Answers


If you have any questions about nutrition and healthy eating please email me: alex@eatingforhealth.co.uk


What is your approach to healthy eating? How do you work with your clients?

Here’s just a brief outline of the main principles of eating for better health.

1. Cleansing – keeping your body clean and healthy.

There should be more toxins and waste coming out of your body than taken in with the food and drink.

Let’s face it, our bodies are loaded with toxins and waste. After decades on a typical western diet an average person would have accumulated enough toxins and waste to have an adverse effect on health.

It is time to stop adding toxins and waste and to start the process of cleansing. This is not a one off detox of the body. This is a continual, gentle cleansing process which will run for months and years to come. The result of body cleansing is improving health and vitality.

2. Optimal work of the excretory system.

For the process of cleansing to work we need to make sure that your organs of excretion (the gut, the liver, the kidneys, the skin and the respiratory system) are working at the optimal level. The most important organ of elimination is the gut. Sluggish and overworked gut is not going to do a great job of eliminating waste.

3. Full nutritional value.

Your diet should be nutritionally complete.

For some people it is easy to get carried away, or even get obsessed by the detox and cleaning. It is easy to forget that to stay healthy we need all macro nutrients – carbs, protein, fats and micro nutrients – vitamins and minerals. We also need a lot of energy from the food we eat. This energy is required not only for our body activities, daily tasks but for the cleansing of the body as well.

4. Eating for the body needs.

We learn to distinguish and recognise the difference between genuine body needs for nutrients and energy and physiological needs for comfort food and food as entertainment. Your body has amazing built in mechanisms for deciding what and when to eat – hunger and appetite.

5. Enjoying your new foods.

Wean yourself off chemical flavour and taste enhancers; give your body some time to adjust to natural tastes and flavours of new natural foods, fresh fruits and veg.

6. No food deprivation and never forcing any food changes.

While keeping most the normal foods you were eating before we gradually increase the proportion of fresh fruit and veg in your diet. You can make the changes as fast or as slow as you want to.

7. Moving from damaging foods to less harmful and eventually to healthy eating.

There will be some harmful foods in your diet which you can’t give up right now. It could be because it would cause too much emotional discomfort or because they are needed for nutrients, vitamins and energy. A good example here is processed meat – burgers and sausages. They can be replaced with steak and chicken.

The whole process of changing diet should be as natural as possible.

8. Let your body have a chance to try an alternative to your typical western diet.

If your body is used to a typical western diet you will be surprised to see how well it responds to the natural, whole and fresh foods. It is just a matter of giving your body a chance to experience fresh natural foods. Delicious natural foods require a fraction of the energy needed for digestion of denatured heavy meals. With time you will naturally want to eat more and more fresh whole foods.

9. Take a step back if you need to.

If you find that you are moving too fast, that there are too many slip backs or that your body is not adjusting to new foods fast enough it is ok to take a step back and start eating some of the foods you are used to.


How much fibre should I have in my diet?

Men under the age of 50 should consume 38 grams per day and women under the age of 50 should consume 25 grams per day. We eat fibre to stimulate normal work of the digestive system and to feed friendly bacteria in the gut.

There’s no need to know the exact amount of fibre in the foods you eat and calculate how many grams you eat every day. The best approach is to eat as much fresh veg salads as you can without forcing yourself to do so.

Initially you will need to find your own, individual amount of fibre to include in your food. The best indicator of the right amount of fibre in your diet is that you have two or three regular, adequate bowel movements per day.

Having too much fibre in your diet, especially from supplements, could have the opposite effect. If the walls of your small intestine are weak or overworked than too much fibre could make it even more difficult for the small intestine to push through the food. Adequate intake of water could be another problem. To move through the small intestine the food has to be of a certain consistency. If the food is too dry it will be hard to move along the small intestine.


Should I avoid fats and oils?

It is only possible to avoid fats if you eat almost exclusively the most unhealthy, processed, denaturised, fat-free foods. Lack of fats in your diet may not help you achieve your health goal and in the long term will cause some health problems.

Completely excluding fats from your diet to reduce cholesterol levels or to lose weight is not a good idea.

Fats are one of the three essential macronutrients – we need fats in substantial quantities for the major functions of the body. An adequate supply of fats is required for normal functioning of the nervous system, for absobrion of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and to maintain healthy skin.

The skin is the first to suffer inadequate supply of the fats in the body. When the supply of fats is low all available fats are used for the regeneration of the nerve system. Fatigue, loss of memory and lack of mental clarity may be the symptoms that the nervous system is affected by the lack of the fats.

