A nutritionist’s guide to surviving a heartbreak

The high and the low

Some of us have had the luck of falling in love, experiencing that incredible high, the feeling of being about to burst with too much happiness. Walking around town with a constant smile on your face whilst listening to a special song on repeat, going over every detail of the last time you saw each other and counting the minutes till you’ll get to spend time together again.

Having said that, some of us have unfortunately followed that rollercoaster high with a pretty steep fall. The fall that maybe you did not see coming, or maybe you did but you still hung on for dear life, hoping it would keep you from getting hurt.

Lockdown season unfortunately marked the end of numerous relationships (yours truly included), so a few of us found themselves suddenly alone in the house with only memories of what once was, and literally nowhere to go.

Now don’t get me wrong, going through a heartbreak is always hard no matter where you are and whoever you live with. But going through it alone and during a lockdown, it’s a whole new ball game.

Because yes you can video call family and friends and you should be grateful if you have had the chance to do that, but not being able to have a comforting hug or touch when you feel like the ground beneath your feet is falling, well it can make things really challenging.

So, to anyone who has done that and is still standing, I applaud you.

Road to Recovery

This article was born to use this intense situation I am still working daily to move on from, to help anyone else who may be in the same boat right now, or who may find themselves in it in the future.

Here are my simple nutrition and lifestyle tips that I hope help you, at least in part, to support both your physical and mental health as you navigate your way out of this emotional storm.

It is important to try and get some nutrients in you

Quick meals to keep you going

Soon after a breakup, you may not feel very hungry (I certainly wasn’t), but it’s still important to try and get some nutrients in you. The last thing you want is to be heartbroken and sick, when no one is going to bring you chicken soup in bed. So, time to buckle up and have your own back.


Soups are the easiest choice, quick to make, few ingredients needed and easier to digest (especially if blended). I lived for a few days off lentil soup with some carrots and celery thrown in. Carrot, red lentil and ginger is another good one, red lentils and chestnut is great for the cold season too. Always add a swirl of olive oil before eating, so you can throw some healthy fats in there too.


Smoothies can also work well. Again, you just need to throw a bunch of stuff in a blender and you’re done. Make sure to pack protein, healthy fats and fibre into your smoothie – you can search for options for each of these on the Superfied platform.

For example, you could include avocado or a couple of tablespoons of chia seeds or some nut butter for top-up on protein and healthy fat, and maybe a handful of oats for B vitamins (think energy) and extra fibre too.

Feed your adrenal glands

Emotional and physical stress in the form of sadness, anxiety and oh so many tears, can deplete your adrenal glands (the two little pyramids on top of your kidneys that push cortisol, your stress hormone, into your bloodstream to deal with emergencies) of the nutrients they feed on.

Make sure to use foods that can provide you with minerals and vitamins to support them, namely: B vitamins, selenium, magnesium, Vitamin C:

B Vitamins

Include food rich in B vitamins including B12, B1 (thiamine), B5 (pantothenic acid), B3 (niacin): think whole grains (e.g. oats, brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa), beans, dark green leafy vegetables (e.g. spinach, broccoli, turnip greens, asparagus), fish and shellfish, eggs, liver, poultry and red meat, salmon, tuna, chickpeas, milk, cheese, yogurt, fortified nutritional yeast…


Top-up on selenium-rich foods such as brazil nuts, tuna, halibut, sardines, shrimp, turkey and chicken


Add foods like pumpkin, chia seeds, almonds, spinach, cashews, peanuts, black beans and edamame

Vitamin C

Think about foods like red pepper, orange, kiwi, green pepper, broccoli, strawberries, brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower

If the above is confusing you, just focus on mixing different coloured vegetables, plant or animal protein of your choice and some wholegrains in the same plate. Dress with healthy fats (eg olive oil) or have some avocado or olives, a handful of seeds or nuts with it and you are good to go.

Give your gut a hug

Stress can have an adverse effect on the balance in your gut bacteria, promoting the growth of opportunistic over beneficial ones. This can lead to bloating, cramps, constipation, diarrhoea and more. Trust me, it’s better to cry on a comfortable bed or couch, rather than bent over in pain on the toilet.

To try and avoid all these symptoms, you could think about adding some pro and prebiotic foods to your meals or snack (whatever you feel like eating).

If you’re wondering about prebiotics, they feed your beneficial bacteria and can be found in foods such as asparagus, green bananas, garlic, onions, apples, Jerusalem artichokes to name a few. Probiotic foods contain live bacteria, think yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha. You can find a full list at Superfied.

One suggestion: if you are not used to eating prebiotic foods, start low and go slow, letting your body adjust. This should avoid potential bloating and gas.

Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!

When we are stressed or anxious, we can lose water from our bodies. How?

Some people can have more bowel movements than usual, especially if they suffer from IBS where stress can easily be a trigger for flair ups. More bowel movements or looser bowel movements = water loss

When we are anxious, we can sweat more = water loss

Unfortunately, whilst we are too busy crying, staring at the walls, punching pillows or just trying to distract ourselves watching Netflix, we can forget to do the basic stuff: drink some water.

So set a reminder if you need to, make the water bottle or water filter your shadow and keep it next to you for a visual reminder but try to drink at least 4 pints in a day. Herbal teas count too.

Easier said than done, but try to decrease foods that can make your blood sugar spike and crash, creating endogenous stress (inside your body), or that could worsen any inflammation that stress may already have triggered: alcohol, coffee, sugary foods like ice cream, pastries and cookies.

Having said that, if one day you really cannot stay away from that pint of ice cream, just do it. You are human after all and this is pretty crap time so give yourself a break.

You may not feel fabulous after that much sugar anyway, so just choose healthier options the following day to get your body back to balance again.


Connect with nature and breathe it in

Take a walk on the wild side

Or at least at the local park! Since my break up in March, I have walked the perimeter of the park near my house religiously at least twice a day (once when we only had one hour of air in lockdown). Every single time I came back feeling better, sometimes a little better, sometimes much more.

I felt like I could breathe again and felt lighter, and watching lots and lots of dogs playing around really helped to switch my thoughts from crappy to happy at least for a short time.

This is my own experience, but it’s also backed up by science, in fact, a 2018 study showed that “locations with highest levels of nature had the greatest effect on reducing levels of stress” and 2019 research in the publication Nature, suggested that 120 or more minutes of contact with nature per week, was associated with good health or high wellbeing consistently across different groups including older adults and those with long term health issues.

Move your body, let the energy out

Something else that really helped me, especially at the beginning, was trying to be disciplined and moving my body each single day.

Sometimes I had lots of sadness or angry energy to let out, so resistance work really helped or kickboxing workouts (my sessions varied from 20 to 40 minutes, based on how much sleep I got the night before, hence how much energy I had left). If the previous night had been a really rough one, then just a simple stretching session would do the trick.

I know, when you are heartbroken the last think you want to do is put your leggings on and work out, but I never regretted it. Sometimes I cried all the way through, which would have been fantastic in a comedy, other times I really enjoyed letting all those heavy feelings out through movement and weight lifting.

Weight, cardio or stretching, I moved my body each day and never regretted it. I needed the endorphins; I needed the good stuff. So, choose whatever exercise you may feel like doing, be it running, yoga, Pilates, dancing or just stretching. It does not matter as long as you move.

I enjoyed letting all those heavy feelings out through movement 

Take time to focus on your breath

As time went on, I managed to cry less and attempted some short breathing/guided meditations sessions.

The ones I found most useful were on a free app called FitOn (which I still use for both workouts and meditations), or if I needed something deeper and a little more intense, I would try some breathwork sessions on an app called Flourish. Just Breathe is another great and simple app that I like with sessions as short as two minutes.

Biohack your stress response

If you are someone interested in biohacking, you can also have a look at Sensate. It’s a small gadget that looks like a river stone that you place on your chest and connects to an app that plays music.

Based on the rhythm of the music, the stone vibrates and stimulates your vagus nerve (connecting your gut to your brain and branching to many other organs in your body), stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system (the one that calms you down), and supporting better sleep too. It’s not free but it can be a useful investment to try if you run out of options.


