visited Polzeath in Cornwall in 2001, I was delighted that the Spar shops sold locally caught seafood, which I couldn’t find in London.

Researching the various foods, which deliver all the micro and macronutrients we need has led to a tasty, satisfying and nutritious picnic, which is quick and easy to put together using a variety of ingredients. By knowing which foods provide the various macronutrients, which range across all the food groups, a picnic can be tailored to any genetic tolerance or eating preference and cater for a range of different diets.

The idea behind Hearth comes from what we learn from food cultures, which originate from Southern and Northern Europe, India, East Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America. From these different places come recipes and ingredients, which together provide nutritious, satisfying and tasty meals making use of locally grown produce, to suit the local population.

On a simple level, a person with origins from a hot, sunny country will get enough vitamin D each day from the sun, perhaps other minerals from contact from natural water, whether that is from lakes, rivers, streams, oceans or from plants irrigated by the rain may get much of their daily nutrients from tropical fruits. Papayas, mangos, avocados, coconuts and other tropical fruits and vegetables contain carbohydrates, fats and protein.

Meanwhile, in Northern Europe we relied more on storing fat soluble vitamins, especially vitamin D, which the sunlight is too weak to provide for the winter half of the year.

While the western diet is based on large quantities of one thing, many other food cultures have a dish, which means a variety of local foods; meze, tapas, thali and delicatessen. The idea of an assortment of small portions of various carbohydrate, fat and protein foods provides us with choice, to eat foods we like and leave the others.

Goat’s cheese and pear, ingredients for the salad.

A quick look at a Sunday roast, full English Breakfast or Christmas dinner shows us that variety is part of traditional English cookery as well. While royals and the gentry were feasting on game, the rest of the English nation has made the best of what they can grow, produce or conjure up from whatever is available through the seasons. The Harvest Festival was a key part of the English calendar, when people could compete to show off the biggest pumpkin, which itself produces ingredients for stews, soups, seeds and vegetable.

In the summer, a picnic is an easy way to bring together a variety of foods to share. It is amazing how much less food fills up more people if you share a wide variety of different ingredients. This makes a picnic a quick and easy meal to create and carry with you to a chosen spot to enjoy outside with other people.

Hearth Seafood Picnic

Starting with the salad, the idea tends towards alkaline raw vegetables. For extra taste and sustenance, the salad can be dressed with avocado or olive oil (monounsaturated fats) and lemon or lime juice and sprinkled with pumpkin and sunflower seeds. This keeps the salad open to all eating preferences, with items including egg, meat or seafood or cheese, which can be added from separate containers.

This is fast food in the sense, that it is quick to prepare. It is not junk food, as each ingredient is natural.

The salad base includes all eating preferences, using those on the ‘safe foods list’ to identify food intolerances: Lettuce, spinach, basil, avocado, brocoli, onion, pumpkin and sunflower seeds with olive and avocado oil and lemon and lime juice dressing.

Items, quick to retrieve from the fridge, are: hummus, crab meat, goat’s cheese, artichoke hearts, olives, vine leaves, alongside tuna from the cupboard. The salad is the main ingredient for the picnic, which requires preparation, alongside boiling and slicing up egg and making the salad dressing.

A picnic set provides space to carry the various containers of food. Spending an evening on a beach with bench tables, means the food can be shared and provides sustenance at a low cost and with little, but fun preparation for anyone who loves preparing and sharing food with friends.

Of course other people can easily add their own ingredients, such as home cooked bread and cake. Empty containers can be reused for future picnics as they can be easier to fit into the picnic and leftovers can be included as well.

Chicken and Rice – brown rice soaked for 8 hours, chicken cooked with herbs and spices, water and rice added and cooked until rice is soft and integrated into chicken and its sauce.

Macronutrients, Genes and Regaining Control of Our Own Bodies

There is a lot we can tell about the foods, which nourish us by combining knowledge about macronutrients with your own life experiences with food.

When it comes to our own health, fitness and body shape, nothing beats objective research to find answers. Sadly, we all have a jungle of misinformation, conflicts of interests and hidden biases to wade through. Following that, there are official guidance, social stimuli and endless snippets of advice, which originate from a narrow perspective.

With more facts and data, we can find our own answers and make informed choices about food, health and fitness, which can give us confidence to stay ontrack and filter out unhelpful societal, media, government or peer narratives or directives.