Deficiencies of fat soluble vitamins take longer to develop – usually several months.

To improve your diet focus on reducing the amount of processed foods in your diet and introduce more natural, fresh, whole plant based foods which are an excellent source of all nutrients including healthy fats.

Avoid animal fat and eat as much plant based fats as you want – they contain easy to digest healthy fats in the right combination. There are traces of fats and oils in almost all natural plant based foods.


Should I eat more protein?

The amount of protein you should eat daily depends on your age, gender and physical activity. If you eat meat and dairy products every day you probably consume too much animal protein.

The government advice is that we should eat 0.7g per each kg of body weight. There’s protein in almost any food we eat – in grains (rice protein 2.7 g – per 100g), in beans (protein 21 g – per 100g), in bread (protein 14 g – per 100g) and even bananas have some protein (protein 1.1 g – per 100g).

If you want to make your diet healthier you should reduce the amount of meat. It takes a lot of time and energy to digest animal protein. Toxic by-products of animal protein digestion need to be metabolised and eliminated from the body.

Unlike carbs and fats protein cannot be stored in the body. Eating more protein will just add another load to your already hard working digestive system. Any excess protein will be converted into fat and stored in the body. Excess amino acids will have to be filtered out and removed from the body.


Why does my skin turn orange after drinking carrot juice?

When you drink carrot juice a yellow-orange pigment called beta-carotene is absorbed into the blood steam. Carotene is very beneficial to our bodies – it is a potent antioxidant and it is a source of vitamin A.

If your body is not used to absorbing a lot of carrot juice there won’t be a sufficient amount of enzymes to break down carotene. The excess carotene is absolutely harmless and the body will store it under the skin for later use. The palms, soles, knees, elbows and folds around the nose are usually the first areas of the skin to turn orange.

If carotene were in any way harmful to the body it would be filtered out by the kidneys and eliminated via bladder and urine.

I would recommend that you keep drinking smaller amounts of carrot juice and let your enzyme systems adjust to the new diet and carrot juice.


I am always hungry in the evening. Is it OK to eat at night?

First of all, you need to take some steps to make sure you are getting an adequate amount of nutrients and energy during the day. The best way to do so is to have 4 or 5 smaller meals or snacks throughout the day. Avoid all denaturised, processed food as well as white bread, sugary drinks and snacks.

If you are truly hungry at night it is OK to eat a small meal as long as you are eating according to your hunger and appetite. It is very unlikely that the body, the digestive system the enzyme system will be ready for a heavy meal. A small plate of juicy and easy to digest fruit will stay in the stomach for about 30 minutes.


Indigestion and heart burn. What can I do?

Your digestive system is sending you a very strong signal that it is not happy. It is not coping with the amount of food and the food is very difficult to digest. Usually it is fried and greasy food that causes indigestion. Eating late at night before going to bed may also cause indigestion.

If you suffer from indigestion occasionally:

  • To start with give your digestive system time to recover and rest;
  • Do not eat when you are not hungry;
  • Do not overeat;
  • Eat smaller meals of easy to digest foods;
  • Do not eat heavy meals before you go to bed;
  • Avoid foods that cause indigestion – processed, rich and fatty foods. Your body is telling you that it cannot digest them;
  • Avoid acidic foods and drinks – they contribute to over acidic digestive environment;

If you suffer from indigestion very often – this could indicate that your entire digestive and excretory systems are out of balance. Long term strategy should focus on elimination of difficult to digest foods – red meat, dairy, dietary fats, simple sugars, processed, preserved, refined and fried foods.

The body is just not coping with digestion and elimination of waste. Simple remedies are not going to work here. Only a complete overhaul of your diet can have a lasting positive effect on your digestion and your overall health. You need to have a clear picture of what you eat, how much you eat and when you eatWhere do I start?

The good news is that if given a chance to rest and recover, followed by with easy to digest and natural foods your digestive system will respond and respond very quickly.


How to deal with sugar cravings?

The best strategy that works for most people is to reduce and replace any addictive food. Start with the most harmful and damaging to your health foods and drinks – e.g. carbonated drinks. If at present you cannot give them up completely because it will cause too much emotional discomfort reduce the amount you drink. If you can – give them up completely and replace them with fruit juices and smoothies.

Make a list of the foods you eat that contain sugar. Rate them from “easy to give up” to “impossible to give up”. Start with those which are the easiest for you give up. After a week or two have another look at the list of foods and snacks with sugar. As you reduce the amount of sugar in your diet and replace it with healthy sugars in fruit and juices your body will adjust and respond in a really positive way. Those foods that you thought were fairly difficult to give up should be easy to give up now. And those foods which you thought were impossible to give up will be in the category “hard to give up”.