Simply petting a dog can lower cortisol levels 

Borrow my doggy

I am sharing the one thing that probably helped me the most, especially whilst I still had two months of lockdown to go.

Being a dog lover since I was a child, I joined an app called BorrowMyDoggy, which lets you borrow other people’s dogs so they can learn to socialise and you can get the happy factor without the commitment of having your own dog (or maybe just because your landlord does not allow you to have one in the house).

Research has actually shown that simply petting a dog can lower cortisol levels and the interaction between you and the dog can increase the hormone oxytocin (the so-called ‘love hormone’).

Thanks to BorrowMyDoggy I met Lucy, and she has been my fluffy guardian angel ever since. We meet once to twice a week for a few hours, chill on the couch or play at the park and every time I see her or simply pet her, I feel instantly calm and so much happier.

So if you are a dog lover, this can be another option for you.

It’s good to talk

If you can, talk to someone. Don’t keep all these emotions and thoughts inside. Friends, family, or if that’s not a possibility even calling support phone lines such as The Samaritans can really help. They are happy to listen and talk to you 24/7.

Sending you my love

I hope you found these suggestions useful and no matter what you think, please know the journey out of your heartbreak won’t be linear but it will slowly get better.

Sometimes you will feel like you are taking two steps back and that’s ok, you will take one more forward tomorrow. And remember, considering what you are going through, you are doing a great job.


Nutrients and Botanicals for Treatment of Stress: Adrenal Fatigue, Neurotransmitter Imbalance, Anxiety, and Restless Sleep (2009). Kathleen A. Head, ND, and Gregory S. Kelly, ND https://altmedrev.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/v14-2-114.pdf

Levels of Nature and Stress Response (2018). Alan Ewert and Yun Chang https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5981243/

Spending at least 120minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing (2019). Mathew P.White, IanAlcock, JamesGrellier, BenedictW.Wheeler, Terry Hartig, Sara L.Warber, Angie Bone, Michael H. Depledge & Lora E. Fleming. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44097-3.pdf

The efficacy of aerobic exercise and resistance training as transdiagnostic interventions for anxiety-related disorders and constructs: A randomized controlled trial (2017). Daniel M LeBouthillier, Gordon J G Asmundson. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29049901/

Moving to Beat Anxiety: Epidemiology and Therapeutic Issues with Physical Activity for Anxiety (2018). Aaron Kandola, Davy Vancampfort, Matthew Herring, Amanda Rebar, Mats Hallgren, Joseph Firth and Brendon Stubbs. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6061211/

Meditation for posttraumatic stress: Systematic review and meta-analysis (2018). Lara Hilton,  Alicia Ruelaz Maher, Benjamin Colaiaco, Eric Apaydin, Melony E Sorbero, Marika Booth, Roberta M Shanman, Susanne Hempel. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27537781/

A comparison of mindfulness-based stress reduction and an active control in modulation of neurogenic inflammation (2013). Melissa A.Rosenkranz, Richard J.Davidson, Donal G.MacCoon, John F.Sheridan, Ned H.Kalin, Antoine Lutza. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0889159112004758

This self-care health hack is from Superfied nutritional therapy expert, Valentina Cartago

Find your foods with Superfied

Manage acid reflux and GERD

A burning issue…

Do you remember when you were young and could eat anything you wanted without any digestive issues? Aaaahhhh, those were the days….

Digestive symptoms are one of the main health concerns I come across and the most common issue related to that is acid reflux. That’s probably not surprising because in the UK it affects around 40% of the adult population.

What is the difference between acid reflux and GERD?

Let’s start from the basics: acid reflux happens because when the food you eat arrives in your stomach, a little valve that separates your oesophagus from your stomach (called lower oesophageal sphincter) does not close properly. This allows your stomach acid to head back up in your oesophagus, making you experience symptoms such as burning in your chest (heartburn) or a sour taste in your mouth.

Experiencing acid reflux every now and then is ok (we have all overeaten at times like Christmas right?), but if you start suffering from it more than twice a week over several weeks without any improvements, you may have developed another condition called GERD (Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease). This should be looked at by your doctor in order to avoid more serious issues in the future.

What are the common symptoms for GERD?

Symptoms can vary from one person to another but include:

  • Heartburn
  • Acid Regurgitation
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Feeling a tightness in the throat
  • Dry Cough, worse at night
  • Bad Breath
What risk factors increase the chance of GERD?

You are more likely to experience GERD if any of these scenarios relate to you:

  • Pregnancy
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Having Hiatal Hernia
  • Smoking
  • Long-term use of NSAID’s (Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs)

Antacids are probably the most common over the counter (OTC) medications you may reach for, to provide relief from GERD, however I would always suggest talking to your GP first.

It is always a good idea to keep a food diary, tracking how certain foods make you feel, as this will help you to pinpoint potential culprits. A Registered Nutritional Therapist can be helpful in guiding and supporting you on this journey, including looking at your lifestyle to see if you could incorporate simple changes to improve the situation.

Should you choose to, your nutritional therapist can also liaise with your GP for a more comprehensive type of support as it is always useful to have your healthcare practitioners communicate with each other.

If you’re regularly experiencing acid reflux you may have ‘GERD’

Diet changes to manage GERD

Let’s look at some examples of dietary and lifestyle suggestions you may want to think about to manage GERD.

Foods to decrease/avoid:

High-fat foods

Things like fried foods, processed meats and salad dressings can relax the sphincter in your stomach which won’t help your cause

Coffee and Tea 

Due to their caffeine content, these everyday drinks can aggravate reflux symptoms. Instead try herbal teas such as liquorice, camomile, tulsi, slippery elm or marshmallow which all have a soothing effect instead


I’m sorry, but don’t shoot the messenger! Chocolate can cause an increase in acidity in the first hour after ingestion, therefore potentially making symptoms worse

Tomatoes (including sauces, ketchup and soup)

They are a naturally acidic food and so should be avoided while you have symptoms


Unfortunately, alcohol can relax the sphincter valve whilst also stimulating acid production in your stomach

Food to have more of:

High fibre foods

These types of foods can make you feel fuller for longer which can help you avoid overeating – a major cause of acid reflux. Examples of high fibre foods are:

  • Wholegrains – couscous, brown rice, oatmeal
  • Root vegetables – sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots
  • Green vegetables – think asparagus, broccoli, green beans
Alkaline foods

These types of food have a higher PH than acidic foods and can help offset strong stomach acid. Some examples of alkaline foods are:

  • Fennel
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Artichokes
  • Spinach
Restoring a healthy microbiome 

The environment in your gut contains a mix of harmful and beneficial bacteria. Having more beneficial bacteria than harmful creates a better environment for efficient digestion, thus avoiding any issues.

Probiotic and prebiotic foods in your diet will help create a healthier gut microbiome by leading to more beneficial bacteria so this is a great place to start:

Probiotic foods

These food contain natural probiotic properties:

  • Kefir
  • Yoghurt
  • Kombucha
  • Raw Sauerkraut
  • Raw Kimchi
  • Raw fermented pickles and vegetables
Prebiotic foods

These foods feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut:

  • Apples
  • Leeks
  • Garlic
  • Greener Bananas
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Asparagus

For a full list of high fibre foods, probiotics and prebiotics personalised to your body type and wellbeing status, log into your Superfied Space.

Lifestyle changes to manage GERD

How you eat your food, how much you eat, when you eat it and what your lifestyle habits are like will all have a bearing on how easily you can manage acid reflux and GERD. Here are some practical self-care tips: 

  • Sit upright whilst eating and keep the upright position, instead of slouching on a couch for example, for 45-60 minutes
  • Leave 3 hours between your last meal and bedtime
  • Try raising the head in bed by between 6 to 8 inches
  • Avoid smoking
  • Optimise your weight (ie find your natural body weight)
  • If you are used to large meal portions, think about portion control (as much as you can fit into two cupped hands for each meal)
  • Address any sources of stress (managing stress always sets you up for better wellbeing)

In summary, acid reflux symptoms can be managed but should you notice these symptoms are happening regularly for several weeks even after applying diet and lifestyle changes, please have a chat with your GP to get professional support and find out what your options are.


