Zinc – the “polite mineral” that could change your health

fruit-1254253_1920As two-times Nobel prize winner Dr Linus Pauling said: “You could
trace every disease and every ailment to a mineral deficiency.”  If that’s the case then Zinc would be the crucial mineral to supplement, in my opinion. My lovely kinesiology teacher, Rosie Dowbekin, describes Zinc as ‘the polite mineral’. Zinc says to calcium and magnesium: “no, you go first – you’re so important”. Yet Zinc is found in every tissue of our body and is required for 2,000 of our bodies’ vital processes including protein and carbohydrate metabolism, normal immune function, healthy hair, skin and nails and brain function.

A report was published in the USA in 1936 which showed that soil was becoming depleted of minerals as a result of increasingly intensive farming. (If soil is depleted then the vegetables and fruits grown in it are, and so is the grass and silage eaten by livestock.) Imagine what has happened to the soil in the last 80 years! We have had to resort to massive quantities of chemicals and genetic modification to produce our food. So, not only do we not eat enough natural foods, but they’re lacking minerals anyway.

Most people rely on refined and processed foods as the staples of their diet – bread, pasta, pizza, biscuits, cakes, etc. Refined (white) flour has had a large percentage of its mineral content removed – up to 77% of Zinc. We are simply not eating anywhere near five a day of vegetables – it’s more like 2 on average (and for some kids, scarily – none). Stress, pollution, food additives, alcohol and smoking all deplete minerals or prevent their absorption.

How do you increase your Zinc levels?

I recommend this food-state supplement from Cytoplan – I take one a day. If you suspect you have been depleted for a long time, it could take six or even 12 months of supplementation. If you want to keep topped up by eating better, then buy organic vegetables and fruit – they not only have less chemicals on them but they are grown in a natural way that respects and maintains soil health, which in turn grows more nutritional food. I get a weekly box delivery from Goldhill Organics – I love the freshness, quality and taste. Oysters and other fresh seafood are very high in Zinc but so are green vegetables, nuts and seeds, as well as meat.

My gluten free article in Menu magazine

I was delighted to write a contribution to this beautiful Dorset foodie magazine. I wanted to highlight all the positives of gluten free food and how delicious it can be. I chose three Dorset gluten free food heroes and it was great to speak to them – I was really inspired by their stories and how they run their food businesses.


So, what’s the problem with gluten?

I’m being interviewed by BBC Radio Solent tomorrow morning about a gluten free article I’ve written for Menu Dorset magazine. I’m gathering my thoughts and preparing for their questions …

Close up of ripe harvested ears of wheat, a staple ingredient in cooking
Close up of ripe harvested ears of wheat. Photo Credit: www.freefoodphotos.com

What is gluten?

It’s a type of protein found in wheat, rye and barley. It can cause an immune response in the gut – in those who have coeliac disease and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity.

What is coeliac disease?

I don’t like calling it a disease because you can’t catch it! If you are diagnosed as coeliac you have an autoimmune response to any trace of gluten in your food. Basically, your small intestine’s immune system starts to attack the cells in the lining of its own walls – destroying the crucial villi – the finger-like protrusions where a lot of absorption of nutrients takes place. Without them you don’t absorb your food’s nutrition properly. I was diagnosed because I was very, very anaemic as a baby. 

If you have that autoimmune response and the lining of your intestine is destroyed, you become very sensitive to lots of other things too. For example, I can’t eat the gliadin in oats, lactose in milk products or even drink coffee because it contains a protein that cross-reacts with gluten.

Why do so many people have a problem with gluten?

If you’re not allergic or intolerant then that’s great (I believe quite a lot of us are although we may not know it’s the cause of symptoms). Even if you can tolerate it, the problem is we’re being exposed to too much of it because:

  1. We’re eating more gluten-containing foods than we’ve ever eaten before – most peoples’ daily diet consists of breakfast cereal or toast, sandwiches, cakes, biscuits and pizza or pasta for dinner. That’s not a varied diet and it completely lacks the vital vitamins, minerals and other nutrients such as fibre and ‘good’ fats contained in vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, etc.

    Overhead view of a rounded crusty loaf of cob bread on a wooden bread board incised with the word Bread
    Photo credit: www.freefoodphotos.com

2.  The amount of gluten in modern wheat has increased as a result of genetic modification/farming methods compared to ancient varieties

3.   Extra gluten is added to bread so that the production time can be massively reduced. Gluten is released and activated when bread is proven, kneaded and rested. High speed bread making methods don’t do that so they add gluten to make it sticky.

Is it just gluten that’s the problem with grains?

No, grains contain other anti-nutrients that cause us problems. Phytic acid, lectins, gliadin – they can all cause digestive issues and other symptoms such as headaches, joint pains, even depression. The only grain I really eat now is rice because I’ve always loved it. I always soak it in plenty of cold water with a squeeze of lemon or cider vinegar for as long as possible to remove these other toxins. 

Also, refined grains (white wheat flour particularly) cause an insulin spike when they’re eaten. We are increasingly overweight, obese and insulin-resistant or outright diabetic. I believe this is down to our reliance on refined grains in our diet, as well as sugar, of course.

Hungry Planet: What the world eats

Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio travelled to 24 different countries and photographed 30 families surrounded by their weekly food supply. The results were published in this book: Hungry Planet and I find it fascinating. Here’s a link to an article where you can see some of the photos.

Particularly surprising to me is that, on the whole, I would much rather eat what the ‘poorer’ families (those who spend less than $100 per week) are eating! I especially like the look of the Ecuador family’s food for just $32.

I’m really shocked to see absolutely no vegetables whatsoever in the American families’ diets. There’s a tiny amount of fruit and I think some bagged salad hiding in there but that’s it for fresh produce. It’s also interesting to see that mostly it’s the men and boys who are overweight – I’d say it’s more often women here in the UK. And where there are chubby kids, there are bottles and bottles of fizzy drinks, breakfast cereals, crisps and fast food such as huge pizzas.

Is it just me or do the German family get through rather a lot of alcohol for two adults in a week?! And just compare their food quantity with the quantity and number of family members of the Mali family below. Fascinating stuff! There are also teaching resources available here.

Thank You for Listening!

me - headshotThis blog is the beginning of my ‘telos’ (inspired by Dr John Demartini – thank you). My gut instinct (pardon the pun) about my purpose in life is it definitely has to do with food. Read more about why food is so important to me here.
I’m not entirely sure yet where I’m going with this but, as they say, every journey starts with the first step. I know I love writing and teaching and that I’d really like to help other people with food problems. Right now, I’m studying Systematic Kinesiology and Nutritional Therapy, as well as learning lots about NLP. As someone said to me recently: “if you’re not evolving, you’re dying” – yep! So, thank you for reading about my little evolution …

Follow my Facebook page for food photos, recipes and more.