Thursday, 2 March 2017

March 2017: osteoporosis


While osteoporosis can have multiple causes and is partly inherited, lifestyle changes, made early, can prevent osteoporosis later. Diet and exercise will even slow down bone loss after it’s been diagnosed.
Osteoporosis is not caused by loss of bone mineral itself, but by loss of the collagen scaffolding on which the minerals should be deposited. This network provides resistance against fracture. Unfortunately, ageing and disease affect it.
There are two types:
Postmenopausal osteoporosis commonly affects women after the menopause, when they are producing less oestrogen. Bone material starts breaking down, often resulting in fractures of the wrist and spine.
Senile osteoporosis happens after age 70. The hard outer layers and the spongy interior of bones get thinner, which may cause hip and spinal fractures.
Men, too, can get it, and one of the causes can be medications. For how and why, see [0].

  • Milk and osteoporosis are linked but not in the way most people have been led to believe. Milk can actually be a cause of osteoporosis [1]! 
  • Too much animal protein in general, can leach calcium from our bones [2]. 
  • high-acid diet, which is common and easily avoided [3]. Foods that promote low body pH levels, such as refined foods, sugar, coffee, soft drinks, table salt etc., also leach calcium out of our bones. If we don’t eat enough vegetables or fruit; if we have stress, hyperinsulinemia or poor digestion, our bodies will become too acidic. 
  • Medications may cause osteoporosis [4]. One of them being Fosamax, an osteoporosis prevention drug …. [5]. Contraceptives, immunosuppressants, PPIs, hypothyroidism drugs and many others, also weaken bones. See [6].
  • Fluoride in drinking water. Fluoride collects in the bones, and although technically it increases bone mass and density, the evidence is very strong that fluoride intake can actually double the incidence of hip fractures [7].
  • Lack of essential fatty acids. Gamma Linolenic Acid we can get from the oils of evening primrose, hemp, blackcurrant seed and borage seed; also from oats, barley, spirulina, avocados and peanuts. Eicosapentaenoic Acid is in coldwater fatty fish and shellfish [8].
  • Lack of weight-bearing exercise.
  • Insufficient nutrientsmagnesium and vitamin D3 [9], phosphorus [10], vitamin K [11] and boron [12] in our diet. However, if we eat plenty of vegetables, nuts and seeds, (fatty) fish eggs and whole foods, we need not worry in that respect.
  • Smoking!

Milk is not the friend we thought it was.
”To assume that osteoporosis is due to calcium deficiency is like assuming that infection is due to penicillin deficiency .... it's not that our bodies don't get enough calcium, rather that they excrete too much of what they already have .... The most important culprit is almost certainly the overconsumption of protein. High-protein foods such as meat, eggs and dairy make excessive demands on the kidneys, which in turn leach calcium from the body. One solution, then, isn't to increase our calcium intake, but to reduce our consumption of protein, so our bones don't have to surrender so much calcium. Astonishingly, according to this newer, more critical view, dairy products almost certainly help to cause, rather than prevent, osteoporosis.” [1]
So instead of drinking lots of milk, it’s best to:
- consume fresh and organic greens, plenty of root vegetables; fruits
- avoid simple carbohydrates
- make soup stock [13]
- have colloidal minerals or mineral rich herbs
- plenty of pure water
- onions and blackstrap molasses [14].
Avoid "white foods": white sugar, white flour, white pasta, white rice and any foods containing them. Choose whole grains such as whole wheat, barley, spelt, quinoa, kamut or brown rice; and pasta or bread made with any of those [3].
Varying weight-bearing exercises are very important: walking, aerobics, tennis, jogging, bouncing and ballroom dancing - do them all, if you can! See also [15]. 

And what to do once you have it
1) The ‘prevention’ diet also helps slow down bone loss when it seems too late [3].
2) Keep moving - but carefully [16].
3) Plenty of drugs are promoted for the management of osteoporosis but they have many and serious side effects and even the benefits are questionable [17]. University of Illinois researchers are saying that an effective strategy to keep bones strong should be to simply increase dietary calcium and vitamin D or take supplements. "For many people, prescription bone-building medicines should be a last resort.” [18] 

See also [19].


broad beans, early carrots, early Brussels, parsnips, main crop peas, radish, spinach (or spinach beet, better value than proper spinach), chard, turnip, lettuce, early/summer cabbage, spring onions, early cauli, bulb onions, beet, celery (late March).
Plant: potatoes, onion sets, shallots, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes.

veg: purple sprouting broccoli, kale, cavolo nero, squash, cauli, spring greens, radishes, rhubarb, leeks, carrots, spring onions, salad leaves, parsnips, cabbage, chicory, sorrel, swede, beet, brussels, rocket, turnips, celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes, watercress.
fishdab, red gurnard, grey mullet, mussels, oysters, clams, mackerel, herring, megrim, scallops.
meatrabbit, turkey, wood pigeon, beef, mutton, pork, venison.