  • Management of GERD, The Primary Care Strategy. Yale Journal Biol & Med.
  • 1999; 72: 203-9
  • A Argyrou, E Legaki, C Koutserimpas, M Gazouli, I Papaconstantinou, G Gkiokas, and G Karamanolis. Risk Factors for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and Analysis of Genetic Contributors. World J Clin Cases. 2018 Aug 16; 6 (8): 176-182
  • EM Song, H-K Jung, and JM Jung. The Association Between Reflux Esophagitis and Psychological Stress. Dig Dis Sci. 2013 Feb; 58 (2): 471-477.
  • American College of Gastroenterology. Acid Reflux. Accessed 11/20/2019
  • Boeckxstaens GE. Review article: the pathophysiology of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2007;26:149-160

This self-care health hack is from Superfied nutritional therapy expert, Valentina Cartago

Find out more about the Superfied Way

Achieve sustainable weight loss

Ditch the diet and lose weight (not just for summer!)

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in search of a swimsuit, is usually simultaneously in search of a diet!

We all know on a subconscious level that short-term extreme diets don’t work in the long term, and, that obesity causes serious health issues to many, so what to do?

Here is a five-point diet strategy that will work long-term, long after summer has gone. It’s a simple, sensible and sustainable approach to weight loss which will also improve your overall wellbeing.

1. Balance your blood sugar levels

If your blood sugar levels are consistently elevated (through regularly consuming excess caffeine, alcohol or processed foods), then your insulin hormone will be high and a chronic stress response takes place, accelerating the inflammatory processes.

Try adding protein to each meal to blunt the blood sugar response and choose lower GI/GL foods such as sweet potatoes, lentils and beans.

Adding fibre to meals not only contributes towards positive gut health, it can also help to make your bowel movements more regular, ensuring your gut isn’t holding an excess baggage. Prebiotics are especially good.

You can boost your fibre through foods like wholemeal grains or pectin from apples, Search for fibre on Superfied to see a list of high-fibre and prebiotic food options.

If, after trying these tips, you still feel that your weight is not shifting, it may be time to enlist professional health support to consider other contributing factors such as hormones, allergies and other underlying conditions. Remember, picking and choosing elements from a variety of diet plans may just undermine your hard work!

2. Control your stress levels

Exercise is not just important for a strong body, but for a strong mind also!

When we are stressed, we activate our sympathetic nervous system. If we stay chronically stressed, we divert blood supply from our digestive and sexual organs, potentially causing digestive problems and reduced libido – and stubborn weight around your belly!

Relaxing activities such as yoga, meditation, exercise and deep beathing, encourage our body back into a parasympathetic nervous system response and to better function physiologically.

Your body will then start to release some of the excess abdominal fat.  Some people, when stressed, tend to eat more. If you find you tend to over-eat when stressed, then remember Superfied’s ‘2 hands’ rule for portion control – a practical way of maintaining portion control.

Eat as much as you can fit into your cupped hands for each meal
3. Hydrate!

Water fuels your cells – and remember we have about 100 trillion of them and we’re all 70% water!

The more power they have to do the work, the better they perform, and the less waste you accumulate. So, hydrate, and not just with the ‘fun’ liquids like fizzy drinks, alcohol and caffeine (they can be counter-productive for water intake!). Aim for 6-8 glasses of filtered.

4. Address any food allergies or sensitivities

If you have a sensitivity to gluten, eating cheese or deadly nightshade vegetables (like potatoes, aubergines and tomatoes) every day can create an inflammatory response that builds up, get out of control and disrupt your metabolism.

Find your food sensitives and if in doubt, ask a registered dietician or nutritionist who will get to the bottom of any food allergies and then you can restore gut function by limiting their intake temporarily.

This is a simple, sensible and sustainable approach to weight loss 

5. Try out Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting (IF) is not for everyone (Blue body types may struggle – and it’s especially not diabetics), but IF can be very effective for shifting stubborn weight gain.

Aim to restrict your eating window to 12 hours for example, eating between 7am-7pm or even tighter. Your digestive system then has time to relax, recharge and process any food effectively.

For some people, IF give the body time and energy to repair, making it, not only good for weight loss, but for anti-aging and mental sharpness too!

Now, you may have heard of juice-fasts to lose weight. These can be great if done under professional supervision but are unsustainable if done for too long, leading to potential nutritional deficiencies. Best to check with an expert if you’re thinking of that.

As you already know, there are no magic bullets for weight loss – when you are healthy and balanced, you won’t be overweight. The key is to get into some good habits on a daily basis – Superfied will help with that but if it’s not shifting, there may be a good reason why and that’s the time to seek professional 1:1 advice. It’s an investment in you!

This self-care health hack is from Superfied expert nutritionist Karen Preece Smith

Managing your hormones and health

Why are hormones important?

Hormones are chemical substances produced by glands across our body. These glands make up what’s known as our endocrine system.

Our endocrine system, nervous system and immune systems all work together and rely on each other to keep us healthy (i.e., in our natural balance). In this context, hormones play the role as messengers to regulate the biological process that keep us functioning optimally.

From a naturopathic perspective, our body always does what’s needed for us to perform at our best; it is a self-balancing machine! Our network of glands – and thereby hormones – play a critical role in that and, if one hormone is out of balance, then all are out of balance which means we are out of balance.

Where are our hormones?

You may be familiar with some hormones more than others but they all play a critical role in our body’s operations and are be found across our body. If you’re familiar with chakras, each of the major chakra centres map to each of the major endocrine glands.

The primary seat of each of the major glands that make up our endocrine system is as follows, from bottom to top:

  • Ovaries / Testes

    Produce oestrogen / progesterone and testosterone respectively and are known as the ‘sex hormones’

  • Pancreas

    Produces insulin which helps maintain our blood sugar levels

  • Adrenal glands

    Produce adrenalin and cortisol, critical in fight or flight situations and known as the ‘stress hormones’

  • Thymus

    Located near our heart and supports our immune system by producing white blood cells (T cells)

  • Thyroid

    Produces thyroxine which is essential for our metabolism (of energy)

  • Pituitary

    Located near the base of our brain; it’s the master gland, sending messages to all the other glands

  • Pineal

    Located in our brain and produces melatonin, important for sleeping in line with circadian cycles (also called ‘the third eye’)

Staying in your natural balanced state is good for your hormone health
How do hormones work?

The pituitary gland governs all of the other hormone glands in the endocrine system. It gets its instruction from something called the ‘hypothalamus’ which is a key part of our brain that maintains our homeostasis’ (i.e. natural biological balance). It continually checks what’s going on internally and externally and sends messages to the pituitary gland (via hormones) to take the appropriate action.

For example, our hypothalamus checks if are we too hot, too cold; feeling stressed or threatened etc. The pituitary gland then sends messages (hormones) to all the other glands.

Let’s take a common, practical example of how our hormones work; something we’re all familiar with…stress!

The hormone process of dealing with stress:
  1. The hypothalamus registers increased mental stress via our nervous system
  2. It sends a message to the pituitary gland
  3. The pituitary gland tells the adrenal glands (by releasing hormones) to produce adrenalin or cortisol for a ‘flight’ for ‘fight’ scenario respectively. Adrenalin is responsible for ‘fight or flight’ but If the stress continues then the body swaps to cortisol production to help us deal with continual stress
  4. The production of adrenalin or cortisol by the adrenal glands causes an insulin spike by telling the liver to release sugar that it has stored
  5. The insulin gives the body the energy to either fight or take flight by taking the sugar into the cells.

So as one hormone increases (i.e., moves beyond its regular level) it causes the others to do so too because when one part of our body takes the strain, the other parts have to compensate. 

What causes our hormones to go out of balance?

As you can see, hormones are critical to our wellbeing. The challenge is that hormone imbalances are relatively easy occurrences because they are very sensitive.

The stress example shows how easy it is for our whole endocrine system – and therefore our body – to get pushed out of its natural balance (optimal wellbeing). And believe it or not, the biggest trigger for a hormone imbalance is…stress!

