Posts filed under ‘Nutrition’

Five Ways To Protect Your Immune System

By Sarah Rudston, clinic assistant

It’s February, and temperatures have dropped across the country (you might even have seen some snow recently!). Colds, coughs, and other illnesses are unfortunately rife at this time of year, so we’re looking at some of the ways you can help protect your immune system and keep yourself healthy until warmer weather is upon us again.

Change Your Diet

Our immune systems function on our diet, and, if we don’t pay attention to what we eat, we could find ourselves in bad health in no time. A diet which is high in fat, sugars, caffeine and salt can damage your immune system’s ability to keep you healthy. By eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, you can bolster your defences and keep yourself feeling well.

Don’t Smoke!

We all know that cigarettes are bad for us, however smokers may not know what effect each puff is having on their immune systems. Tobacco smoke can cause you to be more prone to infections such as pneumonia and influenza. It can also cause you to have illnesses which are more severe, and it’ll take you longer to get over them. There’ll also be lower levels of protective antioxidants in your blood as a result of smoking, such as Vitamin C. If you’re sticking to your new year’s resolution to quit, congratulations! If you need a little extra help, check out our stop smoking detox programme.

Exercise Regularly

It’s been proven time and time again that exercise can have a hugely positive effect on your body, as well as its natural defences against disease. Regular exercise can improve cardiovascular health, reduce blood pressure and promote good circulation, all of which does wonders for your immune system. However, too much exercise can put strain on your body, and it’s important not to overdo it!

Get Adequate Sleep

In this day and age, it can be tempting to skip on sleep in order to check emails or pull all-nighters on an important piece of work. However, nothing is more important than your health, and if you’re getting insufficient sleep on a regular basis, you’ll be more likely to damage your health. Lack of sleep can compromise our body’s ability to fight off infections, so make sure you get your eight hours every night.

Take Time Out

Studies have shown that an increase in stress levels can go hand in hand with an increase of disease and infections. It’s no coincidence that we feel rundown when we’ve got a lot on our plates – feeling stressed out can lower the body’s defence to illness and make us less likely to fight off coughs and colds. It might not seem that easy to cut down on our workloads, however simple stress-relieving activities such as walking, swimming or meditating can really help. Have a look at our six-week meditation course and see how you can add a little extra relaxation to your life.

Take care of yourself and before you know it, we’ll have lighter evenings and warmer weather! All the best from us at The Natural Health Clinic, Bristol.


February 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm Leave a comment

Spring Clean Your Body The Fast Way and Feel Great for 2012!

 By Sally Beare, dip BCNH, CNHC

It’s that time of year, when we may have overindulged a little during the festive period, it’s cold and rainy so we’ve been stuck indoors, and many of us are feeling a little bit… lacklustre.

One quick and effective way of getting the shine back is to have a spring clean. I don’t mean the backs of the kitchen drawers and behind the sofa – I mean an internal spring clean. Our bodies, just like our houses, gather detritus which stops us from functioning at our best and can lead to illness.

Fasting is a natural process which animals undertake when they are sick. Children, too, will often avoid food when they are ill. Many of us adults are sick, in a low-level way, because we have had many years or decades in which to accumulate minor problems around the body, thanks to our less-than-perfect diets and lifestyles. Fasting and juice cleansing can be incredibly effective ways to enable the body to heal itself of illness and slow down the aging process.

When we eat food, it takes up a large proportion of our energy to digest it (notice how sleepy you feel after a huge meal). When we stop eating for a period, that energy is freed up and resources are diverted to healing areas of the body which need it. Old diseased cells are gobbled up by macrophages and fat cells are burned as fuel. Toxic matter is disposed of, and our cells, tissues and organs have new life breathed into them.

When juice cleansing, you will feel hungry for the first day or two, but after that your body adjusts to the new conditions and stops wanting food. You may find reading recipe books or cooking meals for the rest of the family particularly interesting, and you may fantasise about certain foods, but you should surprise yourself by not wanting to actually eat. It is only after you start eating solid food again that the desire to eat returns.

When doing a cleanse, you may feel tired and headachy for the first two days but after that you will start to feel better and better each day. By the end of the cleanse, you will be amazed by how much energy you have despite not eating.