Purple sprouting broccoli is, of course, flavour of the month. Plenty of recipes using that here: [20].

600g pollack/coley/colin fillets (or cod if you must ...), 4-8 sliced black olives, 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 300g tomatoes, 400g shredded cavolo, (25g capers), chopped chives and parsley.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Place fish on a greased tray. Mix together olives, oil and capers if you use them. Season and spoon over the fish; add tomatoes. Bake for 15–20 mins. Meanwhile, boil cavolo nero for ab. 8 mins. Drain, return to pan. Stir in herbs and fish juice. Divide between 4 plates and top with fish and tomatoes.

NETTLE SOUP (yes, we've had this before, but every year it's a bit different!)
4 large handfuls of nettle tops, 1 large onion, 50g butter, 2 potatoes, 1l stock, 1- 2 tblsp crème fraîche, seasoning, nutmeg.
Strip nettles from thicker stalks, wash. Melt butter and simmer chopped onion until golden. Add nettles and quite finely chopped potatoes and cook for 2-3 mins. Add stock, simmer for 15-20 mins. Liquidize, add seasoning, grated nutmeg and serve with a whirl of crème fraîche.
For the health benefits of nettles, see
600g trimmed spring greens6 tbsp crème fraîche, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and cumin if you have/like it. 
Cut spring greens in half lengthways. Bring wide, shallow pan of salted water to the boil and add the greens. Bring back to the boil and cook briefly, about 1-2 mins, drain (or longer if you like your veg well done!). Mix crème fraîche in a pan with a sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and bring almost to the boil. Carefully add the greens so they don’t overlap too much and reheat gently. Stir the cabbage into the creme, sprinkle with pepper, serve immediately.

One 800g butternut squash, 200g mushrooms, 1 large red onion, 100g stilton, 15g thyme, garlic.
Pre-heat oven to 200°C. Cut squashes in half, deseed and make 4 cuts halfway down in the fleshy part. Drizzle with oil, season and place in oven skin side down for at least 50 mins. Chop mushrooms, onion, thyme garlic. Saute onions and mushrooms in a tsp of butter and plenty of olive oil, cook slowly for 8-10 mins until soft. Add garlic and thyme, cook for a min. When squash is ready, scoop out 6 tsp flesh from each squash and add to the stuffing, also the crumbled Stilton. Put stuffing into squashes. Put in oven for 15 mins until brown on top. Or cook for 10 mins and finish on the grill.

For more March recipes see former years. 

Next month: pre-, pro-, syn- and antibiotics.

[5]  Fosamax works by destroying osteoclasts, the cells that remove old bone so your osteoblasts can build new bone in its place. Since old bone is not removed, the result is denser but not stronger bones. See also and
[8]  Essential fatty acids enhance calcium absorption, reduce excretion and increase calcium deposition in the bone.
[11] See and You can get vitamin K from egg yolk, organ meat, and fermented, hard and aged cheeses. Other fermented foods like sauerkraut and the Japanese condiments miso and natto are particularly beneficial.
[14] Onions and blackstrap molasses are excellent foods to help prevent osteoporosis. They also can improve matters once you have it. Onion increases bone density. Blackstrap has an ideal calcium-magnesium ratio: we need lots of magnesium to help absorb similarly large quantities of calcium. Both of these minerals aid development of bones.
[17] Including, ironically, an increase in bone problems such as hip fractures and jaw necrosis.