A hormone imbalance is ultimately the result of a stress on/in the body, whether the stress is current or historic – and it doesn’t matter what that form of stress is (e.g. mental, physical, food allergy, inactive hereditary gene, nutrient deficiency etc).

Some body types (such as Blue body types) are naturally more susceptible to stress. Even with more resilient body types (like Green body types) continually overdoing things will eventually breach the body’s natural threshold, pushing the hormones out of balance. How that manifests is down to our inherent weaknesses, lifestyle, diet and environment; these factors determine what part of our system goes out of balance, by how much and for how long.


Food choices plays a key role here; for example, dehydration will stress the body. While we may think of preventing that by drinking plenty of water, foods like tea and coffee are diuretics and so cause us to urinate more which can bring on dehydration.

Dehydration is a type of stress on our body and so, if you tend to drink more tea or coffee when you’re mentally stressed in order to power through it, you’re actually making things worse!

Another consideration of tea and coffee is that they are also stimulants (in the form of caffeine). This means they will also trigger the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline, causing a release of glucose which, in turns, triggers the production of insulin which then opens the cells to allow the glucose to enter. Something to think about!

What are the signs of a hormone imbalance?

Whatever is causing the stress, it leads to increased cholesterol production, resulting in increased cortisol production. Cortisol is the most powerful anti-inflammatory we know but if not kept in check, this hormone builds up and triggers further biological responses (see below).

The disturbance to our natural hormone levels caused by stress can travel ‘up the endocrine system’ eventually affecting our thyroid function and metabolic health. Here are some of the escalating signs to look out for suggesting that our hormones are out of balance.

1. Ovaries/Testes: Fertility problems

A hormone imbalance usually first show itself in issues with reproductive health due to incorrect levels of oestrogen/progesterone/testosterone. Problems with conceiving are a major tell-tell sign and are becoming increasingly common.

2. Pancreas: Elevated blood sugar levels

As we have seen, stress causes our adrenals to produce more cortisol causing insulin spikes which, if a common occurrence over a number of years, will alter our natural blood sugar levels (eventually resulting in type 2 diabetes)

3. Adrenals: Burnout, digestive issues, high cholesterol

Ongoing stress cause the adrenals to keep firing until they eventually become fatigued (‘adrenal fatigue’ leading to ‘burnout’). Our natural instinct is to eat sugary food which won’t help!

This can be accompanied by poor digestion as the body de-prioritises the digestive function in order to deal with a perceived fight / flight situation (digestion is secondary to survival!)

High cholesterol may also be a tell-tale sign that your hormones are out of balance. Modern lifestyles tend to lead to elevated levels of stress which requires cortisol production to manage it; cholesterol is essential for producing cortisol. So, the more stressed we become the more cholesterol we produce in order to create more cortisol.

While we’re all now aware of having high cholesterol, it’s important to note that if our cholesterol it too low, our body will prioritise its production over other hormones. This will disrupt our overall hormonal health and general wellbeing as well as compromising our brain health (which requires an adequate level of cholesterol).

Green body types are strong enough to cope with multiple adrenal ‘asks’ but Blue body types will suffer adrenal fatigue and burn out much quicker.

4. Thymus: Compromised immune system

Overloading our adrenal glands and spiking insulin puts pressure on our thymus gland which causes our immune system to weaken; this is why we’re more likely to catch a cold (or covid!) when we’re stressed. This can also lead to increased allergies

5. Thyroid: Feeling overly hot/cold, hot flushes, weight gain/loss, insomnia, autoimmune disease, Graves’ disease, Hashimoto disease, aches and pains, feeling stiff in the morning, hair loss

Anyone with a naturally weak thyroid function (which can be hereditary) can react to ongoing stress with a thyroid imbalance. Because our thyroid governs metabolism and temperature regulation, this can result in us feeling either too hot (including hot flushes) or too cold. 

Thyroid issues tend to be more common in women and especially after giving birth or around menopause because those are both times of big hormonal changes. If previous underlying hormonal issues are present, even if having gone unnoticed, the effects can be especially pronounced.

A hormone imbalance in the thyroid leads to either an overactive or underactive thyroid, described as hypo-thyroid and hyper-thyroid respectively. Each carries its own issues and if the imbalance deepens, hyperthyroidism can lead to hypothyroidism although this can take years. Any thyroid symptom is best checked out professionally as soon as possible to prevent further health complications.

Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid because the body creates too much of the thyroid hormone, thyroxine. This results in the metabolism speeding up; increased heart rate, feeling hot. lack of sleep, weight loss, eye irritations

Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid because the body doesn’t create enough thyroxine. This results in the metabolism slowing down which can lead to slower heart rate, weight gain, feeling cold, sleeping more than you need, hair loss (including losing the outer ends of your eyebrows).

Graves’ disease is a form of hyperthyroidism where the immune system attacks the thyroid, causing inflammation there. Conversely, Hashimoto’s disease results in hypothyroidism due to the same issue of the immune system attacking the thyroid.

It is worth noting that gluten can inhibit thyroid hormone production and is common in people with an autoimmune disease which can be a result of an underlying thyroid issue.

So, to recap, a hormonal imbalance which isn’t addressed in the context of ongoing stress can escalate up the endocrine chain thereby pushing the body ever further out of it natural balance.


Pills, patches and hormone function

Generally, women are more naturally in tune with their bodies and so are more sensitive to hormone imbalances. In addition, the menstrual cycle, childbirth and menopause are times of hormonal shifts.

As a result, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is most often a female consideration, although not exclusively, and is increasingly a choice for men with low testosterone. But what are the implications of HRT?

HRT replaces hormones that the body is low in and in most cases, this is oestrogen. When given HRT, the body responds by reducing and then stopping its own oestrogen production.

Heavy periods are often one of the issues that can lead to a course of action of either HRT or taking a contraceptive pill (which is sometimes used as an alternative to HRT).

However, it’s important to note that heavy periods are a sign that the body is actually moving out of balance and needs attention. They can result from a build-up of fibroids which in turn are a result of high oestrogen levels.

Periods perform a critical function in the body’s wellbeing because they allow the elimination of toxins. In cases where a hysterectomy results, taking periods out of the equation results in toxins building up in the body and places more pressure on the liver to detoxify. HRT and oestrogen based contraceptive pills actually increase oestrogen levels. This can lead to a downward spiral of health.

Know the full impact of painkillers on your mind and body

Painkiller Alert!

Probably the most common form of hormone disruption is through the use of painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen. These have been shown to interrupt the build-up of hormones.

The regular use of painkillers may seem like a no-brainer but they actually create a deeper issue in both the short and long term. A growing body of research underlines the health issues of strong pain killers (opioids), including infertility, anxiety, depression, muscle loss and long-term osteoporosis.

Self-care tips for balancing hormones

Hormones can largely be managed without medication with some simple steps based on the basic understanding outlined earlier.

Five steps for natural hormone management

1. Manage stress

As we have seen, stress in any form starts a hormonal shift which has a chain reaction to push the body out of balance. Tackling the cause has to be the first step and can be done naturally. Often, it’s just a case of taking time out when mental stress builds up.

2. Improve hydration

Stress has a diuretic effect on the body (causes water to leave the body), leading to dehydration. The first step is to reduce foods that encourage dehydration – like tea and coffee! They are both stimulants that we tend to reach for when stressed and in large quantities will actually increase stress.

The second step is to hydrate the body – that includes not just drinking more water but also more fruit and vegetables since they actually help the body absorb the water more efficiently.

3. Balance your blood sugar

As the body produces more insulin as a response to stress, it’s important to stabilise our blood sugar since we are not facing a real fight or flight scenario (and to avoid the sugar turning to fat). To do this, increasing our vegetable intake is key, especially leafy green vegetables. And we should support this with physical activity in line with your body type, helping cut stress and using up any excess sugar.

4. Try ‘Tapping’

Tapping is a kinesiology technique that has been shown to help restore our body’s natural balance. It’s especially beneficial for balancing the thymus which becomes suppressed with stress and supports our immune system.

