All about Vitamin A: the wrinkle eliminator!

Vitamin A is a very important fat-soluble vitamin. This article teaches you the role of Vitamin A, and the deficiency and toxicity symptoms. Learn what foods to eat to obtain the correct amount of this important vitamin. After all- food is medicine! So let your food work for you and keep you well, heal your infections… and possibly get rid of a few of those wrinkles too!

Roles of Vitamin A in the body

  • Necessary for maintaining the health of the respiratory system
  • Needed for healing skin
  • Boosts/ strengthens the immune system
  • Heals inflamed mucus membranes
  • Promotes vision
  • The body cannot use protein without vitamin A.  
  • Support growth and reproduction (needed for sperm development, normal foetal development and childhood growth).
  • A powerful antioxidant
  • Needed for protein synthesis and cell differentiation- (see further down for further explanation).
  • Lastly, Vitamin A slows the aging process. It is a well-known wrinkle eliminator!

Vitamin A is an antioxidant

It helps protect against developing cancer, heart disease, stroke, and other diseases. It also lowers cholesterol levels. People receiving radiotherapy for cancers have greatly benefited from taking Vitamin A in high doses to heal ulcers caused by the radiation.

Protein synthesis and cell differentiation

Protein synthesis and cell differentiation enables the maintenance of the health of all epithelial tissues including the skin. Goblet cells are also differentiated, and these glands synthesis and secrete mucous. Mucous protects epithelial cells from microorganisms invading! It stops you getting sick! It stops infections of the kidneys, bladder, lungs, gastrointestinal system, vagina, inner ear and mucous membranes.  

Vitamin A Deficiency

Blindness

Night blindness is the first detectable sign of vitamin A deficiency.  A slow recovery of vision after seeing a flash of bright light is common in deficiency. Total blindness also occurs. Eye inflammation is common.

Increased infections

A deficiency of Vitamin A also leads to an increase in susceptibility of infections of the respiratory tract, GI tract, urinary tract, the vagina and also the inner ear.

Sadly, measles kills approximately 2 million children each year in developing countries. Interestingly, the severity of the illness correlates with the amount of vitamin A deficiency the child has. Deaths from measles is often due to related infections. Providing these children large doses of Vitamin A reduces their risk of dying from related infections.  Giving Vitamin A also protects again malaria, lung disease, and HIV to name a few.

Skin and hair symptoms

Another common symptom of Vitamin A deficiency is rough, dry, prematurely aged and wrinkled skin, skin diseases in general, dry hair, dandruff all occur.

Dryness of mucous membranes

It also causes a decrease in mucous production via goblet cells (discussed earlier). This occurs in the mouth, respiratory, reproductive, and gastrointestinal systems. The latter causes impaired digestion, which leads to less nutrient absorption. And this can lead to other deficiencies.

Other symptoms

Lastly, other symptoms such as a loss of sense of smell and allergies can occur.

Toxicity symptoms

Conversely, toxicity is much less common than deficiency. It is unlikely to occur if your only source of Vitamin A is from your diet. However, taking supplements can cause toxicity if care is not taken. 

Excessive amounts can cause:

  • Weak bones, contributing to osteoporosis
  • Joint pain
  • Teratogenic risk (birth defects)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Amenorrhea
  • Enlarged liver and/or spleen; elevated liver enzymes
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Hair loss
  • Itching
  • Nausea and vomiting

Food sources of Vitamin A

Beta Carotene is found in plants and is the precursor to Vitamin A. Retinoids are derived from animal products and are then converted into Vitamin A in the gut. Beta carotene absorption and conversion into Vitamin A is significantly less efficient than the retinoids from animal products.

Richest sources are from animal products:

  • Beef or lamb liver
  • Oily fish
  • Fish liver oils
  • Full fat milk, cheese, butter. It is lost in skim milk.
  • Eggs

Liver- liver is a rich source because Vitamin A is stored there in animals and people alike. However, toxins are also stored in the liver, so it is wise to only consume it rarely, and always from organic sources.