During the next few months we will be running two types of cleanse at the clinic – a five-day colon cleanse and a three-day juice cleanse. Note that neither of these methods is strictly a fast, in which only water is drunk; a cleanse is a gentler method and, whilst you may wish to choose a quiet week in which to do your cleanse, you should also be able to continue with your normal daily routine. We are offering the following two types of cleanse at The Natural Health Clinic, Bristol, to choose from:

The Colon Cleanse

For this cleanse, you will drink a specialised formulation of apple pectin, psyllium husk and bentonite clay mixed with apple juice every four hours for five days. This gentle but strong formulation bulks out inside the colon and attaches to and removes old rubbery mucoid plaque and other old toxic detritus – you’ll be amazed by what comes out. A formulation of herbal digestive enzymes is also taken during this cleanse so as to make sure things ‘keep moving’.

During the cleanse, I will provide daily email and telephone support. There will also be a group meeting available during the cleanse for those who wish to share their experiences and egg each other on!

An optional lymphatic drainage massage to give your immune system a boost is also available at the end of this cleanse.

The Juice Cleanse (with massage)

The juice cleanse is a three-day cleanse during which you will drink fruit and vegetable juices and broths approximately every three hours during the day with a two-day lead-up to the cleanse in which you prepare the body with careful food choices. This cleanse should help your body start to shed toxins, give your digestive organs a well-earned rest, support your liver, and give your system a chance to rejuvenate.

During the cleanse, I will provide daily email and telephone support. We will also provide you with juice, smoothie and broth recipes to use at home and recommend particular juices from Blue Juice (situated beneath the clinic).

The package includes a lymphatic drainage massage at the end of the cleanse.

All packages include a Q and A session with me about which type of cleanse might be best suited to your needs, how to prepare for the cleanse, and what to expect. Please call the clinic on 0117 9741199 to book.

Please note: If you are suffering from a serious illness, always consult your GP before booking a juice cleanse.

January 9, 2012 at 1:47 pm Leave a comment

How to Detox the Natural Way After Christmas

Season's Greetings!


It’s post-Christmas: the food has been devoured, the presents opened, and that bottle you were saving for New Years has somehow disappeared! It can be easy to feel a little fragile after the festive season, so it’s a good idea to know some simple ways to help your body recover.

Luckily, our bodies have natural detox systems to help them recover after we’ve overindulged. The digestive system, the skin, and the liver all work in different ways to help detox your body from chemicals such as food toxins, alcohol, cigarette smoke and household chemicals. There are several ways to help these processes along, detailed below:

Be Kind To Your Liver

We all enjoy a drink at Christmas, but overdoing it can cause harm to our livers, which are constantly working hard to protect us. Lemon juice is rich in limonene which encourages detoxification (try it in some hot water with honey). Milk thistle is also good for protecting the liver, as well as bitter vegetables such as fennel and artichoke. These contain enzymes which stimulate the cleansing process, making it easier for your liver to deal with the harmful substances.

Keep it Balanced

Detoxing need not mean cutting out certain food groups altogether. Interestingly, dairy products can help many people to lose weight when eaten alongside plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. The protein in dairy can also promote feelings of ‘fullness’ for longer, making it easier to cut down on snacks. So you won’t have to cut out dairy just because you’ve overdone it on the chocolate this Christmas!

Defend Yourself!

Digestive troubles such as stomach ache can be dealt with easily with root ginger or peppermint. Peppermint is proven to help with gut complaints, and root ginger helps your body build a natural defence against illness. Either of these can be combined with food or made into hot drinks, for an easy way to add a little more natural health to your diet.

Come and check out our Detox programme at The Natural Health Clinic, Bristol, for a helping hand! We all wish you a happy, healthy new year.

December 28, 2011 at 10:29 am

Nutritional therapists: quacks or healers?

Some food for thought by nutritional therapist Sally Beare, dip BCNH

Does nutritional therapy work?  According to our detractors, it’s a load of old hogwash (organic, with fresh flax seeds and goji berries mixed in, of course).  My own quick answer to the question is: take 100 or more pairs of twins, and feed one of each pair on nothing but crisps, lollipops and bacon sandwiches for 60 years (if they live that long) and the other on a balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables, healthy proteins, the right carbs, and a good dose of superfoods.  Keep the first on the sofa in front of the TV and get the second out for a brisk walk each day.  If the bookies were taking bets on which group would live healthier, happier, longer lives, I know which I’d put my money on.