Articles are beginning to emerge about using our genes to determine which types of dietary fat, protein and carbohydrates work best for us. However, many of these guides are simplistic, superficial and require spinning many different plates at once to mine for any answers.

To increase the value of genetic tests and the results they may provide – or for more context – here is information about macronutrients, including detail I have gathered from various sources but not found in one place to provide a fuller picture. This is information, not advice, along with views I have formed from my own analyses, observation, searching and experiences.

Dietary Fats

Mono-unsaturated Fats – Olives, Avocados, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds.
Poly-unsaturated Fats – Fish, Shellfish, Coconut, Nuts, Beans, Pulses, Legumes, Grains
Saturated Fats – Meat, Eggs, Dairy
Trans Fats – Grass fed lamb, cow, goat or other ruminants contain a small percentage.

As you can see, there is some kind of dietary fat in many healthy foods, which also contain protein and some carbohydrate. Processed foods containing both fat (vegetable oil, spreads, dairy, nuts, seeds etc) and carbohydrate (sugar or starch) are ones to avoid as the combination of fat and sugar is highly addictive and causes many metabolic conditions such as insulin resistance and other food sensitivies and intolerances.

For those of us living in colder, less sunny countries, in order to absorb fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K – particularly between October and April, we need to have some fat with each meal, but there are many choices how to do this for your genetic type. For example, those with Northern Europe ancestry need to store vitamin D as we do not get enough sunlight everyday all year round to make it. That means those with genes created in hot, sunny countries may not need to store vitamin D and could be intolerant, sensitive or even allergic to one or more dietary fats. Allergies and other responses to foods can lead us to answers if we have the fact laid out in front of us. Nut and fish allergy? Poly-unsaturated fats may be the macro to filter out. This information may explain why the Full English breakfast and fish and chips are popular in the UK.

The amount of misinformation out there is staggering. Mainly, it is the lack of detail, which makes for confusing reading, with mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated muddled in together, which isn’t much help.


We have complete protein and part protein. Not every complete protein comes from animals though. In 2008, I had a vegan flatmate, who ate a healthy diet involving quinoa and buckwheat, which he said were protein. What I didn’t know was that quinoa and buckwheat are complete proteins as they contain all 9 amino acids as do soy products (Tofu, Tempeh, Edemame, Natto, Miso, Soy Beans).

Like various foods, I’m discovering, soy is an anti-nutrient (a plant’s way of defending itself from being eaten by insects) and needs the right preparation to stop it absorbing nutrients from our bodies. Soy has found its way into bread, chocolate and other foods where it is not needed or expected and is one of the 4 drivers of deforestation, whereas 60 years ago it was used for wallpaper paste. Personally, I avoid soy.

Therefore, complete proteins include:
Meat, game, poultry, milk, butter, cream, yogurt, kefir, quinoa, buckwheat, soy, eggs, amaranth, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds.

It is no surprise, then, that various traditional dishes are combinations of partial protein to provide 9 amino acids. These include hummus and pitta, kidney beans and rice or baked beans and potato. In other words, combinations of part-proteins can provide all 9 amino acids, for example, assortments of:
*Potato *Wholewheat Bread *Hummus *Rice *Kidney Beans *Nuts *Seeds *Legumes *Whole grains, *Coucous, *Lentils, *Pulses, *Beanshoots, *Kale, *Chard, *Brocoli, *Spinach, *Asparagus, *Artichokes, *Olives, *Avocados *Blackberries *Oranges *Guava *Avocado *Banana *Coconut *Watercress *Bok Choy *Cauliflower *Spring or Summer Greens *Cabbage *Brussel Sprouts

Some of these are anti-nutrients, which means it is a goood idea to find out how to prepare them so they don’t absorb all the nutrients from your system, such as brussel sprouts, cabbage, spinach and brocoli. This was new to me, as I only discovered last year that hypothyroidism and hearing loss came from an iodine deficiency in the womb and that these vegetables could block iodine.

Glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage)—can prevent the absorption of iodine, which may then interfere with thyroid function and cause goiter. Those already with an iodine deficiency or a condition called hypothyroidism are most susceptible.

“Are Anti-nutrients Harmful” Harvard Education

Here are the 9 esssential amino acids we need from our nutrition and what roles they play.

