Karen's Blog

Men Have Hormones Too!

Karen Brooks

If you were to read or hear the phrase "hormonal imbalances" - I would put money on the fact most of you would think of "women's problems"! However, I think most people forget, or are unaware, that men can have hormonal imbalances too. Men and…

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Eczema and the Skin Microbiome

Karen Brooks

Humans have over 1000 species of bacteria naturally living on the skin. The species vary on different areas of the body. Most of these bacteria are commensals (non-harmful to us) and …

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COVID-19 and Gut Microbiota Composition

Karen Brooks

"Gut Microbiota Composition Reflects Disease Severity and Dysfunctional Immune Responses in Patients With COVID-19" Yeoh, Zuo, Lui et. al. BMJ January 2021 I read a lot about the microbiome, an awful lot, enough to have learnt that one of the keys to good health is balanced gut microbiota - and now I always eat…

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Is Your Gut Health Affecting Your Skin?

Karen Brooks

The skin is not just a kind of exterior wrapping for the body, it is a complex living organ which can often reflect what is happening inside the body. As well as being a large defense barrier to anything the body is exposed to, it is also one of the routes by which the body gets rid of toxins. …

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Look After Your Microbiome and It Will Look After You!

Karen Brooks

Having just received the results of a gut microbiome test I submitted, this has made me particularly conscious of how readily microbiome composition can change depending on the foods it is exposed to. Mine is actually not too bad but there is room for improvement! However, the microbiome is not only influenced by diet but also by exposure to…

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Feed Your Gut Bugs

Having a healthy, balanced, microbiome is the key to good health. It has an impact on many aspects of health, not just in the gut but body-wide. When I plan meals, I always consider how what I eat will benefit my microbiome (yes, I know that is quite geeky!). So, I thought I'd share a couple of my current microbiome-friendly recipes/food ideas. Potato Salad Cooked and cooled potatoes are a great source of gut-friendly resistant starch.…

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Selenium: Is It on Your Immune Support Radar?

Karen Brooks

Selenium and the Immune system Selenium is a trace mineral (you only need a bit of it) which plays an essential role in supporting normal immune function. Studies have demonstrated an enhancement of immune responses by increasing levels of selenium intake. Selenium has been shown to stimulate antibody formation and the activity of T cells and Natural Killer cells of the immune system. Selenium is also an antioxidant that…

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Thyroid or Menopause?

Karen Brooks

Today is World Thyroid Day. It is estimated that about 70% of women are affected by menopausal symptoms. Weight gain, sleep problems, fatigue, low mood, dry skin, thinning hair, joint pain these all sound like symptoms of menopause and if you're a woman in your 40's or 50's you may assume these are all menopause related. But they could actually be symptoms of thyroid disease.…

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Vitamin D: What You Need to Know

Most of us will have come across Vitamin D due to its association with bone health. Without vitamin D our bodies cannot effectively absorb calcium, which is essential for good bone health. More recently, due to the current coronavirus pandemic, its vital role in immune system function…

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Is Your Bowel Irritable?

IBS is a widespread functional digestive disorder (functional means there are symptoms but no signs of actual disease). It affects approximately 10-15% of the world population! Symptoms are usually frequent, and people often suffer over long periods of time. IBS is divided into subtypes - IBS with constipation, IBS with diarrhoea or IBS with mixed constipation/diarrhoea. Other common symptoms include bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain, nausea, depression and fatigue. Treatments are usually based on the main symptoms, although…

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Healthy Gut, Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Karen Brooks

Having a healthy, well-functioning gut (gut refers to the whole digestive tract) is one of the keys to overall health. I think we all get the occasional symptom such as a bit of bloating, heartburn, a headache etc from time to time. However some people get these kinds of symptoms regularly and it becomes their "normal". They may seek help from…

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Cold-Busting Ginger and Parsnip Soup

Parsnips are a great source of vitamin C, K and folate and other immune supporting nutrients such as zinc, magnesium…

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Wild About Garlic

Karen Brooks

Wild garlic has been one of my recent discoveries. Now one of my highlights of spring is the appearance of this amazing plant in our local woodland. Not only does it look stunning during its short flowering period, it is also a delicious food and has properties which make it beneficial to health. Ramsons - Bear's garlic…

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Buying Organic - Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen 2019

Karen Brooks

The Environmental Working Group's 2019 "Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen" list of fruits and vegetables with the most/least pesticide residue was released earlier this month. The best way to avoid harmful pesticides that can act as endocrine disruptors (chemicals which can interfere with the body's hormone systems) and potentially increase cancer risk is, where possible, to opt for organic versions of the produce on this list.…

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How Pomegranates May Help to Control Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Karen Brooks

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), the two main forms being Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, affect more than 300,000 people in the UK. These conditions are a result of problems with the immune system which lead…

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How Does Food Affect Your Mood?

Karen Brooks

It has long been assumed that the gut and the brain communicate via a slow, hormonal pathway. Now a paper that has just been published in the renowned journal 'Science' shows…

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The Health Benefits of Cherries

Have you ever found that there are some nights when sleep doesn't come easily? Sleep is one of the pillars of good health. Poor sleep is associated with weight gain, poor concentration, increased risk of heart attacks,…

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Something To Chew Over....

Chewing your food well is advice I often give to clients. This may sound really obvious and somewhat parental yet chewing is an important, but sometimes under-appreciated, stage of digestion. It is not uncommon for people these days to be eating in a rush, at their desk, walking around, in front of a screen - in which case the body will most likely not be in…

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Saffron

Just recently, I've been using a wider variety of spices in my cooking, as I am aware many of them…

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Plant-rich diets may help prevent depression.

"The growing evidence for nutritional psychiatry suggests that GPs and mental health professionals should now seriously consider including dietary counselling for patients who are at risk of depression." Read the full article here; THECONVERSATION

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Spotlight on Sweeteners

Karen Brooks

There is no doubt that a high sugar diet is detrimental to health. Sugar occurs naturally in many foods and is added to most processed foods, under several different guises, making it difficult to avoid and to determine how much we are consuming. Excess sugar consumption has been associated with many illnesses and so reducing our intake is a crucial step in preventing ill…

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