March 2016: blood pressure


High blood pressure - what can I do about it, myself? Well here it is - surprise surprise:
- lose weight
- exercise: just walking is good
- don’t smoke
- reduce stress - every bit helps. For simple suggestions, see Blog Archive July 2014: ‘just relax ….’
- cut down on alcohol. Alcohol can also affect the effectiveness of your hypertension medication. 
- last but not least, eat well. Here is how you do that: 

  1. Boost potassium. Best to get it from food (bananas) rather than supplements. 
  2. Replace tablesalt with seasalt (see [1]) and don’t eat processed food: most sodium is added during processing.
  3. Avoid glucose-fructose, fructose-glucose (syrup), HFCS, isoglucose or maize syrup: this is all the same thing. Found icereal bars, biscuits, ice cream, yoghurt drinks, and that's just for starters. You could try and make these things yourself instead. See [2]
  4. Raw garlic: 1-2 cloves daily. Crush and have in honey, or with milk for the taste.
  5. Baked potato, beetroot (juice), spinach, kidney beans, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, milk, raw celery and rooibos tea are all good.
  6. Onion: mix 1/2 tsp of onion juice and the same of honey: have twice a day for two weeks. 
  7. A cup of warm water with the juice of half a lemon every morning on an empty stomach - ideally without sugar.
  8. Cayenne pepper - add just a little bit to your food.
  9. Honey: 2 tsp first thing in the morning. See also [3].
  10. Keep a food diary. Writing down what you eat, even for just a week, can shed surprising light on your true eating habits. Monitor what you eat, how much, when and why.

    And beware! 
    Pharmaceutical medications with decongestants, NSAIDs (non-steroid ant-inflammatory drugs), such as ibuprofen, steroids, birth control pills, and antidepressants, are all likely to raise your blood pressure.
    See also [4].

    Low blood pressure is far less common. Eat small frequent meals; increase natural sea salt intake; drink water with a bit of natural seasalt to taste; and (again) cut down on alcohol. These are just some of the approaches mentioned in the websites below. Here, too, medicines (diuretics, painkillers, anti-depressants and heart drugs) could be to blame. See [5]. 

    broad beans, early carrots, early Brussels, parsnips, maincrop peas, radish, spinach (or spinach beet, better value than proper spinach), chard, turnip, lettuce, early/summer cabbage, spring onions, early cauli, bulb onions, beet, celery (late March).
    Plant: potatoes, onion sets, shallots, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes.

    Veg: purple sprouting broccoli, kale, cavolo nero, squash, cauli, spring greens, radishes, rhubarb, leeks, carrots, spring onions, salad leaves, parsnips, cabbage, chicory, sorrel, swede, beet, brussels, rocket, turnips, celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes, watercress.
    Fish: dab, red gurnard, grey mullet, mussels, oysters, clams, mackerel, herring, megrim, scallops.
    Meat: rabbit, turkey, wood pigeon, beef, mutton, pork, venison.

    It’s a bit early for sowing yet. Too cold! However, there is plenty you can (should?) do right now: see


    a few good handfuls young nettletops, 2 tblsp of butter/oil, 2 tblsp flour, 1 chopped onion, 2 chopped garlic cloves, 240ml milk (whole milk is by far best!), 240ml water/stock, salt, pepper.
    Fry onion and garlic for a few mins, stir in nettles (no need to chop or remove stalks) until soft. Stir in flour, gradually add milk and water/stock, stirring all the time. Add seasonings, liquidise.
    For the health benefits of nettles, see

    100g kale (or cabbage, or spinach), 200g purple sprouting broccoli, 150g mushrooms, 2 cloves garlic, oil, 3 tblsp tamari/soy sauce, 1 tsp miso paste (optional), 1 tblsp sesame seeds.
    Slice the kale roughly and chop broccoli into chunks. Crush garlic. Chop the mushrooms roughly. Heat the oil, add garlic and mushrooms. Stir and cook for 5 mins, until the mushrooms are lightly browned and their juice has evaporated. Add broccoli and kale/cabbage (if using spinach, add that a bit later). Stir, cover for 5 mins. If you like your brassicas well done, add a tiny bit of water and let it cook for up to 10 mins with the lid on. Remove from the heat. Mix sesame seeds with the tamari/soy and miso, if using. Add, mix. Serve immediately.
    With pasta or any grain.

    Spring greens: “Shred them shoelace-thin and add to soups or stir-fry” says the Guardian [6].
    Or try this:
    400g trimmed spring greens, 4 tbsp crème fraîche, sea salt, pepper,
    Boil salted water, add greens chopped into narrow ribbons. Cook briefly till they’re done to your liking, drain well. Stir in the crème fraîche and reheat gently.