Bananas would provide carbohydrates, fats and protein for people living in hot countries, where their needs to eat dietary fats to absorb vitamins for food would be less and opportunity to burn sugar would be more from warm sunny weather
This would be nutritious and healthy for you if it grew naturally in your backyard

For those recovering from viruses, injuries, operations, medication or illnesses, our bodies use protein for repair and maintenance, which means that eating foods containing protein can help the healing process and the immune system. To fight off infection, the blood will move protein round the body to rebuild damage, which means that protein taken from muscles will cause fatigue.

Resting when recuperating helps too. Getting all the fat soluble and water soluble vitamins, macrominerals and trace elements, taking from all 3 macronutrients would provide your system with maximum equipment to restore your health.

Let’s have a quick look at symptoms, as they deliver both good and bad news. In my view, there are recovery symptoms, which indicate an immune system at work, and disease symptoms, which are caused by the infection. Unfortunately, some lethal non-communicable diseases onset without symptoms and therefore give us no warning. This is another reason to aim for optimal health from activity, conversation, rest, honest self-awareness, creativity and good nutrition.


Again, there is a sea of value, glossed-over or inaccurate information about the 3rd and last macronutrient. Subsequently, I’ve only just found out the details. We may know them in a the more familiar form of: Starch, Sugar and Fibre but carbohydrates are essentially, simple, combined or complex. The more saccharides in a carbohydrate, the more instant energy it provides. If too much energy, or glucose, is consumed, the remainder is stored as fat. This provides more depth to various vague and lazy pieces of advice bandied around. These are interpreted in an earlier blog.
Monosaccharides – Fructose (fruit or honey) – simple sugars from natural foods
Dissaccharides – Maltose (foods with yeast, starch and gluten), Lactose (milk) and Sucrose (sugar).
Polysaccharides – Most essential are Glycogen (saccharine) and Cellulose (starch) stored in the muscle of the liver.

Carb Breakdown

The way I understand carbohydrates is: Sugar, Starch or Fibre. However, the three types shown above provide more information about the type of sugar found in real fruit (not juices or syrups) and why it provides instant energy. Various writers including Allen Carr and Harvey and Marilyn Diamond recommended fruit in the morning to start the day, to replicate the indigenous human lifestyle. In order to live in different parts of the world, people adapted to the food available and subsequently, here are the fruits, which also contain proteins.

These tropical fruits would evidently be nutritious to people with genes evolved to get enough sunlight all year round to make vitamin D, while getting fats and proteins from tropical fruits as well as energy from the carbohydrates. Many of these fruits provide complete protein, such as avocados, which are also mono-unsaturated fats and carbohydrate. That doesn’t mean everyone benefits in the same way from eating these tropical fruits as we cannot and do not all use the amount of sugar they provide.

Personally, I seem to absorb sugar from many foods and feel an overload of energy if I have too many carbohydrate in my diet. Subsequently, genetic testing has recommended that I have only 8% of carbohydrate. I do this by sticking to green, above ground and leafy carbohydrates, which also provide fibre. However, brown rice is highly nutritious and I have only just discovered that soaking it for 8 hours stops it soaking up all the nutrients in my system. To minimise the glucose in my blood stream, I prefer low GI carbs, which take longer to digest and don’t cause insulin spikes. In fact, too much sugar is the only thing that will give me a headache. Therefore:

Sugar – fruit, milk, sugar, honey, beans, peas, oats, quinoa, buckwheat, tomato, peppers, dried fruit, syrup, squashes
Starch – wheat, root vegetables, potatoes, rice, pasta, malt, barley, rye, grains, cereal
Fibre – the above plus green vegetables.

As a general rule, cultivated crops, which we have had to cook to be able to digest such as wheat, potato and rice, rather than those we have found by foraging including fruit, garlic, onions, vegetables and berries, which can be eaten raw or cooked would suit those with genes, which evolved in warmer central parts of Europe and the Mediterranean.

Hopefully, this has provided an insight into why certain macronutrients suit some people better than others. This can accompany us on our own food journeys so we can take back control of our health, bodies, nutrition, minds and fitness. It can also prompt ways to recognise messages from our bodies and minds in terms of feelings or sensations, which may include symptoms as we fight an infection or a warning to avoid a certain food or drink.

Optimised Nutrition as Pandemic Protection

In February 2020, I was feeling a little drowsy. As a person who takes an extremely keen interest in keeping healthy – I’ll illustrate why in a bit – I could not believe that the message that we do not get enough sunlight to make vitamin D, which we need to make calcium, over the winter half of the year in the UK had not reached me.