Avoid artificial sweeteners. Any amount of sugar will be better than extremely damaging chemical substances in artificial sweeteners.

Eliminating or cutting back on processed and ultra-processed foods is also a good strategy to reduce sugar in your diet. Most sugar is hidden in processed products like bread, snacks, breakfast bars, ketchup and sugary drinks. Sugar in not the worst ingredient in these processed foods. By far the most damaging ingredients are chemical additives, flavour enhancers and preservatives.


Should I try a detox? I heard that detoxing the liver is good for your health.

Be careful, especially if you never tried a detox before. It is difficult to predict how your body is going to react. Be especially careful with liver detox – you need a perfectly working gut – the only way the liver can release toxins is via the small intestine for elimination with the stool. If the gut is sluggish and overloaded than the toxins will be stuck in the small intestine and reabsorbed into the bloodstream causing all kinds of very unpleasant symptoms.

A one off detox may be Ok – you might feel lighter and cleaner after it, but the results are not going to last for a long time. I would recommend a healthy diet which would stimulate the excretory system to remove more toxins from the body than you get with the food.

Only a well-functioning excretory system and a healthy diet will ensure a lasting, on-going cleansing of the body.  A combination of healthy eating and perfectly working gut will remove accumulated waste and toxins and make your body cleaner and healthier.


Why do I get coated tongue in the morning? 

The white or brown coating on the tongue does not come from something you had to eat recently. This coating always appears in the morning or after a longish break between meals. For example if you skipped a meal or two during the day you might get a white or yellowish coating on the tongue. So this coating on the tongue comes from inside of your body.

After some time after a meal the digestive tract goes into the cleansing mode and starts to remove toxins and waste from the blood and nearby tissues. These toxins appear as coating on the surface of the mucous membrane along the digestive tract.

The entire digestive tract is involved in the cleaning process. The coating we see in the mouth is just a tiny fraction of what appears along the entire length of the digestive tract. As they say, the tongue it the mirror of the digestive system – from esophagus to rectum.

There’s good news and there’s not so good news. The good news is that your body and especially the digestive tract is cleansing. The not so good news is that there are too much toxins and mucus deposits that the body is trying to use any opportunity, any break between meals to get rid of them. The thickness of the coating is a good indicator of the intensity of the cleansing process.


I would like to eat more fruit but I suffer from gas and bloating. What can I do?

When natural occurring organic acids in fruits come in contact with deposits of mucus lining in the small intestine they cause a reaction resulting in release of gases. If your small intestine is sluggish and clogged with food and mucus deposits the gases remain trapped, expand and cause discomfort and pain. If these gases can find a way out they can be beneficial as they help to stimulate the peristalsis (a wave like movement) of the small intestine and help to normalise bowel movement function.

So the problem here is not the fruits but the sluggish gut with mucus deposits. First of all it is important to normalise bowel movement function. This will help any trapped gases to find a way out. This could result in flatulence, but it will go away as your gut becomes more active and cleaner.

The reaction to fruits is very individual – fruits that cause bloating in one person can be absolutely fine with another. There are about a dozen of various organic acids in fruits. Each variety of fruit contains different amounts and different combinations of these organic acids. The reaction and amount of gases released will depend on the composition of the small intestine lining.

Identify those fruits which cause bloating. Usually these are acidic fruits like apples. It is probably a good idea to limit or eliminate all acidic and gas forming fruits until your bowel movement function normalised. There are plenty of other fruits which do not cause any bloating – bananas, berries, grapes, melons. First try a small amount of any unfamiliar fruits to see how your body reacts to them.

If there were too little fruits in your diet over the last few years your body needs to learn how to digest fruits. The best strategy is to find those fruits you really like and gradually increase the amount and variety of the fruits in your diet.


I am worried about what I eat. Do I eat too much? Too little? Do I eat the right foods?

If your idea of healthy eating is based on beliefs and concepts you learned from books and the Internet than you will have plenty of reasons to worry and doubt.

On the other hand, if your meals are based on the needs of the body than there will be no doubts what to eat and how much to eat. Your body never doubts or wants something because someone said or you think it was healthy. Your body is never going to be polite finish the plate or pretend to like something.

We can always trust the body with the exception foods with flavour and taste enhancers and addictive foods. Those foods were deliberately designed to trick the body into eating more of them.  

If you eat only fresh fruit, veg and natural whole foods then you will find it easy to listen to your body and eat for the needs of the body. Natural mechanisms for regulating food intake – hunger and appetite will help you decide what to eat and how much to eat.


