I’d like to share my nutrition research with you, which I have gathered to try out at home during the lockdown, through studying media as a journalist, nutrition, official advice, politics and science since February. I started after a presentation about the incredible strain on our NHS from preventable diseases such as obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular illness.
This took me to the NHS Vitamins and Minerals pages, which provided information on each micronutrient, which we need through food as our bodies cannot make them and the foods they come from. Of course the NHS has been infiltrated by industry interests, so enriched and fortified foods were included, which are no more than food, which has been stripped of its natural nutrients and supplemented during manufacture.
Our bodies can store or discard nutrients absorbed through food but find it harder to process nutrients accessed through dietary supplements. However, I started with retrieving my vitamin D3 supplement from the bin when I read (aged 49) that in the UK we do not get enough sunlight to make Vitamin D during the winter half of the year and the NHS advises us to take a daily supplement of 10mcg (600 international units) of D3 (animal protein) or D2 (plant) between October and April.
Vitamin D has since been studied for its effects on COVID-19 infection.
Thanks to writings of Dr Zoe Harcombe, Tim Spector, Gary Taubes, Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, Tim Noakes and Dr Jason Fung I was ready when COVID struck to create a healthy diet for myself using micronutrients and only supplements to fill gaps in my diet. Then I changed my diet to access more natural nutrition (started eating eggs, greens, olives, steamed salmon and salad for breakfast and half a cup of porridge oats cooked with 1.5 cups of water for lunch, which meant I could eat whatever I had or wanted for supper and didn’t get hungry between meals).
I am a journalist and researcher always looking for objective facts and reserving my judgment until I’ve gathered the complete picture. I am testing each stage of understanding in my own lifestyle and sharing information with friends and famly, most of whom have had COVID-19 to date. This means I can process feedback to direct my ongoing research, especially catering for a diverse audience with their own objectives and ensuring the information is accessible. The responses from others in the Long COVID support group has been the backbone for this whole idea.
I posted my research in spreadsheet format in the Long COVID support group on 9 July (of course FB makes it impossible to link to the post) when I got results myself from nutrition and learned more about how to trust and listen to my body (saying “no” to alcohol, dairy, sugar, starch, yeast and gluten etc to fight virus). Stress, grief and lack of micronutrients all make us vulnerable to infection, viruses and illness and I found many reports showing that clinical trials do not report how many women are tested for new medications, which means women’s health is not properly understood or catered for. For example, women with endometriosis (1 in 10) may go many times to their doctor and not get a diagnoses and Long COVID sufferers had a long battle to be recognised.
The research is on Appsheet, which funders have sponsored to be live since August. It can be downloaded here or viewed in browsers here. Appsheet don’t let creators see what barriers to entry first time visitors are presented with. I think it is: click link on any device, can dismiss Appsheet installer, click OK to data (no contact details required to access and no user data stored, guest123445 shows each device in user log).
I believe medicine needs to understand health not just sickness and medical intervention. In the late 80s friends developed ME, considered a post viral effect, perhaps of Glandular Fever) and I know many women with ME and fibro myalgia. I was born without a working thyroid gland (supposedly) and recovered from fatigue by cutting cow’s milk, gluten, yeast, sugar and any foods with additives of any sort out of my diet, to just eat single ingredient unadulterated foods. Then I read about anti-nutrients and foods such as soy (never eaten as not good for thyroid), which need to be soaked or fermented for us to digest and access its nutrition (natto, tempeh, miso, edamame beans (young soy) and tofu).
Then searching the medical press revealed that hearing loss and hypothyroidism is a result of iodine deficiency in the womb. I had a LivingDNA wellbeing test, which showed I didn’t absorb B12, Omega 3 or vitamin A and could benefit from supplements, along with Vitamin D when not exposed to sufficient sunlight during the winter half of the year.
As I normally do when I have a cold (had rhinoviruses and coronaviruses before, particularly since 2009), I had plenty of steamed greens, lemon juice, echinacea, inhaling eucalyptus to clear sinuses and added foods rich in vitamins and minerals. Porridge is great for B1 and copper, zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and plant protein as well as being gluten free and eggs are full of nutrients, healthy fats and protein, and both inexpensive even for organic).
My research shared here in mobile format (desktop, mobile, any connected device) on Appsheet can be viewed in browser, no contact details required, no personal questions, no restricting, counting, measuring or assumptions. I believe people interested in nutritional health want to fill gaps in their knowledge and understand food more. Hearth Nutrition (what I call my idea) accompanies you on your own voyage of discovery about food and what to eat, when and why and is objective (all diets, allergies, intolerances and ethics included) and it is free to people in the Long COVID support group.
Once entered the app, Assistant requires with a type field. If like can explore app by typing in food or nutrients or use top menu (3 lines top left) or icons on bottom of page). Thanks to speaking to Jo today, I just realised I could add a spreadsheet on diets so that ‘gluten free’ would provide a list of gluten free foods from the nutrition library. I will do that next weekend.
The amazing feedback I have had from this group since 9 July has inspired all the research and ideas since, which I am putting into a website, which I can ensure will always be free to people who have had COVID-19.
My research journey showed me how all diets and food cultures offer some wisdom, including vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, intermittent fasting, Atkins, Keto, Paleo and Mediterranean. Food is a centre of community and family (hence name Hearth) and objective information (seeing whole picture and context in one go) unites people as it includes diverse perspectives and every culture, tradition and knowledge on earth has something to contribute. Many diets started with a great idea and then became subjective to one particular viewpoint. Therefore, Hearth aims to remain objective, so everyone can find their own answers and learn more about food and nutrition to recover and remain healthy.
Through feedback from this group I discovered how to create meals with minimal preparation and spred out leftovers from when I had energy to cook meat, fish or roast vegetables to keep for variety at each meal. Rather than having just chicken and steamed green vegetables, I would have a varied selection of dollops or slices of cucumber, courgette, artichokes, hummus and/or goat’s cheese to make meals tasty, satisfying and nutritious so our body and mind can use as many micronutrients as possible for recovery and health.
For ultimate health, applying to any diet and putting the individual in control, the aim is to eat 3 meals at 3-5 hour intervals, which means within an 8-10 hour window.
If anyone is interested in the design and execution of an app to go on the appstore next year, please do my 5 minute survey here.