If the fact we are vitamin D deficient in the UK every winter has not reached a 49 year old with a computer and smart phone, who is health conscious and constantly researches about natural health, who does it reach? You? Did you know the UK was deficient in vitamin D every year?

Profit Before Public Health

Pharmaceutical companies fund health research. They use selective trials to prove whatever they want to say. After 2005, the science press have shown, it became increasingly difficult to get funding to research new coronaviruses emerging from demand for wild game from wet markets in China, which had insufficient biosecurity.

Research on micronutrients has been skewed by pharmaceutical industry research and the results have ended up being unwittingly quoted and repeated by scientists who seem to have integrity. The question about whether a vitamin D3 supplement, taken with appropriate fatty acids for absorption, as part of a nutritious diet would protect someone against severe disease, hospitalisation and death from COVID-19 gets a spun response:

“In terms of Vitamin D there is no actual evidence to suggest that this helps prevent or cure Covid.” – Cherilyn Mackory MP for Falmouth and Truro. However, this has become the standard response to any questions about whether the UK had the most deaths from COVID-19: because we were deficient in Vitamin D. To me, this is lazy, biased towards industry interest and a result of pharmaceutical investment in research to protect their interests.

Spot the agenda

Micronutrients have been incorrectly tested in isolation, instead of together with other vitamins and minerals with the water and fat they need to be absorbed. Earlier in 2020, trials were set up to test vitamin D to protect people against COVID-19, but if these were funded by pharmaceuticals, they could have resulted in the uninformed, misunderstandings conveyed by my local MP. Vitamin D is not and has never been a treatment or cure. This article shows how pharmaceuticals used testing vitamins as cures to discredit them and smear them as “expensive piss”. Spot the hidden agenda:

This July the UK press, the BBC and CNN were full of the results of a new study conducted by Oxford University’s Clinical Trial Services Unit, led by Dr. Rory Collins, who conducted a five-year US$32 million survey known as the Heart Protection Study. The study was paid paid for by the pharmaceutical companies Merck and Roche, makers of two of the best selling cholesterol-lowering statin drugs on the market, Mevacor and Zocor.

Big Pharma Says “Vitamins a Waste of Money” But the World doesn’t buy it……..Bali Advertiser.

Diet and nutrition are essential for healthy immunity. However, a group of micronutrients plays a dominant role in immunomodulation. The deficiency of most nutrients increases the individual susceptibility to virus infection with a tendency for severe clinical presentation. Despite a shred of evidence, the supplementation of a single nutrient is not promising in the general population. Individuals at high-risk for specific nutrient deficiencies likely benefit from supplementation. The individual dietary and nutritional status assessments are critical for determining the comprehensive actions in COVID-19.

Micronutrients as Immunomodulatory Tools for COVID-19 Management.

What is the correct angle on this?

If we do not get enough sunlight to make vitamin D in the UK between October and March each year and are recommended to take a 10mcg (400 iu) D3 or D2 dietary supplement, that means, simply we are vitamin D deficient during the winter. Surely below optimal health makes us more vulnerable to disease? A supplement on its own doesn’t help everyone.

There are factors to this we must regard. In the UK, where the sunlight is too weak for us to make vitamin D in the winter or all year long for darker skin tones and those who do not go outside, taking a supplement for a fat soluble vitamin requires the supplement being absorbed with fat in the diet. That means omega 3, omega 6, DHA, EHA etc. In food terms that is: olives, avocado, nuts, seeds, fish, dairy and meat. Fat soluble vitamins A, E, D and K all require dietary fats for absorption.

There are two opposite angles on micronutrients. The correct one is prevention: Having a nutriitous diet, eating the nutrients you genetic type prefers from 4 types of fat, protein from 9 amino acids and 3 types of carbohydrate. We all need to know which are for us. A person with roots from near the equator living an outdoor life will metabolise sugar from fruit and dietary fat in a completely different way from people living in Scandinavia or the United Kingdom. However, the person with African ancestry living in London will need to find a way to supplement vitamin D for someone with a nut and fish allergy would be to take it with omega 3 or cod liver oil tablets to absorb the fat soluble vitamin.

We need more micronutrients as we get older

As children, we can absorb plenty of nutrition from most foods, but of course children would be healthier on real rather than “entertainment” foods. However, as we get older and women go through their menopause or losing blood each month, we need a nutrient rich diet. Ideally, for optimal health, it is best to aim to get all the essential vitamins from food and can add variety to the plate by ensuring we are getting essential minerals too.