Using your fingers, tap or gently thump (with a clenched hand) the centre of your upper chest, where your thymus gland is. Take a few deep breaths as you do that and this will correct the energy flow, giving your immune system a boost.

5. Increase Essential Fatty Acids

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) enable our endocrine system to work. EFAs are where Omega 3, 6, 7 and 9 come from (although 7 & 9 are not essential). EFAs help reduce cortisol which helps prevent the chain reaction of hormone imbalance.

We primarily need Omega 3 and 6 for good hormone health; ideally, we should have four times more Omega 6 than Omega 3 in our diet. We can get this from nuts, seeds and vegetables for example. A lack of EFAs can lead to diabetes type 2 (EFAs and insulin have a symbiotic relationship and insulin prevents the breakdown of EFAs in our body)

A word on sleep, circadian rhythms and chakras:

Our endocrine glands work with light; sun exposure regulates our hormones; the most obvious example of the sunlight-hormone connection is the production of serotonin by the pineal gland to wake us up in the morning.

This is why going to sleep and waking up at the right time and working in harmony with nature’s circadian rhythms is key to our hormone health; when these rhythms are disrupted, so are our hormones. Nature gives us what we need, where we need it and how we need it!

Chakras are (light) energy centres and each of them directly corresponds to an endocrine gland. If you are familiar with them, balancing your chakras will also help balance your glands and therefore hormones levels.

Recommended foods for good hormone health

As mentioned, Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) play a critical role in keeping the endocrine system healthy and Omega 3, 6, 7 and 9 is a major contributor to that. Including these foods in your diet will help achieve that:

Good sources of Omega 3:

Oily fish*; oysters, seeds (esp, flaxseeds*), nuts (esp. walnuts), algae, soybeans

Good sources of Omega 6:

Nuts* and seeds*, vegetables/veg oils (esp. sunflower oil), evening primrose oil, borage oil, fish, eggs, meat, poultry

Good sources of Omega 7:

Sea buckthorn* berries, avocado, olives

Good sources of Omega 9:

Fish*, seeds, nuts, soybeans, Olives, olive oil, vegetable oils, nut oils,

* highest natural sources

If you are suffering from any of the health conditions mentioned here and these diet and self-care tips don’t address your health concerns, you should seek the advice of a qualified professional.

More information:
Lowering cortisol 
Fish oils and stress
EFAs and stress
EFAs and mental health
Light and the endocrine system,

This self-care health hack is from Superfied expert nutritionist Mary Sharma

Find out more about the Superfied Way

Laura’s gut journey

My problematic gut

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who woke up one day, thinking their deepest desire was to talk about digestion. I certainly didn’t.

My name’s Laura Hanke and my journey into gut health began with the challenges I experienced as a child – some of which continued into adulthood.

For a long time, gut problems were the ‘story of my life’ – from being hospitalised with bad constipation as a child, to struggling with IBS, eczema, acne and infected skin as an adult. Not only did these ups and downs affect how I felt physically, they also really affected my confidence and my happiness.

I’ve grown up in the entertainment industry; as a singer, I’ve spent a lot of time in front of cameras, and I was always told that looks were important. I constantly thought about my appearance – “will I look bloated in this outfit?”, “will they be able to tell that my skin is bumpy?”, “when and where can I go to the bathroom?”, “is water available in case I’m constipated?”. Ironically, worrying about the problem, made the problem worse.

Travelling all roads to find comfort

After a LOT of trial and error, including trips to the GP, diets, prescriptions, no prescriptions, moisturisers, no moisturisers, standing on my head upside down praying to the Universe (a joke, but I felt like I had tried EVERYTHING),

I am pleased to say that I feel good in my gut, my skin and my health. Yes, I get the odd flare-up now and then, but it certainly doesn’t affect my confidence, my happiness, or my wellbeing.

When I got diagnosed with IBS, I just felt a bit ‘blah’. Great, I thought, now I can put a label on my gut problem – but how do I fix it?

I think general medicine is very useful, and many people find it helpful in dealing with digestion issues; however, my GP didn’t give me the tools I needed to solve my gut issues, nor the information to help me get to the root of the problem.

I hear this a lot with my clients as well – that they get their diagnosis but are unsure on how to deal with it on a daily basis.

I tried a gluten free diet, low FODMAP, dairy-free, low fat, low carb, paleo, juice cleanses – you name it.

There is no diet that’s ‘best’ for everyone – we’re all different

Finally, a happy gut

In the end, what helped me the most was switching to a plant-based diet (to reiterate: plant- based, not a processed vegan diet). However, there is no diet that’s ‘best’ for everyone – we’re all different and have different needs when it comes to our food. Besides, you can have the ‘best’ diet and still experience gut problems.

If your trigger is something else – like stress, anxiety, pollution, medication, toxins, etc. – the problem won’t go away if you only change your diet.

What I’ve learned

One very important thing that I have learned through my journey (and lots of research), is that our bodies and mind are connected – especially when it comes to the gut.

Have you ever experienced getting ‘butterflies in your stomach’, or blushed because you got embarrassed or shy? These are physical manifestations of emotions. I find it fascinating how our bodies and minds are so interlinked.

I believe the gut is connected to many more diseases than we think. The issue might not manifest in the gut, and the symptoms might not seem gut-related: auto-immune diseases, allergies, anxiety, depression, cancer, asthma, obesity, heart diseases – these can all be improved, if not cured, by looking at the gut.

When I researched more on the gut, it dawned on me how little, as a population, we know about how our daily choices affect our long-term health.

When I started looking at my own habits, I realised that I was constantly in ‘reactive’ mode – I watched Netflix before bed, looked at my phone first thing in the morning, and ate my lunch on the go, often rushing off to somewhere.

In other words, I spent my days in a more-or-less constant state of ‘fight or flight’ – as you can imagine, this isn’t a healthy response for your body to be in long-term.

Here’s something I talk a lot about now when I coach others: it’s not about surviving your day; it is about living your day. Don’t get me wrong, it is not easy to change your habits, but it’s about thinking about the bigger picture of your health.

I spent my days in a more- or-less constant state of ‘fight or flight’ 

Habits to treat a grumpy gut

It’s important we find a solution that we continue with for the rest of our life – rather than just fix the problem quickly only for it to reappear. Habits that serve our life and make us feel good, and they allow us to get on with our day and let our gut do its job without having to worry about it.

Things to ask yourself if you have a grumpy gut:
  • Do you start your day by looking at your phone?
  • Do you eat your lunch whilst sitting at your desk?
  • When was the last time you took a deep breath and actually felt your body?
  • When was the last time you took a break from your screen?
  • When you’re doing your weekly shop, do you pick the vegetables that come pre-packaged in plastic, or the ones with dirt on?
  • Do you use antibacterial cleaning products and soaps?
And things I wish I had known whilst going through my challenges:
  • Having support on your gut journey is massively important
  • You can’t just outsource the solution to your gut problem – finding what works for you specifically is key
  • One-off sessions with experts are of limited use
  • It can take a minimum of three months to find a solution based on your diagnosis, symptoms and wishes.

If I could give one tip to those who are reading this blog and want to improve their gut health – don’t look for a quick fix.

I’m sorry if that wasn’t the answer you were looking for, but the reality is that no fad diet or trick helped me or any of my clients.

Three tips for your gut journey
  1. Don’t compare yourself to ‘the average person’ or someone else with similar issues – you are a unique human, both in the literal and metaphorical sense
  2. Be curious about what works for YOU, and your life
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – there are so many resources and information out there

These days, we don’t suffer from a lack of information on gut health; that isn’t an issue – I believe the real challenge is knowing which information to take on onboard; when to implement what, why, and in what capacity.

And remember, you don’t need a diagnosis to want to better your gut health. We can all improve our gut. Unfortunately, it’s often only once we experience issues with something that we actually consider making a change. I hope that will change.

From my gut journey to yours

My journey has been a long one – but yours doesn’t have to be. I’ve researched, experimented and have taken qualifications on the subject. I’m now a gut coach – which is not something I would have thought was possible when I was starting my gut journey!

