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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Chocolate, Ice, Salty Food, Lettuce, Tomatoes , Carrots - Evaulate your addictions

what your food cravings say about your health

Lettuce craving: Elsie Campbell found out that she had cancer when she realised she couldn't get enough lettuce
Lettuce craving: Elsie Campbell found out that she had cancer when she realised she couldn't get enough lettuce
Cheese on toast, a square of dark chocolate, or a spicy tikka masala — we all get cravings for particular foods.
But while these are often to do with your mood at that moment, a long-term craving could be more significant.  
The Mail this week reported the story of 59-year-old Elsie Campbell, whose breast cancer was detected after she developed an unusual appetite for salad.
The mother-of-two was eating four lettuces a day, prompting her husband Jim, a research scientist, to investigate.
He worked out that lettuce contains a natural chemical called sulforaphane, which can attack cancer cells and which breast cancer sufferers often lack.
He correctly guessed his wife’s addiction meant she was suffering from the disease. Jim has since set up question myhealth.com, providing information about other odd symptoms.
So, what could your craving be trying to  tell you?
A craving for Marmite could mean you are suffering from heart arrhythmia or atrial fibrillation
A craving for Marmite could mean you are suffering from heart arrhythmia or atrial fibrillation
Possible ailment: Heart arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation
Marmite is rich in B-vitamins, which are essential for breaking down carbohydrates for energy. B-vitamins also maintain nerves, skin and brain.
There are eight different types of B-vitamin and a deficiency of any one of them can result in a range of conditions, including heart palpitations, arrhythmia or fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat), chronic fatigue, irritability and poor concentration.
So love it or loathe it, a craving for Marmite could be your body’s way of trying to make up for a deficiency.
Possible ailment: Thyroid or adrenal gland problems
Shona Wilkinson, head nutritionist at The Nutri Centre, London, says: ‘Severe stress affects the adrenal glands.
‘If someone is very stressed, they stop producing the correct amounts of hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol and aldosterone. This can disrupt the salt balance in the body and explains why some people have salt cravings.’
It might also mean you have an iodine deficiency. This is linked to thyroid problems, says Jeannette Jackson, a nutritional biochemist.
An underactive thyroid can cause lethargy, constipation, weight gain and depression, while an overactive thyroid can cause weight loss, anxiety and irregular periods.
Cravings for ice could point to possible anaemia
Cravings for ice could point to possible anaemia
Possible ailment: Anaemia
A craving for ice may be linked to anaemia, which is when the body lacks red blood cells because it does not have enough iron to produce them.
The main symptom is a lack of energy. According to scientists at the Mayo Clinic in America, people crave ice as a way of numbing the tongue pain and inflammation that can be caused by anaemia.
Research has found ice tastes good to some people who are iron deficient, although why is not clear.
Possible ailment: Calcium deficiency
Dying for a can of something fizzy? There could be an unexpected reason. It may be due to craving calcium, says Shona Wilkinson.
‘Fizzy drinks leach calcium from the bones, so if the body needs calcium quickly, a fizzy drink is a quick way to get some released into the body.
‘This is very detrimental for bone health, however, so it’s much better to get your calcium from dark green leafy vegetables or low-fat dairy products.’
Possible ailment: Parkinson's, zinc deficiency
Zinc is important for your skin, as it promotes healing. It has also been linked to our sense of taste.
When zinc was given to rats deficient in the mineral, it increased the number of taste buds on the tongue.
So it’s thought that if you’re craving strong flavours such as curry, you may be deficient in zinc and as a result not have a good supply of fully functioning tastebuds.
Possible ailments for the apparent addiction to curry include Parkinson's and zinc deficiency
Possible ailments for the apparent addiction to curry include Parkinson's and zinc deficiency
Low zinc has also been linked to conditions including Parkinson’s. According to scientists at the National Institute of Health and Science on Ageing in Italy, this is because Parkinson’s disease has been linked to oxidative stress — damage to the body’s cells from the toxins found in everyday life.
Zinc is thought to protect against this damage, and so a lack of it may hamper the cells’ ability to deal with these poisons. Smoking has also been shown to deplete zinc, which may be why some smokers also crave intensely flavoured foods.
Possible ailment: depression
People who cut back on carbs are susceptible to mood swings, according to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston.
High-protein diets can lower levels of the feelgood hormone serotonin, but carbs raise them, helping you feel happy and combating low mood.
A desire to eat soil could point to low minerals in pregnancy or coeliac disease
A desire to eat soil could point to low minerals in pregnancy or coeliac disease
Possible ailment: Low minerals in pregnancy, Coeliac disease
A craving for soil or clay is part of a syndrome called pica, sometimes seen in pregnant women, explains dietitian Nigel Denby, of grub4life.co.uk.
‘If a pregnant woman has pica, it suggests she may need more of the minerals found in her particular craving. Iron tends to be the most craved mineral at this time. Iron, copper, magnesium and zinc are all found in soil, for example,’ he says.
Other research published in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition has linked pica to undiagnosed coeliac disease (a malfunctioning gut) in children and it has also been linked to poor diet and heavy periods.
Possible ailment: Depression, stress, premenstrual tension
So why do you crave the sweet stuff when you’re working on a deadline or feeling down in the dumps?
Well, compounds found in chocolate called alkaloids may help to raise the levels of serotonin — the mood-boosting hormone.
Chocolate is also a source of magnesium and B-vitamins, which are used by the body in energy production, meaning it can help give us energy when we’re under pressure.
Chocolate can point to problems of depression, stress or premenstrual tension
Chocolate can point to problems of depression, stress or premenstrual tension
A small Swiss study in the Journal of Proteome Research found eating 40g of dark chocolate every day for two weeks reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol in people who’d been battling with pressures.
Craving chocolate may also be a sign of premenstrual tension. Some women also find themselves lacking in magnesium at this time, and chocolate is high in the mineral, says Shona Wilkinson.
Magnesium is vital for everything from your nerves to your bones and immune system.