Food cultures from around the world hint at assortment and variety as a great way to eat for optimal health. Think of meze, thali and tapas. Foods such as cucumber, courgette, olives, avocados, chickpeas, asparagus, artichoke and steamed greens provide vitamins and minerals and make a plate of food satisfying and tasty along with some fish, eggs, meat and cheese.

Therefore, in conclusion, a good nutritious diet would benefit us if we caught covid-19 as we would equip our immune systems with all the tools to fight the virus. Symptoms are our defences in action. We get symptoms when we eat food our bodies do not like. Pregnant women are the group most likely to listen to their bodies’ messages when it comes to what they consume. Think of cravings and nausea during pregnancy. Understanding pains, symptoms and cravings can benefit a pregnancy, as could a diet of optimised nutrition.

Secret to Balancing Calories, Activity and Nutrition for Health

While we face the amplifying affects of COVID-19 on our innate health, with a greatly strained NHS, official health bodies do anything but provide the information we need for optimal health. However, independent organisation Public Health Collaboration have published a guide to healthy eating, which addresses the incorrect advice given by Public Health England.

Before the pandemic, The NHS vitamins and minerals pages clearly stated that we do not get enough sunlight in the UK between October and March to make vitamin D. However, it did not mention the relationship between diet and absorbing fat soluble vitamins.

Public Health Collaboration have released a counter-argument to official diet advice distributed by the NHS, The Eatwell Guide. Americans have a similar travesty of truth called MyPlate. It is industry funded and therefore biased towards consumerism and away from natural health.

Nutrition plays a very important part in our innate health as does physical activity.

For decades, weight loss information has misled people about what it means to be fit and healthy, by providing incorrect information about how our bodies respond to food.

We might respond in our own unique way but we are also the same species. What is missing in the information we are provided is context. I will provide what I have discovered:

Calories: As Gary Taubes illustrated in Good Calories, Bad Calories, not all calories are made equal. For example, you could eat a nutrient rich food with few calories but alternatively, some foods contain many calories but few vitamins or minerals. We need enough and not too many calories each day to maintain our weight. However, reducing calories to lose weight slows the metabolism down, which leads to regaining the weight when the restricted diet ends.

Meals versus snacks: Perhaps eating a small quantity to top up energy if it flags ought to be called topups instead of snacks. Snacks suggest grazing, which anyone might start doing if they find themselves working from home and able to raid the fridge whenever they want. It is also easy to start punctuating the day with snacks when you first stop smoking, as that sporadic pause yearns to be filled by a short activity requiring no concentration, to allow the brain to process. A sudden change in the daily routine to a 3 set tennis match or 5 mile run would likely to require an energy top up to supplement your regular meals. Grazing in front of the TV would provide an unused energy surplus, which would pile on the pounds.

Balanced and varied: Of course this is never defined. In fact it is contradicted. The Eatwell Guide suggests basing every meal on a starchy carbohydrate. A balanced meal would contain a good ratio of health fats, protein and fibre carbohydrates. That provides every nutrient, macro and micro. Hearth Nutrition suggests creating meals by checking off all micronutrients we need each day, which in itself would result in a balanced and varied meal. Think of food cultures from around the world: French cuisine involves many small courses. Meze, Thali and Tapas involve small plates including peas, beans, lentils, rice, meat, fish and vegetables. Countries, which traditionally have not had access to the food available today all year round would have pioneered dishes, which provided nutrition, such as coleslaw or sauerkraut.

Genetic Variation: In northern European countries, we would need more fat to absorb fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin D, which we only get enough sunlight to make in the summer months in the UK. Therefore, we would require more fat in our diet to absorb vitamins A, D, E and K from our food. Meanwhile, people from sunny countries, where exotic fruits grow in abundance, would have naturally been outside in the sunshine much more than those in colder, northern climes, and would use the fast-release energy from fruit much more quickly going about their day. None the less, active people still need protein to maintain their physical and mental health, so living on exotic fruits is probably not sensible for any humans.

Eating Disorders: It has been known for a while that disrupted eating can lead to vitamin deficiencies. This might mean that supplements are required to get your daily nutrition, but a nutritious diet, which provides all the essential micronutrients to provide optimal mental and physical health is a good way to start. Then DNA wellbeing tests, hair samples and using nutriition facts and an elimination process to get the nutrition you can, through food first and supplement to fill any gaps would provide you with a strong foundation for health.