Vegetables

  • Dark leafy greens: spinach, spirulina, kale, parsley, turnip greens, beet greens, dandelion greens
  • Deep orange veggies: carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin.
  • Asparagus and broccoli

Amounts/ dosages

Adults need between 4,000-5,000iu daily. People with chronic or acute diseases need more, as do those who are pregnant or lactating. Though, as mentioned, it is VERY important not to take too much whilst pregnant as birth defects can result. More is also required in winter, and if the person reads or does focussed work excessively.

Vitamin A supplements are often necessary when acute infections are present

A heaped tablespoon of spirulina provides 25,000iu of Vitamin A.  An 100g serve of kale provides 8,300iu. A 100g portion of carrots provides 28,000iu. You can get this from your diet people!! However, in samples tested from different growing locations, some carrots provided as little as 100iu. Organic carrots will provide many more nutrients, and much less toxins, across the board, not just for Vitamin A.

In some people, such as people with diabetes or hypothyroidism, beta carotenes do not covert well into vitamin A in the body. These people require their sources (retinol) from animal products, not plants.

Synergism

Lastly, Vitamin A and Zinc have a strong synergistic relationship. They both enhance each others effect greatly when together. Both nutrients are required for immune system functioning, skin function, mucous membranes, bones, growth and development, and vision to name a few overlaps. Both Zinc and Vitamin A can lower the sodium levels on a Hair Tissue Minerals Analysis– the reflection of the mineral and heavy metal levels in the body tissues (as opposed to the serum blood).

This very important vitamin is easily obtained in your diet. You’ve learnt more strong reasons for you to eat LOTS of vegetables of different colours, and enjoy full fat dairy in your diet. ‘

Unwell with a cold or flu? Book in to see Sari for a personalised treatment plan today.

References:

Rolfes et al (2006) Understanding normal and clinical nutrition. 7th Edition. USA

Pitchford, Paul (1993) Healing with whole foods: oriental traditions and modern nutrition. USA

Lentil Burgers

Ingredients:

1 cup red split lentils (or green or brown- however you need to adjust cooking time accordingly)

1 tbsp macadamia oil

2 onions, sliced

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp garam masala

425g can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or borlotti beans)

1 egg

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

2 tsp chopped fresh coriander

1 ¼ cups organic brown rice flour (or stale gluten free bread crumbs)

Brown rice flour for dusting, if desired.

Garlic coriander cream:

½ cup plain yoghurt

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tbsp fresh chopped coriander

2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley

Method:

Add the lentils to a large saucepan of boiling water and simmer for 8 minutes, or until tender. Drain well.

Next heat oil in pan and cook onion for 3 minutes, or until soft. Add the ground spices and stir until fragrant.

Place chickpeas, egg, onion mixture, and half the lentils in a food processor. Whiz for 20 seconds or until smooth. Transfer to a bowl.

Then stir in remaining lentils parsley, coriander and flour/ breadcrumbs. Mix well.

Next, divide it into 10 portions (or whatever suits your family).

Shape portions into patties. Toss patties in flour if desired.

Next place patties in a hot, lightly greased frying pan and cook on each side for 3-4 minutes or until browned.

Lastly, to make the Coriander garlic cream, mix together all the ingredients.

I like to make a big batch, and freeze half for another meal. Serve with loads of steamed vegetables.

For a printable version go here.

Lamb racks recipe

Not only is it delicious, but it also contains high quality fats in the lamb itself, plus a great dose of garlic for your cardiovascular and immune system health. Numerous vitamins and minerals are hiding in the meat and the herbs. Try growing your own herbs and delight in the fresh superior flavours that results.

Ingredients

  • 2 lamb racks
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1/2c oil – (grapeseed, sesame or avocado oils have high smoke points)
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp dry, or 3 tbsp fresh rosemary
  • 1/4-1/2 2tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • Sea salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven at 230C
  2. Next, put garlic, oil, parsley, rosemary, chilli flakes into food processor. Use the processor until mixture is finely chopped.
  3. Season the lamb with salt and pepper.
  4. Rub each rack of lamb with the marinade. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes at room temperature. You can leave it longer for even better flavours. Marinating it overnight is best if you’re organised enough!
  5. Next, place the lamb in oven dish with the fat side pointing up. Put it in the top of the oven.
  6. Then cook for 15 minutes.
  7. Turn the lamb racks over and cook for a further 5- 10 minutes, depending on how rare you want it.
  8. Now allow the lamb to rest for 10 minutes. Using foil to cover the lamb racks as they rest is a waste of resources, bad for the environment, and unnecessary for flavour development.
  9. Lastly, cut the lamb racks into chops and serve with a huge helping of vegetables.