    900g leg of lamb or mutton – boned and trimmed; 575ml brown ale, 2 finely sliced onions, 3/4 tsp salt, 25g butter, black pepper, bread slices cut into large cubes.
    Cut meat into thin slices across the grain. Place in a heavy pan with beer and onions. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer very gently. After an hour add salt, pepper and butter. Simmer for a further 20-30 more minutes or until tender.

    About: 200g quartered potatoes, 80g chopped parsnips, 80g chopped swede, 4 tblsp cream cheese, small onion, 1/4 tblsp salt, 3 tblsp butter, pepper. 
    Put potatoes, parsnips, swede, onion in boiling salted water. Simmer until tender. Drain, season, add cream cheese, butter, and pepper. Mash. Excellent with broccoli or kale. 

    Sauté a spring (or other) cabbage with lots of cooked, halved chestnuts until it is done to your liking. You might want to add a tiny bit of water later on. Lovely and simple. 

    Cook in milk, drain and puree. Mix with crushed garlic, ground almonds, olive oil and lemon juice.
    Surprisingly nice with beef. 

    600-800g coley - or pollack, whiting, flounder, pouting - as long as it’s firm and white. 2 onions, 4 garlic cloves, tin of tomatoes, ground coriander, ½ tsp mustard seeds, 1½ tsp ground cumin, chilli powder to taste, lemon juice, coriander leaves, 1 tsp salt, oil.
    Cut fish into 4cm cubes. Heat oil, fry mustard seeds until they pop. Add sliced onions, cook until golden, add crushed garlic at the last minute: it burns easily. Quarter the tomatoes and add, cook for a few minutes till it’s like a paste. Add chilli, ground coriander and cumin. You may want to add a bit of hot water at this point: don’t add too much. Put in the fish and cook until done. 
    Serve with lemon and chopped coriander leaves. 

    Next month: DIABETES type 2.


    March 2015: nine cheap, local and seasonal foods


    March: first of the Hungry Gap months. Nowadays most of us deal with that by buying foreign or greenhoused fare. However, there is enough to be had locally, from the garden, the farmers’ (or even super-) market fresh or stored, to keep you nicely filled. [1]
    Did you know that many storeable foods get sweeter over time? Swedes, parsnips, potatoes, apples, squash - personally I don’t like them so much in the autumn, when they are still young. They do improve with maturity. A little bit like people, sometimes?





    PARSNIPS [4]




    RADISH - pink and, still going, black [8]

    As you can see below, there are still plenty of other winter veg which are still perfectly edible, as long as they have been kept cool throughout. Beware of leeks though, which still look good but are  starting to bolt later this month: there is a subtle change in taste which makes me, for one, dislike them.  

    If you want your food this month to be not just cheap but completely free, have a look at dandelions, nettles and seakale (right) are just a few of the wild things you can find if you know where to look. In your garden for instance!
    See their 'hedgerow food guide' and 'wild food recipes'. 

    To grow something interesting which you can eat next March, try sowing salsify or scorzonera in April. And my stalwart, black radish, keeps me going throughout the winter till the first little red ones are ready. Sow these in August.
    To have fresh greens now, when you really want them, sow corn salad and American land cress (sharp) the end of August or September. 


    broad beans, early carrots, early Brussels, parsnips, maincrop peas, radish, spinach (or spinach beet, better value than proper spinach), chard, turnip, lettuce, early/summer cabbage, spring onions, early cauli, bulb onions, beet, celery (late March).
    Plant: potatoes, onion sets, shallots, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes.

    Veg: purple sprouting broccoli, kale, cavolo nero, squash, cauli, spring greens, radishes, rhubarb, leeks, carrots, spring onions, salad leaves, parsnips, cabbage, chicory, sorrel, swede, beet, brussels, rocket, turnips, celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes, watercress.
    Fish: dab, red gurnard, grey mullet, mussels, oysters, clams, mackerel, herring, megrim, scallops.
    Meat: rabbit, turkey, wood pigeon, beef, mutton, pork, venison.