My question on Independent SAGE is the last one here, on vitamin D deficiency in UK.

Up to the start of covid-19 spreading around the UK, the NHS website provided information about vitamins and minerals, including how human bodies used each micronutrient, the amount required, whether we stored it or not, natural sources – either diet or sunlight for vitamin D – and recommended daily amount (RDA) for dietary supplements.

I spent a weekend copying this information into a spreadsheet with each micronutrient on a row with food and other sources as well as the RDA for a supplement. At the bottom I could make a shopping list to get maximum nutrition from food. I then worked out gaps in my diet and bought the supplements I required.

Although vitamins and some nutritients are more important, seeing the foods they come from and RDAs for supplements to get those missing in our chosen diet can help plan a nutritious diet

A deep dive into nutrition would reveal more information, such as the relationship between fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and fatty acids, amino acids and minerals they contain. To get a nutritious diet this information would be helpful but is difficult to cross reference, when official diet advice is subjective and lacks context.

There are also dynamics to consider, which are the result of lifestyle on health, recovery and protection against hospitalisation or death from a virus. Smoking can reduce vitamin D in the system. Alcohol reduces B12 and drinking too much can lead to a B12 deficiency. Carbohydrate density can lead to bloating, inflammation, high blood sugar, water retention and be an anti-nutrient and block absorption of essential micronutrients. Food intolerance also creates responses, depending on how much the body does not want a certain food, for example tomatos, potatos, peppers and tobacco are all from the nightshade family and soy can be an anti-nutrient if not prepared properly.

There could be a variety of causes of current ailments, particularly long COVID and ongoing conditions such as Fibro Myalgia, Endometriosis, Cystic Fibrosis, ME, Type 2 Diabetes, Obesity, Rheumatoid Arthritus, Arthritis, Dementia, Alzeimers and also the depreciated health aspects experienced by people with autism and a wealth of other common non-communicable diseases. Nutrition is no cure and research is biased in favour of medicine that seeks to test nutrition as a treatment to discredit it. What nutrition does do, however, is give our bodies and minds the best chance at fighting whatever affliction we develop.

Healthcare today seems more like sickcare and focuses on cure rather than prevention. The Independent SAGE meeting on 6th March mentioned that the government have spent 96% of funding on pharmaceuticals and every other aspect, including prevention accounts for 4% of the government’s budget. See this information on Medical News Today about vitamin E deficiency and diseases, which shows how: “Vitamin E deficiency can also result from diseases that severely reduce the absorption of fat”.

There is a lack of finance invested into researching how nutrition and tackling malnutrition with a healthy diet keeps us healthy and reduces non-communicable diseases as well hospitalisation and death from viruses. However, Hearth is based on the information provided on the NHS website on vitamins and minerals, cross referenced with Public Health Collaboration, John Yudkin, Gary Taubes, Dr Zoe Harcombe, Dr Andrew Jenkinson, Tim Spector, Harvard Health and Medical News Today.

Please see my nutrition and food spreadsheet here (Google Sheets).

Why Eating For Nutrition Gets More Important As We Age

Do you remember feeling sick on family holiday holidays as a child? Were you cautious about the milk in France or Spain? Did it taste funny? Did you have a constantly runny nose throughout your school days?

Children absorb micronutrients easily, so richer food made us sick, we constantly have symptoms from intolerances and we grow to like foods with an ‘acquired taste’ – Image by Daniela Dimitrova from Pixabay

Today, one-size-fits-all diet advice is causing a huge amount of chaos. People of all different sizes, ages, women or men, from childhood to old age, different genetic origins, frame sizes and activity levels.l

During 2020, many people who went out to work each day experienced a sudden change to their daily routine: staying at home. Many people put on weight. In John Yudkin’s book This Slimming Business, he shows how studies of people who took little, some or much exercize varied in appetite. Both low and medium levels of activity ate less than those who were highly active.

Public health advice to base every meal on starchy carbohydrates is only correct for those who are going to use that fast-releasing energy soon after eating. If the energy circulating in our blood as glucose or blood sugar is not used, it will be stored for another period of regular activity.

This means that during lockdowns, our bodies change to adapt to our new sedentary lifestyles.

