Tag Archives: cancer

Dry Skin, Flaking Nails and Adding Good Fats

Thick,dry Toenails
Thick, dry Toenails

Many patients come to me with dry, itchy skin, cracked heels and flaking nails. The first question I ask is, ‘What does your diet look like?’ and almost invariably, their diet consists of highly processed foods, foods cooked in sunflower or canola oil, take away foods, and the occasional salad or vegetable.  Alternatively, the opposite is true.  The patient has removed all fat from their diet in an attempt to lose weight and the result, in both case, is problematic.

Our body needs good quality fat to function optimally.  Every single one of our approximately 100 trillion cells, is surrounded by a fatty membrane. In addition, the precursor to our hormones, is cholesterol, so a balance between saturated fats and Omega 3, with minimal omega 6, (with the exception of omega 6 oils such as evening primrose), is essential for health.

So how do you know if your body is not getting enough good quality fat?

  • Dry skin and cracked heels
  • Inflamed and painful joints
  • Dry, flaky nails
  • Hard ear wax
  • Small bumps on the backs of your arms
  • Memory and mood problems
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Poor stress management
  • Weight gain
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes

While the body is an interconnected web and some of the conditions mentioned have a cascade of other contributory factors, low and poor quality fat intake is a player in poor health, in contrast to the outdated belief that fat is bad for you.

Not one of us would consider building our house using poor quality bricks and cement and yet we continue to feed our body with food that ultimately leads to poor health and in some cases, catastrophic  challenges such as cancer. Far better is developing a practice of feeding the body with high quality materials that will result in prompt and efficient repair, high energy and efficient cellular communication.

Poor quality fats result in a cell membrane that is stiff and rigid and not soft and fluid. A fluid membrane allows the transference of nutrients, vitamins and hormones that assist the cell metabolism.  In contrast, when the membrane is rigid and inflexible, the receptor sites are distorted and do not offer docking sites conducive to efficient transfer.

In addition to that, because communication between cells is poor, this increases susceptibility to inflammation, immune problems and DNA damage, as necessary vitamins and minerals are also prevented from reaching their targets. Consuming healthy fats also helps us absorb the important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

Dry Skin-corn oil
corn oil


What foods must I avoid

  • Processed foods. These contain cheap fats, high levels of omega 6 and trans fats
  • Sunflower oil, canola oils, cottonseed, safflower, corn oil

Please see the following article on oils and fats used in processed foods.

Deep fried take away and commercial foods.

We all love that heady smell of take- away chips. That delicious aroma of salt with a touch of vinegar, crispy edges, soft inside. Yum. Or what about that quick mid afternoon snack of crisp chips, purchased from the vending machine or the company kiosk.

Aside from the sublime eating pleasure, what are we really putting inside our body and is it worth it?

A few years ago, we were told that saturated fats were lethal for heart health and that margarine or ‘heart healthy’ tubs of spread were suddenly a healthier choice. Food manufacturers were delighted with this. Liquid fats such as sunflower oil, corn oil and canola oil are cheaper than butter and coconut oil but the downside to these liquid fats, is that they destabilize and deteriorate quickly. Light and heat negatively affect their chemical structure. To stabilize these oils, manufacturers ‘hydrogenated’ them (combined them with hydrogen atoms using a nickel catalyst) and lo and behold.. a longer shelf life. However, this process produced trans-fats which are deadly to health. There are no safe minimal levels to trans-fats and as consumers have become aware of this, manufacturers have been forced to re-look at the way they produce their processed foods. Many processed foods such as biscuits, popcorn, frozen pies, pizza, coffee creamers and many others, still contain hydrogenated fats and margarine. Indeed margarine is still sold as a ‘healthy’ alternative to butter in spite of undisputed evidence that it is not healthy at all. On the contrary, it is downright risky.

​ Now few people are unaware of the dangers of trans-fat. We look for labels that state, NO trans-fats and we believe we are doing the right thing. We use sunflower oil to fry at home and because sunflower seeds are plants, we again believe we are making healthy choices. Butter bad, sunflower oil good!

Some manufacturers have reverted back to the liquid, more unstable fats and this is where the ‘hidden’ dangers lie.

Buying deep fried ‘slap’ chips for example.

Dry Skin-French-Fries
French Fries

The oil in the deep fryers is re-used repeatedly and the degraded oils have health as well as practical disadvantages. One of the practical disadvantages is a ‘mist’ of polymers that clings, like a varnish, to stoves, extractors and even the clothes and hair of the cooks.

Health-wise, the aldehyde, caused by the chemical breakdown, is extremely toxic and has been cited in scientific journals as being responsible for several diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. So even though manufacturers are eliminating trans-fats, the alternatives with deep fried foods, is not much better.

What alternative is now emerging?

The latest oil for frying is high in Omega 9. (That’s sounds better we think) We see combinations of omega 3, 6 and 9 in the health shops. Surely this is a healthier alternative. But is it?