Should I take probiotics?

Probiotics are sold as a product that helps to improve and re-populate your gut flora with friendly bacteria. A lot of people take them with various degrees of positive effects on their digestion.

Probiotics might have a short term positive effect on your gut flora. Friendly bacteria need a nutrient base in the small intestine. If the nutrient base is missing they are not going to stay there.

If you wanted to re-populate your garden with butterflies you wouldn’t go out to buy butterflies and release them in your garden.  You would get rid of anything that might attract the flies and plant flowers. The butterflies would stay in your garden.

Eat more fresh fruit and veg and to create a perfect permanent nutrient base for healthy gut flora.

For a lasting effect on your gut flora – take some steps to minimise damage: eliminate coffee, soft drinks, alcohol, cut back or eliminate all animal based foods.

Then you can take some probiotics to improve your gut flora.

Probiotics should be taken when the acid in the stomach is at its lowest level – 30 min before a meal or before going to bed.


How can I get rid of subcutaneous fat?

A lot of fat is stored under the skin as subcutaneous tissue. When the body is overloaded by excess nutrients and waste it stores them as subcutaneous tissue to be removed by the skin. The skin is a powerful organ of excretion. Although it is not the skin’s primary function it can eliminate a lot of waste and toxins from the body when the other organs of excretion are not coping with the load.  

Sometimes people lose a lot of weigh with healthy eating but they cannot get rid of the layer of fat from under the skin – especially in the belly region. This is because the skin is not working properly as an organ of elimination. Because subcutaneous fat is not water soluble it cannot be absorbed into the blood and removed by other organs of excretion. The only way we can get rid of subcutaneous fat it through the skin.

People who exercise a lot and sweat a lot have no problem getting rid of the fat from under the skin. On the other hand people who have dry skin and those who rarely sweat find it difficult to shift this layer of fat.

If you are one of these people you need to train your skin to work better as an organ of elimination. The entire skin should be regularly exposed to contrast temperatures – heat and cold. Sauna, contrast showers, aerobic exercise that makes you sweat will increase blood flow to the skin and stimulate sweating. Subcutaneous fat is not going to disappear over a couple of weeks but you should notice a big difference fairly soon.


Is it OK to drink water with food?

The short answer is yes. Any excess water which is not required for digestion will be quickly absorbed by the stomach walls. Our digestive system can regulate the amount of digestive juices according to its needs.

All cooked food is dehydrated (with some exceptions – soup). In order to hydrate and digest cooked food, especially cereals and fried food, the body needs to use water from its own reserves. If the reserves are low the lump of food that travels through the small intestine becomes too dry and difficult to push through. This may lead to poor absorption of nutrients and constipation.


What can I do to help my digestive system?

Give your digestive system a rest whenever possible. It is the most abused and overworked system in the body. The small intestine is the most important part of the digestive tract. It consists of smooth muscle which works in wave like movements to move the food along. Just as any muscle in the body it can get tired.

Your enzyme producing organs – the pancreas and the liver – also need to recover. These orgnas suffer from the continual demand on digestive enzymes and bile supply.

Eat smaller meals, have longer periods between meals, have juice fasts sometimes, choose very light and easy to digest food, try for a few days 8/16 pattern (8 hour window when you eat – 16 hour rest for digestive system). Start with 12 hour fasts (ie 7pm at night until 7am in the morning) and work your way up to 16-8 hour periods.


I eat plenty of veg and fibre but my gut is very sluggish – I feel bloated and constipated.

The small intestine wall is made of smooth muscle. As any muscle in the body it can be overworked and tired; a tired muscle cannot work efficiently – it needs some reset. The small intestine is the most overworked organ in the body. Sometimes the best we can do to stimulate the work of the small intestine is to give it some rest.

The best way to do this is a juice fast. For half a day or a full day we eat nothing and drink plenty of freshly squeezed fruit or veg juice. The juice gives us energy and nutrients without any load on the small intestine and the digestive system. After some time on a juice fast your gut and the entire digestive system will work more efficiently.

Physical activity is also important for developing a strong intestine wall. People who exercise regularly and have strong abdominal muscles usually have a very active gut.


Sometimes I wake up with a swollen puffy face in the morning. What can I do?

There can be many reasons for a swollen face in the morning. If you are otherwise healthy it is probably because that the kidneys are not coping with the load of toxins they need to filter out from the blood.

