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megumi-nachev-600pixHow to use food as medicine (1) – heart health and strong bones

Is there food for specific health conditions? Does it work? What kind of food should we eat?  And how much? What about recipes? Books about food and health are today’s bestsellers so Angela J. Phillip goes in search of answers.

Principles of food and health

The University of Minnesota offers the following principles of food and health (taken from their website Taking charge).

  1. Solely taking vitamin supplements is not the way to good health.
  2. There are virtually no nutrients in animal-based foods that are not better provided by plants.
  3. Genes do not determine diseases on their own. Genes function only by being activated or expressed, and nutrition plays a critical role in determining which genes, good and bad, are expressed.
  4. Nutrition can substantially control the adverse effects of noxious chemicals.
  5. The same nutrition that prevents disease in its early stages (before diagnosis) can also halt or reverse disease in later stages (after diagnosis).
  6. Nutrition that is truly beneficial for one chronic disease will support health across the board.
  7. Good nutrition creates health in all areas of our existence. All parts are interconnected.

What kind? Food for specific conditions

ginger and leaves 220pixPregnancy and breastfeeding – ginger
The first healing food I ever came across was ginger. When I worked with some Vietamese refugees a long time ago, we (the English teachers) used to eat lunch with them. From time to time, they would ask us to get them some ingredients that were not available in the local market. Mostly it was ginger. Why was it so important? we asked. It was for the new mothers, they said. Ginger promotes healing after childbirth and stimulates the production of breast milk. While researching this article, I found that current consensus supported what my Vietnamese friends had believed (see Benefits of ginger for breastfeeding moms). It is also believed to be good for alleviating morning sickness.

I found that ginger is considered a super food. Yes, I know we’ve been bombarded with superfoods recently, but have a look. 11 Proven health benefits of ginger.

1001-healthy heart-220pixHeart health
To promote heart health
Oils from fish or olive oil – these oils reduce inflammation that makes cardiovascular disease likely.
Nuts & seeds – these lower LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) so there is a reduced risk of blood clots. All nuts are good but especially almonds and pumpkin seeds. Only a daily handful is necessary (or desirable).
Wholefood grains rich in B vitamins e.g. brown rice, oatmeal. These lower homocycsteine levels that are associated with cardiovascular disease.
Fruit and vegetables, green & black tea – contain antioxidants which interfere with free radicals that attack blood vessels and can disrupt the flow of blood to the heart.
Soy (and anything made from it) – reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Cocoa – dark chocolate (although it is not clear how much of this you need to eat!) – inhibits platelet clumping in a similar way to aspirin.

Bad fats – i) trans fats: (avoid if possible) often found in biscuits, cakes and pastries and many processed foods – check the labels, ii) saturated fats: (eat sparingly) fatty beef, pork or lamb, high fat dairy foods, coconut and palm oil, cocoa butter, lard.
Refined carbohydrates & sugars

Recipes & Cookbooks
10 heart-healthy recipes in less than 30 minutes free from The British Heart Foundation
The Heart Healthy Cookbook for Beginners 2020: 600 Low Sodium, Low Fat Recipes to Drop Pounds, Improve Health and Boost Metabolism (2019) by Mandy Newman
1,001 Heart Healthy Recipes: Quick, Delicious Recipes High in Fiber and Low in Sodium and Cholesterol That Keep You Committed to Your Healthy Lifestyle (2012) by Dick Logue

Osteoporosis-220pixBone health
To maintain good bone health and to prevent or alleviate osteoporosis (thinning of the bones)
Dairy products, salmon, canned sardines, dark green vegetables (e.g. broccoli), tofu, soy milk – these give calcium. Calcium is needed for building and maintaining bones and teeth (99% of the calcium in our bodies is in our bones and teeth). It is also necessary for blood to clot, muscles to contract (e.g. our hearts to beat). Every day we lose calcium from skin, nails, hair, sweat, urine and faeces. If we don’t get enough calcium from food or supplements, our bodies take it from our bones. As we get older, women need more calcium than men. Women under 50 and men under 70 need about 1,000 mg a day, but older than that 1,200 mg a day is needed.
Sunlight AND/OR oily fish (e.g. salmon, mackerel), cheese, egg yolks these provide Vitamin DWithout vitamin D, your body cannot absorb the calcium you take in whether from food or from supplements.
Spinach, tofu, almonds, cashew nuts, broccoli, lentils, pumpkin seeds are sources of magnesium which work to regulate levels of calcium and vitamin D. Magnesium is associated with higher bone density and improved bone crystal formation.
Green leafy vegetables (e.g. spinach etc) and broccoli – sources of Vitamin K. High levels of vitamin K are associated with high bone density and vice versa.
Tomatoes, apples, soy, prunes, peanuts, almonds, raisins, honey, seafood – sources of Boron. Boron is a trace mineral that increases how long vitamin D works in your body – it’s also good for brain health (more on food for brain health next week).