Sadly, at high heat, omega 9 (including olive oil) denatures into acrolein, (acrylamides) a strong smelling, possibly carcinogenic aldehyde that irritates the eyes and respiratory tract. The oxidised monomeric triglycerides produced at high heat have also been linked to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Every time the oil is reheated, it breaks down still further and oils in factory settings are sometimes reused for up to 2 weeks. That is a lot of breakdown happening.

That is not the only assault to our health. The oils used are also treated to make them acceptable for commercial use. They are certainly not gently pressed and virgin, as we would hope from our salad oil. They are known rather as RBD oils. RBD stands for refined, bleached and deodorised.

This process involves the seeds being crushed and the oil extracted using solvents such as hexane. Then more chemicals are used to remove as much of the solvent as they can from the residue (not all is removed). The result leaves a bit of a gummy residue, which is then ‘degummed’ using acids or enzymes. At this point the oil is already hot and breakdown has begun.

Oh yes… and now it’s a bit smelly and not very appetizing so now the process of bleaching and deodorizing starts, using clay and then heating it to very high heat, at least twice, to get rid of the smell. ( I am smelling a rat by now!)

Food manufacturers also add chemicals to the oils to extend the ‘fry life’. Some of these are the same chemicals that are added to resins and varnish. One of these is actually the same chemical, propylene glycol, you put in your car as anti -freeze. After that, an antifoaming agent is added (a type of silicon called polydimetholsiloxane) plus an anti-splatter (Lecithin.) (Whew, I recognise that name, thank goodness.)

Oh yes, I forgot. Now there is an emulsifier added and sometimes filters are used such as silica, bentonite and perlite, to filter out the gunk from the previous day.

Deep fried commercial foods include: chicken nuggets doughnuts, chicken Kiev, yet when I looked on the label, none of the above was mentioned. This is because they are ‘processing aids’ and not additives, and therefore there is no legal requirement to mention them, but they certainly do not evaporate into thin air once the food is on my plate, about to enter my body.

In the US, the acrylamide produced by the high heat has been classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency as a ‘probable carcinogen’, especially to children. Crisps and chips have been identified as the biggest source of acrylamide in the diet of children.

Take Away Point

We all love these convenience foods but the impact on health can be profound. I suggest you have a ‘food holiday’ once a month, where you allow yourself a day of enjoying the foods you love, but have abstained from for the month. You will possibly find that your enjoyment of them changes over time but if you really feel like a ‘cheat’ from health, you know there is a day allocated to enjoy them.

Dry skin-healthy fats
Healthy Fats


What shall I add to my diet?


  1. Omega 3. Around 2g per day. Alternatively, add sardines and other small oily fish such as herring. Salmon is wonderful for Omega 3 but sadly most salmon is farmed and full of mercury. omega-3s,  help lower levels of bad fats (triglycerides) and raise levels of good fats (HDL). Omega-3 fats make blood more slippery, reducing the likelihood of artery disease.
Dry Skin-Omega 3 Supplements
Omega 3 Supplements
  1. Healthy Omega 6 from whole nuts and seeds such as Brazil nuts
  2. Organic ground Flax seeds or flax seed oil. Add the oil to your salad. Do not heat either olive oil or Flax oil
  3. Coconut oil for cooking or frying. Coconut oil has beneficial medium chain triglycerides. Organic butter from grass fed cows is very beneficial. Use ghee if you are sensitive to dairy.  Butter also does not denature at high heat as oils do.
  4. Avocado and olives


In Vitality



Insulin Resistance and Belly Fat

Insulin Resistance and BellyFat
In a normal metabolism, when we consume carbohydrates, the pancreas will release insulin that carries the glucose (broken down carbohydrates), into the cells to be used for energy output.
When the body has been exposed to prolonged, excessive carbohydrate intake, and the pancreas has had to pour out increased loads of insulin, eventually the cells become less and less sensitive to the insulin and will no longer allow the insulin to carry the glucose into the cells.  The result is that there are high levels of insulin in the blood, a condition known as hyperinsulinemia. This condition is not yet diabetes but left untreated, may become type 2 diabetes.

If the insulin cannot carry the glucose into the cells, the body senses that there is too much sugar in the blood and the pancreas produces yet more insulin, eventually wearing itself out, much like constantly revving your car engine. This becomes Type 2 diabetes.

High levels of insulin, even before the official diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, has far reaching and damaging effects on the body.

Insulin resistance plays a role in the following conditions.
– increased risk of prostate and breast cancer
– Hypertension
– Heart Disease
– Weight gain
– Difficulty losing weight
– Stroke
– Metabolic Syndrome
– Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (infertility)
– Increased triglycerides and decreased HDL
– Affects thyroid health

While factors such as exercise levels and obesity do play a part, not all insulin resistant individuals are obese. Other factors are involved, as greater than 50% of individuals with IRS are not obese, and individuals may have normalized insulin levels while still remaining overweight. The combination of genes and lifestyle may affect the individuals response to insulin.  Nutritional intake may play a huge role in either offering some protection against insulin resistance or indeed, propelling an individual towards this. Apparently, the ability of insulin to stimulate glucose uptake varies widely from person to person, with the degree of obesity only one factor, and each individual needs to be assessed with unique response in mind.