The kidneys are very active during the night. Toxins need to be removed from the blood as soon as possible before they cause any major damage. The body dilutes the toxins and stores them in tissues under the skin for later removal. If the kidneys haven’t finished removing toxins by the morning the accumulated fluid remains in the tissues under the skin and causes swelling.

To stimulate the work of the kidneys drink at least 2 litres of water throughout the day. The kidneys only work when there’s available water in the body.

Healthy plant based diet helps to support the role of the kidneys. Eat plenty of foods that cleanse and tone the kidneys – lemon juice, miso soup, fruits and vegetables, sprouts, whole grains.

Avoid too much salt in your diet. When there’s excess salt in the blood the kidneys will work on filtering and eliminating the salt before they can work on excess water in the connective tissue.


How can I repair my gut flora?

For a healthy microbiome or gut flora we need make sure that the small intestine is free from waste and that there are nutrients or growth medium for the good bacteria. If there’s too much waste in the small intestine – that is the perfect breeding ground for the bad bacteria or pathogenic bacteria and there is no place for the good bacteria.

First of all we need to remove from our diet foods that contribute to the build-up of the waste in the small intestine and normalise bowel movements. In other words, we need to stop feeding the bad bacteria.  If you want something to grow and floush you need to provide it with plenty of nutrients.

As we replace the junk food with healthy food we create perfect conditions for the good bacteria to grow. This is not quick process and it might take some time.

To estimate the percentage of good bacterial in your gut think how much fresh fruit, veg and healthy food you had last couple of years. The proportion of fresh fruit, veg and healthy food in your diet roughly corresponds to the proportion of good bacteria in your gut.

What about Probiotics? Probiotics might help but only if the gut is more or less clean and there’s a growth medium for good bacteria. If there is no growth medium them the friendly bacteria are not going to stay there for long.


Are yoghurt and kefir good for your gut flora?

Yoghurt, kefir and other dairy products are often recommended as gut friendly products because they contain beneficial bacteria. But do they actually help to restore your gut flora? All dairy products stay for a long time in a very acidic environment in the stomach where all bacteria are destroyed by the digestive juices. The stomach is the first line of defence against ALL bacteria in the food we eat.

One of the functions of the acid in the stomach is to kill the invading microorganisms and protect us from bacteria. What remains from dairy products after the initial digestion in the stomach enters the small intestine where it becomes perfect food for pathogenic bacteria.

I would say that all dairy products have a negative effect on the gut micro flora. If you want to have a healthy gut flora avoid or greatly reduce all dairy products.


I eat a lot of fruit and veg and healthy food then why do I feel terrible sometimes?

Your body goes into a detox mode. Detox is never pleasant. Detox means toxins in your blood and when they reach the brain toxins cause all kinds of symptoms associated with intoxication.

The symptoms may include nausea, headache, dizziness, hot flashes and fatigue. These symptoms may vary from very mild to severe depending on intensity of the detox, on your age, on your previous diet and your exposure to toxins in food, drugs and environment.

The detox process usually lasts from several hours to several days. Once it is finished your body will be cleaner and you will feel a lot better.


What are the signs that I have toxins in my liver?

If you have some of the following signs you have toxins accumulated in your liver: insomnia, chronic fatigue, headache (esp. with nausea), skin problems, coated tongue (white or yellow), constipation (toilet once a day), under skin fat, cellulite.

What is the cause of these symptoms? The liver releases toxins into the small intestine and if it is clogged or slow moving these toxins seep into the bloodstream and are carried to all parts of the body.

When toxins reach the brain they cause headache and nausea, if this happens during the night your may have difficulty sleeping. The body tries to remove toxins from the blood as quickly as possible. This is when the skin starts working as an excretory organ and takes on its share of toxins and tries to remove them with sweat and through sebaceous glands of the skin. If the skin is not coping with removal of toxins they get stuck and cause damage to the skin itself.


What can trigger detox of the liver?

Greasy food can trigger a detox of the liver. When fats reach the small intestine the liver needs to emulsify them with bile in order to break them down. The liver releases large amounts of bile to do this. If the liver is overloaded with toxins the bile will contain a high concentration of toxins. These toxins start to seep into the blood through the walls of the small intestine casing the symptoms of intoxication – nausea, headaches, dizziness.

Spicy food, onions and hot peppers can also trigger liver detox.

Sour food containing a lot of acids may trigger liver detox. Acids need to be neutralised by the alkaline bile before they can go further through the small intestine.

If you feel nauseous, have headaches and have other symptoms of intoxication after eating greasy and spicy food this could be because your liver is overloaded with toxins.

Intense heat and intense physical activity and stressful situations may also trigger liver to release toxins into the small intestine and cause nausea.