Original article here

Saved by lettuce

Hubby spotted salad craving revealed cancer

LUCKY Elsie Campbell beat cancer — thanks to her addiction to LETTUCE.

She was baffled when she suddenly found herself scoffing up to four of them a day.
Her husband Jim, who is a forensic scientist, realised there must be a reason for the craving and suspected her body was seeking vital nutrients it needed.
Then to his horror he discovered that lettuce and other green veg contain the compound sulforaphane — and a lack of it can be associated with breast cancer.
He urged Elsie to see a doctor and her tests were positive. She DID have breast cancer. But thanks to the early diagnosis she recovered after an op.
Elsie, 59, said: "I'd always eaten lettuce in salads but suddenly I just couldn't get enough of it.


"I could eat three or four a day. I'd eat a whole iceberg lettuce at work and sit on the bus on the way home, thinking about eating more.
"I'd get home and cut one into chunks and eat it like a watermelon.
"I knew something wasn't quite right."
She went on: "Jim started investigating which nutrients and minerals were found in lettuce. He realised they were the same ones your body can be deprived of when it is fighting cancer.
"Not long afterwards, I discovered a small dimple on my breast and my doctor confirmed I had cancer."
She added: "Strangely, as soon as the lump was removed, the craving vanished. I haven't wanted to eat a lettuce leaf since."
Elsie's lettuce addiction was the condition known as Pica, where the body craves unusual and sometimes inedible things. It is usually pregnant women who have it.
Jim said at their Derby home: "As a scientist, I know that everything has a cause and effect.

Cured ... Elsie with hubby Jim
Cured ... Elsie with hubby Jim
"Elsie didn't start eating lettuce for no reason, so I did some research. "I discovered lettuce contains sulforaphane, which can attack cancer cells. I suggested that she visited the doctor.
"We were devastated when the doctors told us she had cancer but relieved that they managed to catch it so early.
"Her lettuce cravings were a warning sign."
Elsie added: "I was so lucky Jim spotted the signs when he did — my lettuce addiction probably saved my life."
Jim has now developed a website, questionmyhealth.com, so people can check if they have a nutrient deficiency that could be a sign of illness.

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