I am not a medical professional, and I never claim to cure anyone, but I am proud to say that every single person I’ve worked with has significantly improved their overall health – and some cured their gut problems by working with me for only a few months.

If you have any questions about your gut, or if you want to hear more about my coaching, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

This self-care experience has been shared by Laura Hanke, a gut coach and founder of It Starts From Within

Healing with homeopathy

What is Homeopathy?

Homeopathy is a mode of complementary medicine that draws on nature to heal a person, tackling the root cause of a health issue. It does this by using highly diluted natural substances to support the body in heal itself.

How popular is homeopathy?

Homeopathy is recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the second largest therapeutic system in use in the world.

Over thirty million people in Europe use homeopathic remedies and millions of others around the world. It is especially popular in India and South America.

Is Homeopathy safe?

Yes, homeopathy is gentle, safe and effective, there are very few, or no, side effects. Because the remedy and dose is tailored to you and because of the highly diluted pharmacy process of the prescriptions.

Did you know homeopathy has been in worldwide use for over 200 years?

The pioneer of modern homeopathy, a German doctor called Samuel Hahnemann, insisted that testing should be at the core of medical remedies. He was the pioneer of ‘double-blind’ trials used by conventional medicine today.

Homeopathy pioneered ‘double-blind’ trials used in medicine today

Homeopathy is a highly regulated practice, with practitioners having to train for 4 years and is available on the NHS.

Over the years it has grown in popularity in the UK and, like many things today, there are strongly divided opinions around its efficacy with plenty of negative press. It is hard to understand why, when it has such a wonderful track record; people go to homeopaths because of referrals, not because of big advertising and marketing campaigns.

Just because we do not fully understand something, we should not be so quick to judge it. It was not so long ago we all believed the world was flat. Is it that hard to believe in this day and age that there is more to life than just the Newtonian model of molecules and physical matter?

Quantum physics, for example has, and continues to, challenge and change conventional thinking about how we think of our world and energy behaviour. Energy drives everything in nature – molecules are held together by it; the universe is full of it; homeopathy works with it.

Mani Norland, Principal, School of Homeopathy

How does Homeopathy work?

Homeopathy is based on three fundamental principles:

1. Like cures like

The first principle of ‘like cures like’ dates back to Hippocrates and can be looked at in several ways.

One way is to assume that the body knows what it is doing, nature knows how to survive and will do its best to ensure the survival of the organism.

Symptoms are the body’s way of taking action to overcome illness. Some ‘thing’ has disturbed the body, it could be a virus, or continued stress levels at work, or being caught out in cold rain.

The body produces symptoms; this is its defence against illness; nature’s way of shaking the illness off. This healing response is automatic in living organisms; we term it the vital response. The similar medicine acts as a stimulus to the natural vital response, giving it the information, it needs to complete its healing work – ‘like cures like’.

A crude example may help to explain this. If your hand is cold and you want to warm it up, you can either plunge it in hot water (opposite) or into icy water (similar). By making the hand colder you stimulate the internal vital response to naturally heat the hand.

The principle of ‘like cures like’ works in small does; in large doses, ‘like increases like’. Homeopathy always operates at the micro level, using highly diluted remedies.

2. Single remedy

No matter how many symptoms are experienced, only one remedy is taken, and that remedy is aimed at all of the symptoms. For example, there is no such thing as a standard homeopathic flu remedy.

The remedy you take has to match your particular flu – where it occurs, what brings it on, what type of pain it is, what aggravates it, what makes it feel better, your state of mind and other symptoms you experience.

Everyone is unique; everyone experiences disease differently. Homeopathy asks ‘why do you have the flu?’; ‘how is it individualised in you?’; and ‘what is it an expression of?’ and then looks to treat this.

Just stopping flu symptoms with orthodox medicine is like putting tape over a warning light without getting to the source of the problem.

3. The minimum dose

Only enough is administered to initiate the healing process, which then carries on, driven by its own internal healing mission. Homeopathic medicines given in minimum doses stimulate the body’s vital response and do not produce the gross side effects that are so often the pitfall of conventional treatment.

Homeopathy works on all levels – physical, mental and emotional. It treats all the issues as one, it addresses the cause, not the symptoms. Homeopathy does not have treatments for diseases, it has remedies for people with diseases. It takes into account the whole person and their situation.

Prescribing the right homeopathic remedy takes a little more time and patience than conventional medicine. It often is a highly rewarding process – healing in itself. Just taking the time to talk about what is troubling you, and to hear yourself say it, shifts things and being truly listened to is often a rare occurrence in our busy lives.

Why is homeopathy so popular?

Homeopathy is a system of natural health care that there are number of reasons behind homeopathy’s remedies:

  • Homeopathic treatment works with your body’s own healing powers to bring about health and well being.
  • You are treated as an individual, not as a collection of disease labels.
  • Homeopathy treats all your symptoms at all levels of your being – spiritual, emotional, mental and physical and finds the ‘like cures like’ match for them.
  • Homoeopathically prepared remedies, providing the minimum dose, are gentle, subtle and powerful. They are non-addictive, and not tested on animals.

Most people come across homeopathy through a personal recommendation of someone who has experienced a positive outcome. If you have an ailment that is not responding to treatments, you can try a homeopathic approach and judge for yourself.

This guest article is written by Mani Norland

For more information on homeopathy, contact the School of Homeopathy

About Mani Norland, BA (Hons), DSH, PCH, RSHom
Mani is Principal of the School of Homeopathy and the School of Health. He has over 20 years of experience and has studied with many leading homeopaths including Jan Scholten, Dr Massimo Mangialavori, Dr Shachindra Joshi and Dr Rajan Sankaran. Mani is a founding member and vice chair of the 4Homeopathy, stands on the Events Panel for the Society of Homeopaths and is on the organising committee for Homeopathic Research Institute. He has lectured on homeopathy across the world, including the UK, Belgium, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Israel, Serbia, Australia, America, Canada, Greece and South Africa.


Spot and manage long COVID

What is long COVID and could you have it?

You may have or have had long COVID and not even been aware of it so it’s good to know the signs to manage recovery from it. Equally if a friend or family member has long COVID, there are some simple steps they can take to speed their recovery.

The technical name for long COVID is ‘Post Viral Fatigue’ and as the name suggests, mental and/or physical fatigue is one of the biggest tell-tale signs of it.

Is there a known reason why post-viral fatigue occurs?

Post Viral Fatigue can occur for several reasons. These include previous viral load, previous environmental exposure, genetic predisposition (such as having the APOE4 gene variant) as well as behavioural tendencies. Past exposure to viral infections may make individuals vulnerable to a heightened probability of long COVID, prior to COVID-19 exposure.

Former exposure to environmental stressors, such as mould or heavy metals, may also diminish the body’s post-infection resilience. Clinically, Post Viral Fatigue often occurs in high-achieving, multi-tasking, ‘adrenal-type’ individuals, who may have carried a burden of low-level chronic stress for an extended period, thus putting extra demands on their immune system.

This could be any body type but these characteristics are particularly strong amoung Red-Blue and Blue-Red body types and Blue body types generally.

What are the symptoms of Post Viral Fatigue?

The symptoms of Post Viral Fatigue are varied and include persistent fatigue, diffuse myalgia, depressive symptoms, and non-restorative sleep.

In the case of long COVID specifically, persistent breathlessness, issues with memory-recall and a lingering loss of taste and smell can occur. Some people have also reported altered bowel habits, stomach pains and cramps and recurring brain fog.

The technical name for long COVID is ‘Post Viral Fatigue’ 

What are the best foods for chronic fatigue?  

Well, there are a number of natural foods that will help to build your energy and stamina back up.

Whilst a nutritional therapist can provide very tailored nutritional interventions, you can and should start with a nutrient-dense diet, built around anti-inflammatory and antioxidant principles.

Following an antioxidant-rich diet such as the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in oily fish, olive oil, a variety of vegetables and pulses, can be a great initial step to reduce neurological and systemic inflammation post infection.