The logic behind nutritional therapy is merely an extension of this. Even the biggest skeptics can’t deny that if one food or nutrient is good for you and another is bad, it stands to reason that you can apply this principle to ALL nutrients.  Broccoli: good.  Sugar: bad.  We all know that.  It gets more difficult, though.  Yoghurt – good or bad?  That depends on the type of yoghurt, and the individual biochemistry of the person standing in front of the yoghurt shelf in the supermarket.  An organic spelt bun?  A pint of grapefruit juice?  A glass of red wine? Lamb chops? Whether or not these will harm you or help you depends on several factors and it is the job of the nutritional therapist to find out which.

That may sound like splitting hairs to some, but the impact on a person of what they eat can be so profound and life-changing that it inspires us nutritional therapists to keep going in the face of criticism from the anti-nutrition brigade.  Go ahead, throw your eggs and tomatoes at us – we’ll turn them into a lycopene-rich omelette with all the essential amino acids, so there.  It isn’t just about worshipping at the temple of our bodies but about preventing serious illness, enhancing quality of life, boosting our mental state, being there for longer for our families, and reducing the burden on the NHS – bearing in mind that even the medical profession acknowledges that the vast majority of illnesses are diet-related.

Medical science can be lifesaving and invaluable – I’m thinking back to that wonderful surgeon who pushed my daughter’s nose back into shape after my son broke it with his head – but it also has its shortcomings.  Iatrogenic death, otherwise known as death by doctoring, kills an estimated 90,000 people in the UK annually, largely through adverse effects to pharmaceutical drugs, and let’s not even start on superbugs, vaccinations, and ‘the tests don’t show anything is wrong, maybe it’s all in your mind’.

Rather than throwing drugs at the problem, nutritional therapists seek to find the root cause of symptoms and use nutrients to enable a person to regain optimum health.  Digestive disorders, obesity issues, poor immunity, hormonal imbalances, fatigue, headaches, inflammatory conditions and other ‘vague’ conditions which are hard to label medically can all respond dramatically to nutritional therapy.

The biggest problem with nutritional therapy today is that the profession is not regulated by law.  Last year, a tragedy occurred when a woman visited a nutritional therapist and was put on a detox diet.  Somehow, it seems she ended up drinking too much water and allegedly ended up suffering from brain damage as a result of hyperhydration and excessively low salt levels.  It may be that the nutritional therapist in question had not been properly trained, because it should be basic knowledge to a nutritional therapist that drinking too much water at once can lead to loss of electrolytes with potential adverse consequences.

Lack of regulation means that anyone can call themselves a ‘nutritional therapist’ whether they have been rigorously trained and examined over several years at a good college, attended a single weekend course, or have simply decided one day to be a nutritional therapist and had a card printed up.  So how does a client know how to choose a properly-trained nutritional therapist?

If the therapist is a member of BANT (the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy), this means that they have a qualification from a recognized training establishment.  However, it does not mean that they themselves are individually regulated.  The best way to be sure that a nutritional therapist has an acceptable level of expertise is if they are accredited by the Nutritional Therapy Council (NTC), currently being taken over by the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC).  Only practitioners who have given evidence of their competence to practice and have trained with an establishment which matches the National Occupational Standards for nutritional therapy will have NTC/CNHC accreditation. Registration is voluntary, so there are likely to be some good practitioners who are not accredited, but this is currently the best way for clients to be sure of what they are getting.  The NTC and/or CNHC status of any practitioner can be checked on the NTC or CNHC websites.  There are currently 300 practitioners on the list, with more (including myself) currently undergoing registration; it is hoped that in future all practitioners will have been assessed in this way for the good of both nutritional therapy and the general public.

October 1, 2009 at 8:36 am

Can diet cure MS?

by Sally Beare, dip BCNH – Nutritional Therapist

When the well-known Hollywood writer and musician Roger MacDougall was diagnosed with MS in 1953, it seemed as though there was little hope for him. The orthodox view of MS is that it is debilitating at best and terminal at worst, and sure enough, within a few years MacDougall was unable to use his legs, eyes, or fingers and he could not stand upright.