It is insufficient to simply look at fasting glucose to measure diabetes risk or status. Other factors need to be measured to fully understand the individual, particularly when the individual is experiencing symptoms such as:

– Belly fat
– Inability to lose weight no matter what the calorie intake
– Thyroid disturbances
– Sugar or carbohydrate cravings
– mid afternoon slump

What to do about it?

Consult a lifestyle coach or Functional Medicine Practitioner.  Correcting Insulin Resistance is not a linear approach and each person is different. Certain toxins such as mercury play havoc with Insulin as well as the receptor sites on the cell membrane, for example, as well as mistakes in eating timing and food choice.  Some basic minerals such as magnesium deficiency also affect the efficacy of Insulin and the integrity of the receptor site.
Once the status of the individual has been properly assessed, a program of nutritional and vitamin support that will re -sensitise the cells to insulin, plus an exercise regime that may easily be incorporated into the unique lifestyle of that individual, is required.  Stress is also a factor in managing insulin resistance, as well as the impact on the thyroid.  Success is elusive without a multi- pronged approach.

What can I do immediately, before consulting with a Functional Practitioner?

1. Increase Fibre
2. Drink more water

Turning 50

I recently turned 50 and it was as though I fell off a cliff.  One day all was going perfectly with my health and the next, I could barely read a paragraph of my novel without wondering who the people were, let alone study.  Measuring my hormones was a revelation.  I found I had almost zero Progesterone.  Who knows how long this had been dropping off.

I thought I would share the signs and symptoms of low Progesterone with you all… especially those of you who are 45 and older.

If you find you are ticking almost every box, there is hope! While hormones are not to be treated lightly and careful discussion with your doctor is required, as well as time well spent with a Functional Medicine Practitioner or nutritionist, there are several steps you can take for yourself, in order to ameliorate any symptoms you may be experiencing.

  1. Cut out sugars and high GI foods.  These inflame the body and make the brain fog, tension, anxiety and hot flushes worse.
  2. Remove alcohol.  A moderate intake of alcohol is 3 glasses a week. Anything more than that means the liver has to use up precious detoxification enzymes on neutralising the alcohol when these enzymes are better served helping the body process and remove hormone metabolites.  Estrogen dominance occurs when our estrogen levels are high in relation to out progesterone. It is even possible to be Estrogen Dominant with very low levels of Estrogen, simply because we may have even lower levels of Progesterone. Too much Estrogen that is not being metabolised, increases the risks of endometrial and breast cancer.
  3. Eat broccoli and cauliflower. They have a special phytonutrient called Indol-3-carbinol that is very protective against breast cancer.
  4. Add fibre to your diet.  A properly functioning gut will eliminate estrogen metabolites.
  5. Add freshly ground flaxseeds for their lignans.  Also protective against estrogen metabolites.
  6. Keep your weight down or make a special effort to lose weight.  Fat is able to synthesize Estrogen and if one is not eliminating Estrogen metabolites properly, the continual exposure to these metabolites will increase risk of cancer. Click here for a course on weight loss.
  7. Keep Insulin levels down.  Insulin promotes cellular proliferation, as does Estrogen and this contributes to increased risk of poor health.  See the free lecture on Insulin and how it impacts on your health:  Click Here.
  8. Add exercise to your day.  Even 10 minutes daily, while you are waiting for the dinner to cook, will positively impact on mood, well being, blood flow, insulin levels and sugar metabolism. Pump up the music and dance or run up and down stairs 10 x, or skip for 3 minutes.  These are all activities that require no equipment, just determination.
Gentle Exercise
Gentle Exercise

Signs and Symptoms of Pregesterone Deficiency

· sleep disorders
· anxiety
· irregular menses
· hair loss
· cramping
· acne
· low sex drive
· mood swings
· depression
· excessive bleeding
· Infertility
· Thyroid dysfunction or disorders
· Depression
· Fibrocystic breasts
· Weight gain
· Gallbladder disease
· Low blood sugar
· Panic attacks
· Water retention
· Irregular menstrual cycle
· Blood clots during menstruation
· Magnesium deficiency
· Vaginal dryness
· Breast tenderness
· Muscle cramps, sore muscles
· Insomnia
· Dry cracked heels
· Sugar cravings
· Low basal body temperatures
· Cold hands and feet

Turning 50
Hot flashes

Signs and Symptoms of Estrogen Deficiency

  • Fatigue
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Memory lapses
  • Difficult concentrating
  • Joint pain
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Dry skin (which can lead to premature aging, wrinkles, and brown age spots)
  • Loss of libido
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Vaginal infection
  • Arthritis
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Low self Esteem

My own experience has a happy ending. I responded very well to a bio-identical Progesterone cream which my doctor and I are continually monitoring.

Discuss the safety profile of synthetic hormones with your doctor. Synthetic hormones have a very poor safety profile, particularly unopposed estrogen, in other words a synthetic estrogen given with no progesterone.  If you are on an estrogen replacement, talk to your doctor about adding progesterone (not progestins.  These are synthetic and do not have a good safety profile).

I hope this post also helps you.

In Vitality