Public health seems to have become all about pharmacy and cures. Our professional bodies don’t seem to think about healthy lifestyles – Image by Welcome to all and thank you for your visit ! ツ from Pixabay

We also lack enough sunlight to make vitamin D in the United Kingdom over the winter half of the year and anytime where we don’t go outside for at least 10-25 minutes, according to our shade of skin.

It seems as if our public health officers know very little about healthy lifestyles. They prescribe drugs or vaping to stop smoking. The tell people to base every meal on starchy carbohydrates as if we were medieval peasants. They recommend 5 pieces of fruit or vegetables everyday, giving us far too much sugar. They include enriched and fortified foods in their lists, which are stripped of natural nutrients and supplemented artificially.

It has been widely reported that we need more micronutrients as we get older. This session on Nutrition Concerns for Ageing Populations, taking place at Tufts University in Boston USA says:

People become less active, their metabolism slows, their energy requirement decreases, all of which mean that they need to eat less.

Recent research demonstrates that because older adults’ abilities to absorb and utilize many nutrients become less efficient, their nutrient requirements (particularly as a function of body mass) actually increase.

Maintaining a nutrient-dense diet is critically important for older adults because of the impact of food intake on health.

As Pelchat discussed, aging is often accompanied by a loss of appetite and changes in taste and smell, all of which can lead to more limited food choices and lower intake of healthful foods.

This means that Hearth Nutrition is primarily for people aged 40 plus, particularly women, who may have stopped going out to work each day, which means their lifestyle and dietary requirements have changed too. We need to increase our nutritional intake as we get older.

We move around less in older age, our metabolism slows, we need more nutrients – Image by coombesy from Pixabay

Here is a link to a study called Immune Function and Micronutrients Requirements Change Over the Life Course.

As well as needing vitamin D3 or D2 dietary supplements during the winter in the UK, micronutrients are important to protect us against viruses. This BMJ piece shows the role micronutrients play in the wake of COVID-19

We also become intolerant to foods that don’t agree with us as we get older. Not to forget allergies, of course, which are over-reactions by the immune system to nutrients the body doesn’t need.

We can work out a certain amount of our own ideal diet by considering:

Our genetic origins: if we have fair skin and originate from colder climates, we need more fat in our diet to make vitamins we don’t get from sunlight, such as vitamin D. If we come from somewhere with tropical fruit, we can process vitamins while simultaneously using the fast releasing energy.

This would be nutritious and healthy for you if it grew naturally in your backyard

Our location: those living in inner cities will need more nutrition to deal with increased levels of pollution, which means it is healthy to have more colds if the air quality is less good. Those living by the sea benefit from sea swimming and fresh seafood, particularly line-caught instead of farmed fish fed on grains.

Our age: as we get older: we need more nutrient rich foods to get the amount of vitamins we need.

Our activity level: if we eat starchy carbohydrates, but do not use the sugar in our blood, it will be stored away for future use, as these foods contain few nutrients, amino acids or omega 3 fatty acids. In fact, too much grain in the diet unbalances the Omega 6: Omega 3 ratio we need to be healthy.

Our size: if we are big framed (measured by head, hands and feet) we need more calories than if we are petite.

This all means that our tastes, preferences, intolerances, ethics, diets and lifestyles are up to us. We need the information to be able to make informed choices for ourselves.

Below are lists of the micronutrients we need each day, foods they come from and dietary supplement recommended daily amounts (RDAs) for nutrients missing in the diet.




How to Maintain our Weight and Health During Lockdowns

This story is an attempt at pulling many different threads together to create a whole picture of how human nutrition governs our mental and physical health and our body shape. I can’t ask if you’d prefer the good or bad news first, so will just go for it.

The most important way to maintain our figure is to keep up daily activity over the long term – Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

Rather than peppering the flow with citations, I will show the books and sources of this information at the bottom. As a journalist, I aim to follow the facts to reveal the hidden story about weight, nutrition, exercise and health. This means I’m building a complete picture, which relates to adults in the United Kingdom under Lockdown and similar sudden changes in circumstances.

The bad news

Diets are not just for after Christmas, they are for life. We see the same high percentage of Brits on diets ‘most of the time’ today, that existed in the 1960s. Weight gain affects those who work from home more than those who do at least part of their commute every day on foot. People who stop going out to work regularly – as many have during the lockdown – results in weight gain. It is preventable but not by following any diet, calorie counter, short term restriction of starchy foods or exercise boot camp.