Yet 30 years later, MacDougall’s eyesight was restored, he could run up and down stairs, and he led a fully active life until eventually dying in his 80s with no symptoms of MS.  This, he claimed, was entirely due to changing his diet. After making the changes, Macdougall’s condition stopped deteriorating and he began to make slow but steady progress back to good health.  In his own words, ‘instead of a wheelchair-confined cabbage I became a normal human being again.’  MS sufferers can go into periods of remission, but Macdougall’s neurologist had to admit that he had never witnessed such a spectacular and long-lasting one.

MacDougall began by removing foods from his diet which he felt his body was reacting badly to.  The simple tests we now have to identify food allergens were not available then, but the foods he removed were the two most common culprits – gluten and dairy products – and he also removed animal fats and sugar.  MS is an autoimmune disease, so removing potential
saboteurs of the immune system (such as wheat and dairy) makes perfect
sense.  Saturated fats and sugar are also harmful in a number of ways and
Macdougall found that it was necessary to remove them too.

Macdougall’s diet ended up resembling that of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, before modern man started to grow cereals, keep dairy cows and use sugar: it is the diet which drove evolution and to which our biochemistry is best suited.  It seems logical that what is good for our bodies generally might also be able to reverse specific ‘incurable’ diseases such as MS.  The hunter-gatherer diet, also known as the Paleolithic diet, is today gaining in popularity as a treatment for other modern degenerative conditions including heart disease and cancer.

The hunter-gatherer diet was high in essential fatty acids (EFAs), but the
modern diet is woefully lacking in these.  MS is characterized by destruction
of the myelin sheath surrounding nerve fibres in the brain and spinal chord,
and myelin requires EFAs for correct structure and functioning.  The myelin is destroyed by immune cells attacking it, seemingly in a case of mistaken
identity, and saturated fats interfere with EFA function.  Thus you can see
how EFA deficiency, saturated fats and a faulty immune system all fit together in the MS jigsaw and how logical the dietary solutions are.  There are other aspects of MS such as possible connections with viruses and lack of vitamin D, the ‘sunshine’ vitamin which is involved in autoimmunity – people in colder climates are at much greater risk.  These factors also have dietary and lifestyle solutions: viruses can be kept at bay by an immune system kept robust with the right diet, whilst vitamin D comes from sunlight and some dietary sources such as eggs.

After finding such success with his diet, Macdougall produced a booklet which he hoped would help other sufferers.  He found that the diet worked well for some but not for all and came to the conclusion that since no two individuals are exactly alike, the exact correct diet would also vary according to a person’s own particular food intolerances and metabolic processes.  Some people’s immune systems can tolerate cheese but not eggs; others can have barley but not corn.  Therefore, a logical first step for any MS sufferer wanting to change their diet would be to have a test for food allergens and intolerances.  A diet can then be tailored with the help of a nutritionist who has knowledge of the specific nutrients required for MS sufferers.

A useful companion for those wishing to embark on this journey is the Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book by the late Dr Roy Swank.  Swank devised his diet in 1948 after finding that there was a high incidence of MS in dairy-farming areas of Norway where high amounts of saturated fats were consumed, whereas the fishing communities on the coast had a very low incidence.  As one would expect, the diet is very similar to the Macdougall diet.

Over the following 5 decades Dr Swank treated over 5,000 MS patients with
remarkable success.  A study of his work which was published in the Lancet
showed that 95% of those who followed the diet did not deteriorate over the
decades, whereas those who did not follow the diet did.  Furthermore, those
who followed the diet had a reduced risk of heart disease and other illnesses.
Unfortunately a lack of double-blind testing has meant that the orthodox
medical community is dismissive of Swank’s work.  However, a look at the
reviews of his book on Amazon shows that a great many people with MS
have benefited hugely from the diet and astounded their neurologists with
their recoveries.  More information is available on the Swank MS Foundation website,

MS patients wanting to try a dietary cure must be just that – patient. They
must also be determined. It was more than four years after changing his diet
before Macdougall was able to do up a button on his shirt and he also knew
that he could not relax his dietary regime for a moment or he might suffer a
relapse.  However, quick fixes are not available.  There is no drug yet in
existence which can cure the disease – drugs can manage symptoms, but
there can be unpleasant side effects including increased cancer risk and

If you are an MS sufferer or if you know someone who has MS, there is every
reason to believe that a dietary solution can bring you hope.  Giving up the
foods which are all around us can be hard, and it is all too easy to give up if
change isn’t immediate.  But slow and steady wins the race, and who knows,
in the years and decades hence you could even find yourself in better health
than those around you.

