Karen's Blog

Eczema and the Skin Microbiome

Wednesday 24th February 2021
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 contribute to maintaining good health of the skin. They do this by taking up space, preventing pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria from taking up residence. In addition, the commensal bacteria can actively protect the skin by secreting antimicrobial substances. …

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COVID-19 and Gut Microbiota Composition

Saturday 16th January 2021
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 -…

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Is Your Gut Health Affecting Your Skin?

Monday 28th December 2020
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…

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Look After Your Microbiome and It Will Look After You!

Thursday 8th October 2020
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,…

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Feed Your Gut Bugs

Wednesday 1st July 2020

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. Resistant starch…

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Selenium: Is It on Your Immune Support Radar?

Thursday 4th June 2020
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…

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Thyroid or Menopause?

Monday 25th May 2020
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…

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Vitamin D: What You Need to Know

Sunday 24th May 2020

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…

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Is Your Bowel Irritable?

Tuesday 28th April 2020

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

Wednesday 22nd April 2020
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 the doctor…

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Cold-Busting Ginger and Parsnip Soup

Tuesday 4th February 2020

Parsnips are a great source of vitamin C, K and folate and other immune supporting nutrients such as zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6. Parsnips are also a rich source of antioxidants and dietary fibre - your gut bacteria will love this soup. Add in the anti-inflammatories ginger and turmeric and you are on to a winner! As well as having these great qualities it…

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Wild About Garlic

Sunday 28th April 2019
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…

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Buying Organic - Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen 2019

Sunday 31st March 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…

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

Saturday 2nd February 2019
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…

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How Does Food Affect Your Mood?

Monday 17th December 2018
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 that there is a faster means of communication between gut and brain. By researching a mouse model, they were able to show that the gut and the brain are connected via one single synapse (the space between nerve…

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The Health Benefits of Cherries

Sunday 9th December 2018

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, strokes, type 2 diabetes, depression, impaired immune function and chronic inflammation. Whilst reading around…

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Something To Chew Over....

Wednesday 21st November 2018

Chewing your food well is advice I often give to clients. This may sound really obvious and somewhat parental yet chewing is…

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Saffron

Saturday 13th October 2018

Just recently, I've been using a wider variety of spices in my cooking, as I am aware many of them have therapeutic value as well as being delicious additions.…

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Plant-rich diets may help prevent depression.

Monday 1st October 2018

"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…

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Spotlight on Sweeteners

Wednesday 26th September 2018
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 health. In my opinion,…

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