    200g (purple sprouting) broccoli, onion, 4 eggs, seasoning.
    For the sauce: 1 tblsp butter, 2 tblsp flour, tomato puree, 250ml stock/water, seaoning.
    To make the sauce: melt butter, add flour, stir. Very slowly add the liquid while stirring all the time. Add as much tomato puree as you like, season, cook through.  
    Cook broccoli in a little salted water for 7 mins. Chop onion, sauté for a minute while stirring, add drained broccoli and sauté 2 more minutes, still stirring. Beat eggs with a fork, season, pour on top of veg, stir for 1/2 a minute and leave to solidify. Turn upside down for just a few secs, serve with sauce. You can use cheese sauce instead, if you like. 

    Half a carrier of stinging nettle tops or fresh-looking larger leaves; 50g butter, 1 large finely chopped onion, 1l water/stock, 1 large cubed potato, 1 large chopped carrot, sea salt, pepper, 2 tbsp crème fraîche, few drops of olive oil and tabasco. And maybe some ginger if you like it. 
    Sort through the nettles, discarding thick stalks. Wash and drain. Melt butter, add onion and cook gently until softened.  Add stock, potato and carrot. Bring to a simmer, add nettles and cook until the potato is soft. Puree, season. Ladle into warmed bowls and float a tsp of creme fraiche on top. 

    450g celeriac weighed after cleaning; 1 cooking and 1 eating apple; finely chopped shallots or diced onion, 250ml dry cider, herbs (bay, sage, rosemary, thyme), salt, pepper, butter or 1 tblsp crème fraiche or cream. 
    Cut celeriac and apple in bite-size pieces. Fry shallots/onion in butter for a couple of minutes, add celeriac. After some 10 mins add cider and herbs, cook till the celeriac is nearly soft. Add the apple pieces and cook some more. It's ready when the celeriac is soft and the apples still hold a bit of shape. Cook without lid if it is still too liquid. Season and add more butter or a spoonful of crème fraiche/cream. Nice with couscous and cheese grated on top, or smoked fish, pork or chicken. 

    APPLE-ROASTED CHICKEN for 6: gluten-free.
    1 chicken cut into pieces, 120ml apple cider, 3 cooking apples, rosemary, sage, 1½ tsp sea salt, ¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper.
    Cut up apples and cook in the cider till soft. Preheat oven to 190°C. Arrange chicken pieces on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with the salt, pepper, rosemary and sage. Place in the oven and roast for 15 mins. Baste the chicken with cider mix, roast for another 15 mins. Baste again with the cooking juices and roast for 15 more mins. Let rest for 5 mins before serving.
    Very good with oven-roasted squash and onions.

    400g pumpkin, 500g (purple-sprouting) broccoli, bacon, butter, coriander seeds. 
    Dry-roast coriander, grind. Cook pumpkin and broccoli in a little water for 7 mins, drain. Heat butter, add bacon and fry slowly for a few mins, then add veg and ground coriander. Fry till done, season. 

    Cabbage, swede, onion, cooking apple, cumin (if you like), butter. 
    Chop everything. Put swede in cold water, not too much; bring to boil, cook till not quite done. Add cabbage. Meanwhile, saute onion and apple. When swede and cabage are just about cooked, add them to the onion/apple pan, along with the cumin. Stir till everything is done. 
    Nice with a pasty for a simple meal.

    250ml coarsely grated pumpkin, 1 chopped onion, 1tbsp soy, (1tbsp apple juice), 120ml water/stock, pepper, (salt).
    Put everything together in a pan. Bring to the boil, cover, reduce heat. Simmer for 10-12 mins, season.

    (You can use other firm white fish like grey mullet, pollack, snapper, grouper, coley)
    4x150g fillets of fish, 4 cooking apples - cored and cut into thin wedges, 115g butter, 90g honey, 40g flour, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp black pepper, 500ml dried bread crumbs, 1 beaten egg.
    Melt half the butter, fry apples until tender. Stir in the honey, reduce heat, and keep warm. Mix flour, salt, and pepper in bowl. Place bread crumbs in another shallow bowl, and egg in another. Melt rest of butter. Dip the fish in flour, egg, and bread crumbs. Place in the hot pan, and cook for 3-4 mins each side. The fillets should be brown and flake easily. Place on a serving dish, and spoon apples over the top.


    [8] For black radish recipes, see
    Black radish is great for your health: see
    Personally I peel them as otherwise I find them too sharp.
    Always keep black radish (cool) in paper bags, not in plastic or in the fridge. 
    [9] For the health benefits of nettles, see