Sally Beare works as a nutritional therapist at the Natural Health Clinic in
Bristol.  She is the author of the Anti-Ageing Book (Piatkus, UK, 2003) and
50 Secrets of the World’s Longest-Living People (Avalon, USA, 2006).

June 5, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Eat more to weigh less

by Sally Beare, dipBCNH – Nutritional Therapist

‘I’ll never be hungry again!’  Thus spoke Scarlett O’ Hara as, eyes flashing heavenward, she stood upon the ruined soil of her family’s Georgia plantation, clutching a root in her hand.

If only the same vow could be made by the millions of women in the western world who seem to be permanently either on a diet, about to start a diet, or on a binge between diets.  It’s ironic that with so many supermarkets, restaurants and delicatessens at our disposal, together bringing to us the cream of the entire world’s produce, we often eat so badly and subject ourselves to pointless starving and yo-yo dieting.  Of course, it’s not our fault.  If you put laboratory rats in the same conditions, they will not only be unable to resist the fattiest and most sugary foods but they will show even less willpower than us and just eat and eat until they burst.  Many of us humans seem to be at the stage where we eat and eat until we almost burst and then go on a starvation diet.  Ideally, however, we should be taking what is best for us and eating just what we need.  This, as has been shown time and again in studies on humans and animals, is exactly what we need to keep our bodies in peak condition (along with other lifestyle factors of course).

When I left university I was slightly overweight from my 3-year diet of beer, pasta and chocolate, so I decided to go on a diet.  This, I discovered, made me want food more (there’s nothing like being told you can’t have something to make you want it), so I ended up getting fatter.  Eventually, clutching a carrot in my hand, eyes turned heavenward, I gasped ‘I will never diet again!’ Since then, I have never dieted or had to suffer the trials of being permanently stuck in a diet-binge-diet cycle.  This may sound unbearably smug, but I mean it helpfully.  I enjoy my food and when I am hungry I eat, and although as a nutritional therapist I am probably labeled by some as a ‘crank who is obsessed with food’, I actually feel I have a hassle-free relationship with it so long as I have access to good healthy food, as we are so lucky to do here in the UK.

For those who wish to exit the yo-yo dieting cycle, eating healthily is a good way out of the trap.  You can then focus on what you CAN eat rather than what you can’t.  Avocado salads with olive oil dressings, buckwheat pancakes with bananas and raisins, fresh grilled fish with oven-roasted vegetables and herbs, crusty rye bread with goat’s cheese and roasted red peppers, miso soup with chicken and broccoli…where’s the deprivation in that?  Not only that, but when following a healthy eating plan you HAVE to eat breakfast, lunch, and supper, as well as snacks in between if hungry.  Keeping blood sugar levels even is absolutely key to good health, an upbeat mood, and an efficient metabolism.  Starving and bingeing, on the other hand, confuses the body’s insulin into storing everything away as fat rather than burning it for energy – so you not only put on weight but you also feel tired and ratty.  And THAT’s when you reach for the doughnut, and so it goes on in a downward vicious spiral.

When eating healthily most of the time as a long-term habit, there is room for little treats such as a glass of wine or a piece of birthday cake.  Deviating from a generally healthy diet does not mean that we then have to go on an orgy of ‘I may as well go the whole way now I’ve fallen off the wagon’ bingeing.  In fact not beating ourselves up about the wine and the birthday cake paradoxically tends to make us want it less, perhaps because we are out of the addictive love-hate relationship.  In any case, there are other ways to reward ourselves for a hard day with the children or at the office.  TLC does not have to be brown, triangular and chocolate-flavoured – it can take the form of a relaxing bath with aromatherapy oils, or a foot massage, for example.

In my clinical practice, I aim to find a way of eating which is enjoyable and workable for you.  This may mean breaking old habits and trying new foods and ways of cooking them, but that in itself can be a rewarding experience.  My ultimate aim is not to get you to fit into a favourite piece of clothing which has become too tight but, rather, to heal minor ailments, prevent major ones, and put you in control of your health and your eating.  Happily, these things all tend to go together, and it’s easier than you might think.

May 15, 2009 at 10:02 am

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