Nutrition A-Z

Don't miss.... more from Robin.

  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away. True or false?
  • Vitamin A - a boost for the eyes and skin, but what else can it do?
  • What is vitamin and what does it do for our health? Well, giving an answer to this is made more difficult by the fact that there are many different types of B vitamin. In general however they are a very important part of our nutrition, helping our energy metabolism and keeping our hearts and brains ticking over properly.
  • Beetroot is not that popular a vegetable. However, despite its potential to be messy it contains a lot of compounds that are very good for health. It can also be very tasty when cooked properly.
  • Coffee has a mixed reputation. On the one hand it is said to over stimulate you, leading to incresed appetite, irregular heartbeats and blood sugar levels. On the other hand coffee consumption is associated with reduced risk of Parkinson's disease.
  • Vitamin C is a vital component of our diet. Without it our we get a deficiency disease called scurvy in which our connective tissue disintegrates. This results in muscle pain, bone pain and bleeding since our connective tissue is a vital part of our bones and capillary walls.The twice nobel prize winner - Linus Pauling thought that vitamin C was a vital component of optimal health and that it should be consumed in large quantities. While the recommended daily amount is only 60mg per day, Linus Pauling was happy to advise people to take 3000mg (3g) daily. Do we really need this much and what good does it do us in these large quantities?
  • Is duck a healthy food? Ducks have a reputation for being high in saturated fat and have sometimes been seen as an unhealthy option in a restaurant. In this article we look at this and whether the rearing of domestic ducks is friendly to the environment?
  • Vitamin D has been getting a lot more coverage in the health press lately. It used to be thought that its role amounted to ensuring we absorbed enough calcium to give us strong bones. It appears that it has a much more significant role in our bodies than just this.
  • Over the past 50 years we've been told various stories about eggs. On the one hand they've been described as the complete nutritional package full of important vitamins and minerals. On the other hand we've been told to avoid eating them as they raise our cholesterol levels and raise our risk of salmonella. Which of these stories is true?
  • Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that is vital for our health. Without it our nervous system degenerates quickly. Many studies have investigated whether supplemental vitamin E can improve the health of the heart, and reduce cancer risk. Can it really make a big difference to our likelihood of suffering from these common diseases?
  • We hear a lot about saturated fat, trans-fats and hydrogenated fats, but what exactly are they, where are they found, and how do they affect our health? Fried foods have a bad reputation. However, if we fry foods with the right oils and in the right way, we can minimise any harm and maximise benefits. This article looks at the types of oil and fats that are found in food, the most healthy way to fry food, and how these foods affect your health.
  • Fluoride is a chemical that is used widely in industry and beyond. In terms of our health it is especially relevant when it is used in toothpaste and in the general water supply. Its use in the water supply is especially controversial for a number of reasons. This article looks at our sources of fluoride and asks: "is it really such a good thing"?
  • We hear a lot about leafy green vegetables and how good they are for us. It has been a common piece of advice for over one hundred years. However the evidence behind this common advice is not often made clear. Just what benefits can we expect, if we eat regular portions of green leafy vegetables, like grandma told us?
  • Glucosamine is an amino sugar that is used throughout our bodies as part of the connective tissues that hold us together. It is a very common supplement with regular reports in the papers that either suggest it works well or that it is not effective. What is the truth behind the headlines?
  • Glutamine is often spoken about as being an aid to recovery in athletes. Does the evidence bear this out?
  • Honey has a reputation both as a sweet condiment that should be eaten in moderation, and as a healthy sweetener. In some cases it has been ascribed with positive benefits for health, such as prevention of hayfever symptoms. Some honey such as the Manuka honey are supposed to heal wounds and promote health.
  • Hydrogenated fats have a bad name. Is this justified and are they worse or better than saturated fats? The devil as always is in the detail.
  • Are you an athlete, vegetarian or woman below 50? Your needs for iron are probably greater than you think. Without sufficient iron you may experience fatigue, irregular periods, increased incidence of infection, coughs and colds as well as irregular heartbeats.