Alcohol – no more than one drink per day for women and two for men
Too much salt – avoid processed salty foods
Caffeine – no more than 2 cups of coffee per day
Large amounts of animal protein

Osteoporosis Diet: A Beginner’s Step-by-Step Guide To Preventing and Reversing Osteoporosis Through Nutrition: With Recipes and a Meal Plan (2019) by Brandon Gilta
Osteoporosis Diet: Your Complete Guide to Prevent and Reverse Bone Loss Using Natural Remedies, Diet and Exercise without Medication (2016) by Kasia Dziurda
Recipes for Healthy Bones –
free online cookbook from the International Osteoporosis Foundation

Intermitent Fasting-220pixHow much should we eat?

For decades, this was the biggest question and with the global rise in obesity and its accompanying health risks, it is still vital. Small wonder that some of the best-selling books on Amazon are slimming books of one kind or another.

There is some research to show that if we eat less, we might live longer. Have a look at Eating less might just help you to live longer from Healthline. This is a huge topic so there is no space to discuss it here. You could have a look at: 8 benefits of fasting backed by science or Is fasting good for you? but not everyone agrees that it’s a good idea. Even if you think it might be beneficial, is it worth it?

Here’s a book about intermittent fasting and how to do it.

Intermittent Fasting: The Code of Weight Loss Mastery in 2019 for Beginners and Advanced – Eat and Stop Obesity (2019) by Jason Stevens

And here’s a best-selling book of slimming recipes.

Pinch of Nom-220pixPinch of Nom Everyday Light: 100 tasty slimming recipes all under 400 calories (2019) by Kay Featherstone & Kate Allinson
These are healthy, low in calories and inexpensive. Ruby Tandoh in The Guardian says, “I find myself more roused to action by these recipes – easy, irreverent, inexpensive – than I am by a lot of the more involved recipes that grace the highbrow weekend food supplements.”

Do you use food as medicine? What are your opinions? Next week we’ll investigate food for brain health and high blood pressure.

As Hippocrates (460 -370 BC) said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Not a new idea then….

If possible, please buy books from the independent bookstores listed in the next section.

top image – Megumi Nachev on
Left image ginger & lemon – The Creative Exchange on
book covers – from Amazon

Bookshops & Events

Bookbuster 39 Queens Rd, Hastings
Go to Bookbuster’s Facebook page to see more.

Printed Matter Bookshop 185 Queens Rd, Hastings TN34 1RG
Jan 2020: Book launch of Paul Anderson’s Suedeheads & film screening of Horace Ove’s ‘Reggae 1970’ at The Electric Palace Cinema, Old Town.
Please see Facebook page for more details of these and other events.

The Bookkeeper Bookshop 1a Kings Rd, St Leonards
Come and look at the Bookkeeper Bookshop Facebook page to see more.

The Hare & Hawthorn Bookshop 
51 George St, Hastings Old Town
For more information see the Hare & Hawthorn Facebook page.


Hi there – I’ve fallen off my intermittent fasting resolution and have eaten a load of nuts at the wrong time. I think it’s because I’ve just researched the article on food as medicine and it made me hungry. My Auntie Rene (sadly passed on now) always claimed that she got fat because of eating peanuts during the war. Well, I can manage it when there isn’t a war. Nuts are so moreish and they’re good for you if you don’t eat too many (yes, they are hugely fattening), but did you know that they take ages to digest? About 8 hours or more.

I’m still trying to get fit. Proud to report that I can now run on the spot for 10 minutes at a time and I’m doing it several times a day. So far so good.

My first novel is getting closer to being publication-ready. Little by little. Proof-reading nearly finished. Next comes the blurb – one for the book cover and one for Amazon. It’s harder than you’d think.

At last, I’m getting on with my website and I’m planning to send out the first Newsletter in the coming week.

Thank you again to those of you who have signed up for the Newsletter. If you haven’t, I would be thrilled if you did.

Please see: The Newsletter signup form is on the right-hand side as you scroll down.

Comments and suggestions on anything and everything are always welcome.

Thanks so much for reading.


Angela J. Phillip

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Posted 09:00 Tuesday, Jan 21, 2020 In: Hastings Bookchat

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