For a printable version go here.

Enjoy this delicious, fast to cook recipe during weeknights. Serve with lots of cooked vegetables to have a meal with high nutritional value. Vegetables that pair well with lamb include broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, peas, asparagus, and carrots. Enjoy!

EFT Emotional Freedom Technique: the evidence for practice

Do you suffer from anxiety? Depression? PTSD? Pain? Cravings? Chronic disease? EFT will help!

EFT: the evidence for practice

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) has been around since the 1990s. However, acupressure dates back thousands of years. Over 100 studies have demonstrated the efficacy of EFT as an evidence-based self help therapeutic method. This article gives a brief overview of the literature illustrating this effectiveness.

The function of body systems improve

The physiological effects of EFT were studied by Bach et al (2019 Clinical EFT improves multiple physiological markers of health. Journal of Evidence Based Integrative Medicine). The researchers measured the nervous system (using the Heart Rate Variability (HRV); and Heart Coherence (HC)); circulatory system (using the Resting Heart Rate and Blood Pressure); the endocrine system (measuring the cortisol levels) and the immune system (measuring the Salivary Immunoglobin A (SigA)). They also measured psychological symptoms.

Significant improvements in symptoms

They also found significant declines in anxiety (40% decline), depression (35% decline), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (32% decline), pain (57% decline) and cravings (74% decline). Read that sentence again and take it in. There were HUGE improvements in all those areas! In addition to all those very positive changes in all those lives, their levels of happiness and SigA increased too, indicating improvements in their immune systems!  Significant improvements were found in HRV, cortisol and BP (systolic and diastolic). Positive trends were also found in the HRV and HC. Of great importance, they found that the positive health effects for physical and mental wellbeing were maintained on follow-up! So the circulatory system, nervous system, endocrine system and immune system showed significant improvements! You would like that, wouldn’t you?? Imagine if a medication had that effect… With no side effects… And was free!

Cortisol, the stress hormone is reduced

In addition, Church, Yount and Brooks (2012 The effects of EFT on stress biochemistry: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Nerv Ment. 200:891-896) also found significant declines in the stress hormone, cortisol in their study.

Many different people benefit

Not only does EFT improve physical and mental wellbeing as shown in the above mentioned studies, but it also helps a variety of people. Systematic reviews and meta-analysis have shown EFT efficacy for both psychological and physiological symptoms. The efficacy of EFT extends to college students, veterans, pain patients, overweight people, hospital patients, athletes, health care workers, gifted students, chemotherapy patients and phobia sufferers. And they are just the groups that have been studied! It is an “evidence based” practice for depression, anxiety, phobia and PTSD according to the standards of the American Psychological Association Division 12 Task Force of Empirically Validated Treatments (Church D. Clinical EFT as an evidence-based practice for the treatment of psychological and physiological conditions. Psychology. 2013).

What is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)?

EFT is a quick intervention which includes cognitive therapy, elements of exposure and somatic stimulation of acupressure points on the face and body. The subjects identify an area of concern or issue they want to address. They then rate it on a Likert Scale 0-10. 10 is the maximum amount of distress and 0 is the minimal or neutral state.  The person then states their concern or issue in a “Set Up Statement”. This tunes them into their level of distress. The Set Up Statement may be “even though I have this problem (eg anxious), I deeply and completely accept myself”. The first part is the exposure. The second part is framing the traumatizing element into self-acceptance.

Then the person taps on the acupoints on the body whilst repeating a short phrase to stay engaged (eg feeling anxious). This is the Reminder Phrase. Eight somatic tapping points are utilized in order. This is repeated until their self-rating on the Likert Scale is very low at 1 or 0.