  • Ice cream is seen as a fattening treat by most people. In response to this concern there are now many low fat types of ice cream available. Are these any better and is ice cream good or bad for health?
  • Jam and jelly are very similar although used in very different contexts. Are they OK in moderation? Are some better than others? This article aimed to find out.
  • It is hard to give an exact definition of junk food, but I give it a go here. I then look at how junk food affects our health and the environment.
  • Vitamin K is a very important vitamin that is severely underrated. It is a fat soluble vitamin and works in concert with vitamins A and D to ensure we don't get heart attacks or suffer with osteoporosis. Given that most people in the West either die or are disabled by by these two conditions, I strongly suggest you read on.
  • Kedgeree is a healthy rounded meal containing most of what you need. You could probably eat this and nothing else and remain in good health for a long time.
  • Lipoic acid is touted as a substance that can help us live longer by reducing the damage caused by oxidative stress that can lead to degenerative diseases. It is also thought to increase our energy levels. In addition lipoic acid has been associated with reduction in symptoms for diabetics and those with multiple sclerosis.
  • Liver is a bit like marmite. Some people love it and others hate it. However, it is one of the most nutritious foods you can find. In this article I find out what exactly it contains that is so good for you. I also provide a tasty recipe.
  • Our magnesium levels have decreased over the last century due to increased processing of foods in our diet, and mono-agriculture, that results in soils denuded of magnesium. This is a pity because magnesium is vital to our health in many ways, a fact that can be appreciated by the number of health conditions that seem to be improved through magnesium supplementation.
  • There are a lot of issues regarding milk. For instance: Is it important for calcium? Is raw milk dangerous? Is full fat milk bad for health? I've tried to address these issues in this article.
  • Vitamin B3, otherwise known as niacin or nicotinic acid, is a vital nutrient for our metabolism. It forms part of our main energy producing enzymes, NAD and NADP. The recommended amount is set at about 15mg daily, but the optimal amount is likely to be higher than this, as cells require optimal levels of NAD and NADP in order to function correctly.
  • I encourage many of my clients to eat nuts. They are a complete nutritional package that limits appetite for the overweight, provides healthy nutrients and provide a handy snack. However, fungal infestation, allergic reactions and excessive processing means that not all people or all nuts are suitable bedfellows.
  • Organic food has fallen in popularity in the UK recently(1), but has become more popular in the rest of the world including the US, China and Brazil. The reason for the reduction in the UK, is lack of demand in the larger supermarkets where sales fell by as much as 10% in 2011.
  • Oils can be found in many products from cakes and biscuits to salad dressings. You may assume they are similar, but there are enormous differences between oils, especially when it comes to health.
  • If you ever look at tables showing foods with the greatest amounts of different types of nutrient, you may be surprised to notice just how many tables parsley is at the top of. Parsley is basically a severely under-rated food.
  • Phytates are found in nuts, seeds and grains. They have got a bad press in some quarters due to their undoubted ability to bind to valuable vitamins and minerals in our gut, potentially leading to deficiency. However, the picture is more complex than it first appears. Phytates often appear in healthy foods and also have some pretty beneficial effects on our health.
  • Quinoa is seen as a superfood by many. This is because it is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the possible amino acids that can make up a protein.
  • Co-enzyme Q10 is a relatively common supplement. It is generally used by those who want to increase their energy, including athletes. However it also has a medical role in preventing statin users suffer from the side effects of statins, which include depletion of co Q10 stores.
  • Riboflavin is one of the B vitamins (B2). Best known for its ability to colour your pee bright yellow. It is unsurprisingly used as a food additive, E101 to add yellow colour. Because it plays a role in activating other B vitamins it is important to ensure you are getting enough of it.
  • Rice is probably the most consumed food in the world. Yet it has recently become controversial due to its content of the poison, arsenic.