Processed convenience foods can be pro-inflammatory so it is often best to keep to simple, unprocessed meals which will not exacerbate any post-viral inflammation. Including a diverse range of colourful antioxidant-rich vegetables is optimal for recovery.

Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, can help to produce the master antioxidant glutathione, so are a useful vegetable subset to include a serving of daily. Blue body types should steam these vegetables well and add spices to help their weaker digestive systems.

A blood sugar imbalance is often a contributing issue in regulating energy in chronic fatigue and research indicates that furin, (the enzyme which allows COVID-19 to enter into the cells) is associated with hypertension (and obesity) (1). Therefore, regulating any blood sugar instability also serves to reduce furin levels and may minimise post-viral fatigue in long COVID.

I recommend that complete protein sources (pulses and grains, lean meats, oily fish, nuts and seeds) are included in every meal and lower sugar fruits such as berries are prioritised over higher sugar alternatives.  

B vitamin and magnesium-rich foods, (such as dark green leafy vegetables, wholegrains, eggs, lean red meats, nuts and seeds) can help with energy production. Mushrooms, (containing beta-glucans), and bone broths can support the innate and adaptive immune response.

To support gut permeability issues, I often recommend a (temporary) gluten-free diet and offer support to the gut microbiota (which is typically imbalanced in chronic fatigue scenarios), through prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods, such as kefir, sauerkraut, live yoghurt, miso and kimchi where suitable.

B vitamin and magnesium-rich foods can help with energy production

Which supplements may be beneficial for long COVID? 

The following supplements may be beneficial for long COVID symptoms, but they be should be taken under expert supervision and not used as self-medication:

Vitamin D:

An essential vitamin to support our immunity and a natural inflammatory which many of us are deficient in during the Winter months with reduced sun exposure.


Contains a rich supply of polyphenols, which have anti-viral properties and are helpful in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation of the respiratory tract.

Omega 3 (fish oil):

A natural anti-inflammatory and essential fatty acid which supports in reducing lung tissue inflammation.


Found within the anti-inflammatory spice, turmeric, which helps to reduce inflammatory cytokines post infection.

Vitamin C:

With anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, this vitamin is well-researched for its protective role against pneumonia in clinical trials (at 2000mg daily dosage) (2).

Green Tea Extract:

Green tea extract contains a catechin, Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate, ECCG, which has known anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and immunomodulating effects in autoimmune conditions. It is proposed to improve blood-clotting impairment associated with sepsis and lung fibrosis. (3)


Contains anti-viral and antioxidant properties. Adequate zinc levels are important for returning to pre-infectious levels of taste and smell post COVID-19 (as deficiency is often associated with loss of taste and smell). Supplementing with zinc can also be helpful in clearing up diarrhoea.


Popular in Chinese medicine for its antimicrobial, anti-motility and anti-secretory properties, Berberine has been shown in clinical studies to clear up diarrhoea post COVID-19 and support the intestinal mucosal barrier. (4)

What complementary therapies might help with Long Covid?

A sense of continued anxiety can often exist post Covid-19 and in response to the ongoing pandemic. If you’re suffering from this, then vagal nerve stimulation (e.g., Sensate) can be very useful at restoring calm or using a heart rate tracker for improving heart rate variability (e.g., HeartMath).

I often recommend yogic breathing exercises to stimulate calming parasympathetic nervous system activity. Deep, slow breathing practices are also excellent for restoring respiratory ventilation capacity, which may be diminished post COVID-19 infection.

As you start to feel physically stronger, you can start incremental, restorative movement daily (walking or simple yoga stretches), are good for lymphatic drainage. Prioritising good sleep hygiene habits may help general rest and recovery, by encouraging a minimum of 8 hours of optimal sleep each night.

How long before you start feeling better from Long Covid?

Typically, I have seen it can take up to 12 weeks post COVID-19 to regain your sense of taste and smell fully. Recovery length is very much connected to the individual’s health and physiological biomarkers at the time of infection and so can vary greatly.

A full recovery is possible so if you are struggling to recover a nutritional therapist may be of help.


  1. Chee Y, Tan S, Yeoh E, Chee Y, Tan S and Yeoh E (2020) Dissecting the interaction between COVID19 and diabetes mellitus, Journal of Diabetes Investigation. 11(5) pp. 1104-1114.
  2. Holford P, Carr A, Jovic T , Ali S , Whitaker I , Marik P and Smith D (7th December, 2020) Review: Vitamin C – an Adjunctive Therapy for Respiratory Infection, Sepsis and COVID-19 Nutrients12(12): 3760
  3. Menegazzi, M, Campagnari, R, Bertoldi, M, Crupi, R, Di Paola, R and Cuzzocrea, S, (July, 2020). Protective Effect of Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate (EGCG) in Diseases with Uncontrolled Immune Activation: Could Such a Scenario Be Helpful to Counteract COVID-19? International Journal of Molecular Science. 21(14): 5171
  4. Zhang, B. et al. (2020) Berberine reduces circulating inflammatory mediators in patients with severe COVID-19, British Journal of Surgery. 108(1), pp. e9-e11.

This self-care health hack is from Superfied expert nutritionist Karen Preece Smith

Find our more about the Superfied Way

Dealing with allergies

What is an allergy?

Allergies are commonplace in our modern lifestyles and the severity can range from a mild reaction all the way to a fatal outcome. At least 1 in 4 of us will have an allergy at some point in our life but that statistic is on the rise.

Allergies are historically more common in childhood and can disappear as children get older, but adults can also react to something with which they weren’t previously allergic to. A good example of that is a food allergy or hay fever.

So, what exactly is an allergy? Well, it’s an adverse (incorrect) reaction to something we have come into contact with which is ordinarily harmless. The offending item that caused an allergic reaction is called an allergen.

What are the most common allergies?

The most common form of an allergy tends to be:

  • Food – triggered by either a specific food or groups of food (as in the case of Coeliac disease)
  • Hay Fever (allergic rhinitis) – triggered by grass or pollen
  • Dust – triggered by dust mites
  • Pet hair – triggered by tiny flakes of skin in pet hair or fur
  • Insect bites
Why do people get an allergy?

Now we’ve all experienced an allergy either directly or through a friend or family member and it’s not pleasant.

The reaction is just the tip of the iceberg – it’s the visible manifestation of a more-involved process. By understanding what this process is, we can be better equipped to manage an allergy. It all starts with our immune system…

A quick overview of the immune system

We can consider our immune system as made up of two parts:

Innate immune system: This is what we’re born with (it’s based on our parents’ immunity and environmental factors at the time)

Acquired immune system: This is what we develop as we age through the creation of antibodies which are a response to threats to our normal biological operation

The two parts of our immune system work together to keep our defences strong. The two parts keep themselves in balance through proteins called ‘cytokines’ that are released by our immune cells, such as T-cells.

Our body decides which part of our immune system is best placed to deal with a threat to our health. If one side takes the lead, the other drops back in dealing with that threat.  As we can see then, the healthy functioning of our cells is critical to a healthy immune system.

Our constitution (body type) plays a major role in how strong our immune system is – some of us naturally have a stronger immune system than others.

The key to having the best possible immunity for our body type is keeping our body in its natural balance. When this isn’t the case and we move out of balance, then our immunity can drop.

Our constitution and lifestyle mean some of us have a lower defence level than others – so it takes less for us to tip out of balance which increases the chances of getting allergies.

1 in 4 of us will suffer from an allergy at some point in our life

What causes an allergy?

The biggest disruptor to normal functioning of our cells is…stress!

Whether the source of stress is mental or physical, the result is a breakdown in normal operations at a cellular level involving cytokines. This lowers immunity.

Our body will react to stress in distinct ways depending on the scale of it and our natural constitution.

If we know what to look for in terms of its response, it can help us stay well, including avoiding or minimising the impact of allergies. So, let’s look at how stress affects allergies specifically.

How does stress lead to allergies?

Stress impacts our digestive system which in turn impacts our immune system (70% of our immune cells are created in our gut). This impacts our ability to deal with allergens.