The good news

Our bodies are designed to absorb occasional feasts and celebrations – Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

Neither a blow out at a wedding buffet nor an indulgent, well deserved holiday are going to set your waistline on an undesirable trajectory outwards. When we over eat on occasion, our bodies respond by increasing our metabolism to burn off the excess energy. Therefore, just as the weight creeps on when we stay at home every day, keeping up a routine of taking exercise or a walk three times a day could replicate some of the previous activity when going out to work.

To set new goals for staying at home, imagine your day when you went to the office and plan a daily routine so your daily activity level does not drop off. For those who cycled long distances to work, perhaps find an activity converter to translate your weekly game of squash or cycle commute into steps.

Vitamin D for indoors

It’s good to keep up time spent moving around when sudden life changes occur – Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

During the winter in the UK, we do not make enough sunlight to make vitamin D between October and April. If we are inside a lot, it is good to take a supplement each day when we do not see spring or summer sun for at least 10 minutes a day, with longer for darker shades of skin. Vitamin D3 (animal protein) or D2 (plant) 10mcg (1000 International Units) or 25mcg (4000 IU) each day will suffice.

This is prevention rather than cure and is not a remedy or inoculation against infection, nor is it anti-bacterial. It is good to take a supplement each day, which supplements vitamin D in a nutritious diet and it is fat soluble so easier to absorb if eaten with food containing healthy fats (fish, meat, eggs, dairy, olives, avocado, coconut, nuts, seeds, oils from any of these).

How to Stay Healthy During Lockdown

Motivation comes in many forms but doing regularly is vital for health – Image by Firmbee from Pixabay

There are a lucky few people who will not naturally face worsening health during Lockdown. These people have not had a greatly disrupted daily routine. However, those people might still struggle to find the motivation to jog on spot, do sits ups, use the staircase for steps or follow a yoga or dancersize instructor on YouTube.

In order to maintain your weight and health during lockdown, it is very important you keep up some activity twice of three times a day. Otherwise after 3 months your weight and metabolism with have adapted to your new routine. This is to prevent you from bouncing off the walls or experiencing the huge surpluses of adrenalin that give you that buzz after exercize.

Why do you think so many people are on permanent diets?

We can’t rely on gyms or classes – Image by Татьяна Краснова from Pixabay

Nutritionists and doctors now know that short term, restrictive, high activity diets do not work long term. Our bodies are designed for 12 weeks of famine and intense exercise and adapt accordingly, to help us survive and keep us alive. That is the very reason short term diets do not work. When we reduce our calorie intake to less than what we need, our metabolism slows down to conserve energy so we have enough to get through ‘hard times’.

Too much information is taken out of context. Yes, people who had been in prison camps for a period of time became skeletal. Do you wonder how they survived? When they were released, special products had to be made to bring them back to normal eating again. They could not just tuck into a roast dinner on leaving their prison. Their bodies had adapted to keep them alive through extreme hardship, inadequate food and excessive activity.

How do we deal with our sedentary lives today?

Different nutrients and richness of food on holiday affects us quickly – Image by Pexels from Pixabay

The bad news: you cannot sustain an unrealistic, fashionable, sinewy teenage boy figure all your life, even if you are a sinewy, teenage boy. If you become an athlete,  perhaps you will maintain your size and shape, depending on the consistency of physical activity and, as you get older, the increasingly nutritious diet that you eat.

Think about ‘acquired taste’ and, perhaps, memories of being sick on the first few days of family holidays abroad.  These are natural phenonema.

Below are the books I read to gather information from this story, starting with the direct, succinct, to the point and light-hearted This Slimming business by John Yudkin.

Funny, clear, direct and to the point , John Yudkin clarifies the advice we still use today

Firstly, our young bodies are able to process just about any foods, which means we do not need rich, nutrient dense foods, such as anchovies, avocados, olives or too many eggs until we become adults, in order to get micronutrients we can access from chicken, potatos, cabbage, rice and peas.

The age of thirty is most associated with change to our bodies, lifestyles, routines and responses to food. Thirty may also be the age when we start our own voyages of discovery about food, health and quality of life.

The next blog will look at how to maintain our health and quality of life through food and activity.

Here are the other books. They all focus mainly on nutrition and none of them provide the complete picture and truth behind the statement that all diets run along: ‘eat less exercise more’ to show that a sustained lifestyle with daily activity is the most important part. Weight gains and goes slowly. If rushed, it will bounce back.

All these books focus mostly on nutrition, while physical exercise is half the story when it comes to health

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