  • You can find a lot of conflicting advice about how much salt you should eat. Most health authorities advocate lowering salt intake, due to its link with high blood pressure and stroke. However, Japanese people have some of the highest intakes in the world and yet live longer than anyone else. The Yanomami Indians of the Amazon rainforest have just about the lowest intakes and rarely live into old age. The truth of the matter is not as simple as it may at first appear, and how much you should consume is likely to be an individual matter.
  • Long term over consumption of salt gets a lot of attention for causing raised blood pressure, but it has also been linked with gastric cancer, osteoporosis and kidney stones. Chronic deficiency in salt has recently been linked with heart failure and increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
  • Soy bean consumption is huge. Soy bean oil and other soy bean products can be found all over the place. There are good and bad reports relating to the effects of soy on health. Is soya really as good as we are led to believe?
  • How many sweet items have you consumed today? For most of human history sugar and other sweeteners have been occasional luxuries. Now they are consumed in vast quantities. This matters, as the long term effects on your health of both these food types is enormous. Sugar itself is a naturally occurring substance, but most sweeteners have only been around for a few generations if that. Could they be worse than the dietary sugar they seek to eliminate?
  • Thiamin is one of the B vitamins and is vital for energy production in the body. It was one of the first vitamins to be discovered. Most people get sufficient to avoid symptoms of overt deficiency such as the disease beriberi. However, it is probable that most people are not getting enough of this vitamin.
  • Tea is the 2nd most widely consumed beverage in the world after water. Some people like it strong, others weak, some have it with milk, and others will drink it black. It is also a significant source of a number of chemicals such as caffeine, theanine and catechins. So, does tea drinking have significant consequences for our health, and if so which teas are best and how should we drink them?
  • Umami is considered to be one of 5 basic taste sensations. The others are sweet, sour, bitter and salty. The word originates from Japan, where it means pleasant savoury taste. It has only been known about for the last 105 years. More recently it has been associated with certain taste receptors in the tongue. So which foods contain this umami taste and are they healthy or not?
  • Wine has been around since antiquity, for at least 8,000 years in fact. It is popular in many cultures and even has a special place in a number of religions. We read regularly about the health benefits of red wine. It is strongly associated with improved cardiovascular health in the minds of many, but is it really good for the health?
  • Vegetarianism has become more popular in the UK since I was born. In many other countries around the world it is not fully understood. This is understandable, as there are many different degrees of vegetariansim from those avoiding just red meat, to those who only eat fruit. The degree of restriction that a vegetarian chooses may be based on religion, health grounds or ethical considerations. Given all of this, is vegetarianism as healthy as we are often told and does it help the environment?
  • Vinegar has many potential uses, but some of the more interesting include various roles in health. Studies using vinegar have unearthed evidence of benefit with weight loss, diabetes, cardiovascular health and jellyfish stings. Is it beneficial enough to keep in the medicine cabinet or is it best left as a condiment for various dishes?
  • When it comes to water one of our main concers is whether it is best to drink bottled water, tap water or use a water filter. Once we've decided what to drink, we then need to decide how much to drink. Some people sip from bottles throughout the day, but do we really need to keep our blood concentration from rising more than 2% as so many people seem to suggest?
  • Most sweeteners are worse than sugar. They have been linked with cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, depression, headaches and increased appetite. However, there is one sweetener, xylitol, that does not harm health, and can actually help prevent tooth decay.
  • Yeast is used to make bread rise, brew beer and make wine. It is also found in Marmite and many processed foods. In some health circles yeast has got a bad name, but there is not a great deal of evidence to back this up. Only a small number of people are truly allergic to yeast. The flip side is that yeast can actually improve the health of a number of people.
  • Yoghurt contains bacterial cultures that can help our body overcome infection, both within the gut and in the rest of our body. The type of yoghurt you consume can make a big difference to its potential beneficial effects.
  • Zinc is a metal that plays a key role in our body. It is vital for our fertility and immunity being probably the best first line of defense against the common cold, especially in the athletic community.