EFT is easy to learn

Anxiety

A study of 5000 patients seeking treatment for anxiety over 5.5 years was conducted by Andrade and Feinstein (2004 Energy Psychology: theory, indications and evidence. Energy Psychology Interactive: Rapid Interventions for lasting change. 199-214). Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is the traditional anxiety treatment used today. The patients in this large study received CBT with medication if needed, or acupoint tapping with no medication. A whopping 90% of patients improved in the EFT group versus 63% of the CBT patients.

Three EFT sessions were needed before their anxiety decreased while an average of fifteen sessions of CBT were required. An amazing 76% of people in the EFT group obtained compete relief of their symptoms compared with 51% in the CBT group. Importantly, 78% of the EFT group maintained these improvements one year later, compared to 69% of the CBT group.

In another study, health care workers with anxiety, depression, pain and cravings were researched. They self-applied EFT and were found to have significant improvements on all subscales of distress, pain ratings, emotional distress, and cravings after a two hour EFT session. The severity and range of psychological symptoms were reduced with this maintained at later follow up (Church and Brookes 2010 The effect of a brief EFT self-intervention on anxiety, depression, pain and cravings in health care workers. Integrative Medicine Clinical Journal 9(5):40-44).

Depression

Many studies have shown the benefits of EFT for depression also.  After a brief EFT intervention for depression in college students those who had the EFT had significantly less depression than those who did not have EFT. The control group had the same level of depression before and after no treatment (Church De Asis, Brooks 2012 Brief group intervention using EFT for depression in college students.: a randomized controlled trial. Depress Red Treat).

CBT or EFT was conducted on ten patients with Major Depressive Disorder. Eight weeks (sixteen hours total) of group treatments for either EFT or CBT were conducted and both groups experienced significant reductions in their depressive symptoms. However, the CBT group improvements were not maintained over time. The significant improvements in symptoms from the EFT group participants was maintained at three and six month follow-ups (Chatwin, Stapleton, Porter, Devine, Sheldon 2016 The effectiveness of CBT and EFT in reducing depression and anxiety among adults: a pilot study. Integrative Medicine (Encinitas) 15(2):27-34).

Chronic diseases

Furthermore, there have been numerous studies showing that a variety of chronic disease patients may benefit also considering the physiological changes that occur from EFT. Physical conditions which have been studied and found to have benefited from EFT include fibromyalgia, psoriasis, tension headaches, frozen shoulder, pulmonary injuries, chronic pain, chemotherapy side effects, traumatic brain injury, insomnia and seizure disorders (Bach et al Clinical EFT improves multiple physiological markers of health. Journal of Evidence based integrative medicine. 2019.24).

In conclusion, there is an abundance of research illustrating the effectiveness of using EFT in a variety of settings for a variety of both psychological and psychological benefits. And it is easy to learn and to do yourself, and therefore very cost effective.

After reading this short article please consider learning EFT yourself and begin to reap the benefits.

EFT can be done by yourself at home or anywhere!

Sardine Patties recipe

Sardines are amazingly good for you. They contain heaps of omega 3s (healthy fats), calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, selenium, iron, B12, magnesium, potassium, zinc and protein. They contain no carbohydrates or sugars.

All sea foods contain toxic metals from our polluted oceans. However, as sardines are such a small fish, they do not eat other fish and accumulate their mercury. They eat large quantities of phytoplankton (microscopic plants), and therefore have very low levels of mercury. It is absolutely worth adding in sardines to your regular diet, three to four times per week depending on your body size.

Sari’s Sardine Patties

1tbsp butter

1 onion, chopped

2 sweet potatoes, boiled and mashed

2 cans (110g each) of sardines, drained and mashed with fork

2 spring onions, chopped (optional)

2 cloves crushed garlic

3/4 cup brown rice flour

  • Heat butter in frying pan and cook onion until soft. Cool slightly.
  • Combine onion, mashed sweet potato, mashed sardines, garlic, spring onions and flour.
  • When mixture is cold, divide into patties.
  • Cover patties and place in fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Heat butter in frying pan and cook patties until golden.

Serve with yoghurt if desired.

For a printable PDF version: Sari’s Sardine Pattie recipe