I recommended a great book a while back, called the Hormone Diet by Dr Natasha Turner. It covered a whole range of hormone-related issues, from thyroid problems to peri-menopause.
Dr Turner said that cutting down on cows’ milk, wheat and gluten in bread, can help a whole heap of hormone problems, make you feel less sluggish, sleep better and generally add to your wellbeing. In fact, everyone can benefit, not just those with coeliac disease or allergies. Giving up bread and milk can help reduce inflammation in the gut. The French have a horrible saying: ‘Death begins in the colon.’ I wouldn’t go that far, but you can certainly slow down the ageing process from the inside out. Celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow et al are currently advocating anti-inflammatory diets; go google it. But not just yet.
Give up bread and milk, you say? The staples of a British diet? Not as hard as you think. There are plenty of good substitutes available in supermarkets; sheep or goats’ milk can take some getting used to, but the St Helen’s range of goats milk products taste less ‘goaty’ than you’d expect. Still not convinced? Try milk made from oats, coconuts, soy, almonds or rice. Buy a selection of milks and mix them up until you find a taste to suit you. If you still can’t face that, try Lactofree, which is cow’s milk with the lactose removed. Worth trying, and better than nothing.
Here is an anti-inflammatory smoothie which makes me feel great straight away:
Half a pint of Koko coconut milk
I teaspoon coconut oil (available from health food shops)
Handful of berries of your choice, fresh or frozen (I use blueberries)
Whizz up with a hand blender in a pint glass, and there you have it!
I don’t think anyone has really cracked gluten-free bread yet, and the ones on the market are ridiculously expensive (please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.) But you can replace your bagels and crumpets with oatcakes, rye bread and rice cakes. Make your own pizzas and pittas using gluten-free flour. I’ve yet to find the perfect gluten-free bread recipe for the breadmaker (I’m far too lazy to make bread by hand.) If and when I come up with one, I’ll let you know.
Many health magazines advocate lemon water; they all say it ‘kick-starts your liver’ but a decent grapefruit juice (eg Tropicana) mixed with boiled water is also a good start to the morning. When you’re the wrong side of forty, unless you’ve had the diet of a saint, your liver starts turning into foie gras, so basically you need the equivalent of an car’s engine degrease on a regular basis.
If you can take it, a teaspoon of Cider vinegar every day is meant to work wonders. It’s recommended you drink it in a small amount of water, but I hate the stuff so much, I think it’s better to neck it neat, then follow it with the water to get rid of the taste.
If you can replace your coffee with herbal teas during the day, even better. Cutting down on caffeine is a different problem. I have managed to gradually replace my coffee with a barley substitute. I ‘cut’ the coffee with the fake stuff, adding more of the barley and less of the coffee day by day, until I got used to the taste. Bambu by A.Vogel is one of the better coffee substitutes, although there are plenty on the maket including dandelion coffee.
I weaned myself off sugar in a similar way. I started using Total Sweet, xylitol which tastes just like sugar. It’s low GI, so doesn’t give you the slump you get after a sugar rush. I add cinnamon powder which keeps blood sugar levels even and also makes you think you’re drinking something sweeter than it actually is.
I still occasionally have manuka honey in tea, if there are a lot of colds and bugs going round, purely for medicinal purposes, you understand. But giving up sugar is like giving up smoking or drugs. When you give it up in tea and coffee, you crave it in sweets, and with kids around, it’s hard not to give into temptation. The only thing I can do is not have any sweet stuff in the house.
Who am I kidding? Easter is coming…..