Stress causes our adrenals to work harder. They produce adrenaline to deal with the stress and the longer that goes on for, the more fatigued they become, slowing down our response to managing threats.

The process of stress pushes our body out of balance and our body is always working to rebalance itself – it will always give us the absolute best it can, even if that looks like it’s not doing you any favours at the time!

The three stages of stress on our body

There are three phases of how the body responds to stress:

  • Phase 1 – Reaction
    body produces adrenaline to power through the situation
  • Phase 2 – Adaption
    body continues to produce adrenaline to manage the ongoing situation
  • Phase 3 – Exhaustion
    adrenal fatigue sets in causing the body to be more susceptible to allergies due to the weakened adrenal response

Generally, the adrenal glands will stop allergic reactions. This is why adrenaline is given for an acute allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, and why those at risk of anaphylactic shock (from eating peanuts for example) carry an EpiPen around with them.

To a much lesser degree, the lack of adrenal support also contributes to milder allergies such as Hayfever and allergies to pet fur.

A food allergy is an example of the body adapting to stress. An intolerance to a specific food can result in an initial (mild) reaction which you may not notice or connect to a food item. Although this has stressed your body, your body will learn to adapt to that food – but this will slowly push it out of balance, increasingly depleting your energy.

Since stress is a trigger for allergies and our adrenals are responsible for managing stress, the health of our adrenals is important for managing allergies. If you’re continually stressed, you may be suffering from burnout and your adrenals could be overworked as a result.

The relationship between stress and allergies

Stress triggers adrenaline which results in more cortisol being produced (the stress hormone). This affects our cellular electrolyte balance, which in turn increases our blood sugar level (for more energy) and dehydrates us. Dehydration causes a number of health issues including allergic responses.

Mental or physical stress increases the chances of an allergy

From stress to allergy in 10 steps
  1. Stress results in our body producing more cortisol and in doing so changes our cellular status quo
  2. Potassium and magnesium levels (inside the cell) become depleted resulting in our cells holding on to more sodium and calcium (which are generally kept predominantly outside the cell)
  3. This cell mineral imbalance results in a drop in our blood sugar level
  4. Stress is a diuretic, and so water is lost from the body, together with potassium and magnesium. This leads to dehydration and increased acidity in the body
  5. Our body realises its dehydrated and, to correct the cellular imbalance, it takes water from wherever it can afford. This might be the bowel (leading to constipation), muscles (aches and pains) or digestive tract (heartburn) depending on our natural weak spots (determined by our body type). The neurotransmitter which regulates water balance in the body is histamine. Therefore, a loss of water from stress will lead to increased levels of histamine as the body tries to compensate.
  6. The falling blood sugar level resulting from the electrolyte imbalances trigger a craving for sweet foods, caffeine etc and makes the body more acidic
  7. This creates an environment for bad bacteria to breed in our gut, leading to a toxin build up which creates more work for the organs that are designed to eliminate toxins – like our liver, kidneys, lungs, colon and skin
  8. If our body is not as healthy as it should be, stress can cause ‘leaky gut’. This results in toxins getting into our bloodstream faster, requiring more effort from our body to get rid of them. This extra burden further lowers our immunity
  9. The more dehydrated we become, the more histamine our body produces
  10.  The more histamine we produce, the bigger our allergic response
What are the symptoms of an allergy?

You may have experienced some or all of the symptoms of an allergy, but you may not have connected the dots to other health conditions which can actually be a consequence of an ongoing allergy (immunity) problem.

The immediate signs of an allergy tend to fall into these camps:

  • Respiratory issues – sneezing, wheezing, breathing difficulties
  • Skin and eye complaints – itching, weeping skin, water eyes
  • Swelling – eyes, lips, tongue, face
  • Digestion problems – upset stomach, constipation
  • Shock – a severe allergic reaction can result in anaphylactic shock which can be life-threatening

The knock-on effects of an allergy to look out for are:

  • Weakness – fatigue, exhaustion
  • Aches and pains (due to dehydration)
  • Heartburn (due to dehydration)
  • Candida (due to increased acidity in the gut)
Can multiple allergies be connected?

The short answer is yes!

The greater the burden on our body (i.e., stress), and/or the poorer our digestive system, the lower our immunity and so the lower our tolerance threshold for allergens. The longer that goes on, the more things we become vulnerable to.

So, if you’ve suffered from an allergy and you haven’t manged your stress levels, or diet and lifestyle, the chances are you will develop more than one allergy.

Given that our elimination organs (liver, kidneys, lungs, colon and skin) play such a big part in allergies, if they’re not functioning properly, our ability to deal with allergens will be compromised.

A healthy liver is especially important here and is a common factor in having multiple allergies. That becomes a challenge because our modern lifestyle habits aren’t the best support for our liver!

What role does medication play in treating allergies?

Prescription or over-the-counter medication is plentiful and can help reduce allergy symptoms, but they are a temporary solution.

For example, antihistamine medication for hay fever may reduce your symptoms but they’re masking an underlying problem which can increase if left unchecked.

Allergy symptoms are actually your body telling you it’s out of balance and needs help. Relying on medications as a temporary fix ignores the underlying condition and can actually make the situation worse.

Steroids for example (whether topical or oral) push the toxins that your body is trying to eliminate back in! It’s like having rotting food in your kitchen and applying fly spray to keep the flies at bay!

Self-care tips for managing allergies

  1. Make lifestyle changes
    Stress is a major contributing factor to allergies so it’s vital to get a better work/life balance. Your immunity depends on it! And don’t forget that physical stress is still a form of stress – so if you are over-exercising and have a weak constitution, that can also be a factor

  2. Improve your digestion
    Our brain and gut is connected so our digestion can easily be a victim of stress. Keep your digestion strong with a diet suited to your body type and needs. As a rule of thumb, less processed foods and more veg (especially bitter leafy greens) is key. Remember bitter tasting foods are a great support for your liver

  3. Stay hydrated
    Dehydration sets off a chain reaction that results in impaired biological functions that pushes us out of our natural balance. The solution is simple – increase your water intake, especially when you’re stressed BUT that doesn’t necessarily mean drinking more water. Studies show that water can be better absorbed through water-rich foods like many fruits and vegetables than drinking it alone

  4. Drink less tea and coffee
    When we get stressed, we tend to reach for a cuppa, especially if we’re feeling exhausted! Both coffee and tea are stimulants, causing our adrenals to produce cortisol. Because they are diuretics (i.e. make us wee), they can actually dehydrate us and encourage more histamine production – meaning bigger allergic reactions!

  5. Identifying and removing any food triggers
    Common food triggers include wheat, potatoes, eggs, nuts, soya, shellfish and anything that contains gluten. You may have an intolerance to one or more of these items so it’s good to test each one. You can download and use the food sensitivity chart here
Important foods to minimise allergies

Being smart with a healthy diet is critical when you suffer from an allergy, even if it’s not a food related allergy. Eating to maintain your body’s natural balance is your best bet and to do this, the first step is to eat for your specific body type

If you don’t know what your body type is, you can either take the Superfied body type assessment or eat a diverse range of natural foods (of all colours and groups) as a general insurance policy.

Foods that contain all of the B vitamins but in particular, vitamins B5, B9 and B12 are especially useful for helping manage allergies. These include food like meats and fish and grains.  

Vitamin B12 and folic acid (vitamin B9) are especially useful in a biochemical process that supports a number of functions in our body including liver function, histamine metabolism and energy production, all of which help manage allergies. Vitamin B5 is particularly helpful for good adrenal function.

Eating foods which contain naturally occurring antihistamine are also beneficial. These include foods with high levels of vitamin C (such as citrus fruits, berries and peppers), quercetin (such as onions), or bromelain (such as pineapples).

As you can see, there’s more to allergies than meets the eye. If your allergy issues persist despite taking these steps or if you have long-standing allergy issues that are getting worse as you get older, you may benefit from speaking with a qualified expert to help you eleminate the root cause of the issue, professional food sensitivity testing may also be helpful as part of that.

More information:
NHS allergy information 
Allergy UK
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

This self-care health hack is from Superfied expert nutritionist Mary Sharma

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