Why is the Gut Referred to as “the Second Brain”?

Written by Glynis Barber on . Posted in Ageless - Articles, Health

The big discovery on the gut is how much it affects our mental health and behaviour and is often referred to as “the second brain”. It’s quite hard to get ones’ “brain” round that concept isn’t it? And having too many of the “bad guys” in your gut, can make you overweight! Ok, I bet that’s got your attention? There’s no doubt that the gut is hugely important and knowing as much about it as possible, can only be a good thing.

To that end, here is part 2 of nutritionist Fleur Borrelli’s important article on the gut. Parts 3 & 4 to follow in a few weeks.

 Our microbial world – Part Two

Why our Gut Microbes are so Important

Written by Glynis Barber on . Posted in Ageless - Articles, Health

Recent research has shown that the gut is crucial to good health. And it’s importance to every aspect of health, from  the immune system to our mental health, has been hugely underestimated.  The gut is teeming with bacteria and all sorts of microbes, some good, some bad. It is vital to get the balance right. Not enough of the good ones and you could suffer from food allergies and have a compromised immune system. 

This is such an important subject that I asked nutritionist Fleur Borrelli, to do an article explaining exactly how the gut works and why these bacteria that inhabit it are so important. It’s such a big subject, she came back with a 4 part article!

Here’s the first part.

Our microbial world – Part One

Top Five Natural Remedies for Immune Support

Written by Glynis Barber on . Posted in Ageless - Articles, Health

Taking control of one’s own health is a very empowering thing. As viruses spread at an alarming rate around the globe and people everywhere are having to take time off work and are brought down by colds and flu multiple times a year, it’s really important to keep your immune system strong and healthy. If you do succumb to a virus, the doctor can do very little to help. However, there is much you can do for yourself, both to prevent and cure. Besides keeping yourself as fit and healthy as possible through exercise and good nutrition, the remedies below, as prescribed by nutritionist Fleur Borrelli, can do much to help.

(For more info on any of the supplements or to order just click on the name.)

Woman sneezingIf you are suffering from any of the symptoms below, it may be a sign that your immune system needs a little help:

  • Frequent colds and sore throats
  • Slow recovery
  • Inability to shift a virus
  • Fatigue or chronic fatigue
  • Lack of get up and go
  • Sugar cravings
  • Irritability
  • Slow wound healing

Your immune system can be challenged during the winter months due to the darker days and fewer opportunities to be outside. Fortunately help is at hand with the many natural remedies that contain endless health giving properties. Use them alongside a healthy diet to combat the coughs and colds of the season.

1.    Beta Glucans

Beta glucans are complex fibres from the cell walls of plants, fungi, yeasts and bacteria. Take them throughout winter as a preventative measure to help boost your own natural immunity and to kick start the body’s own defence systems. Alternatively use them when you feel the first stirrings of an upper –respiratory tract infection.

2.    Pelargonium Sidoides

Pelargonium Sidoides, an evergreen perennial plant indigenous to South Africa, is a traditional herbal medicinal product. There are a number of active polyphenol compounds in the extract including coumarins, flavonoids and tannins, with anti-bacterial and immune-modulatory effects. Use it to help combat some of the symptoms associated with an upper-respiratory tract infection such as a blocked or runny nose or sore throat. Unlike antibiotics, bacteria do not become resistant to it and it can fight viruses too. 

3.    Lactoferrin

 Lactoferrin is an immune complex that is produced naturally in mother’s milk. It helps to maintain a proper level of “good” bacteria in the intestinal tract, while controlling the number of “bad” bacteria.  Because of its versatility, lactoferrin can also be used as an anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic. It may also play an important role in the support of allergic disorders such as asthma, rhinitis and atopic dermatitis due to its ability to reduce oxidative-stress induced hypersensitivity.

4.    Resveratrol

 Resveratrol is polyphenolic compound found in purple grapes, red wine and some berries. It improves energy levels by increasing energy production in cells and decreasing the number of free-radicals produced in the process. It also helps to support a healthy body composition by encouraging the breakdown of fat for energy. It might even increase longevity by improving the body’s metabolism, defence and repair processes. Take it through the winter to significantly boost your immune system and may be even to help burn some of those extra calories.

Glynis- Resveratrol has the added benefit of being one of the best anti-ageing supplements there are. I use this in my daily regime.

5.    Reduced Glutathione

Glutathione, an antioxidant, can be found in all living organisms and cells of the body. In fact the glutathione antioxidant system is one of the best defence mechanisms we have against free radical effect. Take it in the reduced form if you wish to stimulate your immune system to protect against viral infections and help shift some of the toxicity that has built up over the Christmas period. With age, illness, stress, fatigue and physical exertion, your body’s own production of glutathione can be inadequate.

By using natural agents to support your immune health, eating a diet rich in fresh whole foods and drinking plenty of water you will sail through winter.

Just click on any of the supplements to place an order.


The Health & Beauty Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Written by Glynis Barber on . Posted in Ageless - Articles, Health

I remember going through a phase a long time ago of drinking Apple cider vinegar in warm water every morning. I’d heard it was really good for you but had no idea why. I did it anyway but then got out of the habit. After reading what pharmacist Shabir Daya has to say about it, I think I’m going to start again. The benefits are so numerous it’s astonishing. 



Apple Cider Vinegar is perhaps one of the most chronicled natural remedies throughout human history.  The Babylonians, as far back as 5000 BC, used vinegar as a tonic, to add to food and as a pickling agent. Egyptian urns dating back to 3000 BC have been found to contain vinegar residues and Chinese historical documents dating back to 1200 BC featured the merits of vinegar’s benefits.

The health benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar are scientifically well founded and arise as a result of its source, apples.  Apples not only contain vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, but are also a great source of fibre.  Additionally, they contain virtually no fat or sodium.

High quality Apple Cider Vinegar is created from the fermentation of fresh, ripened apples and is especially potent if the fermentation process is left untouched.  Filtering and pasteurization can lead to poorer nutrient content. High quality unprocessed Apple Cider Vinegar not only contains all the goodness of apples but additionally contains enzymes and a spectrum of nutrients during the two fermentations required to turn apples into Apple Cider Vinegar.

The Health Benefits

People are often skeptical about the health benefits of something as common as Apple Cider Vinegar especially when it is used for so many ailments. Scientific research has in many cases proven that Apple Cider Vinegar does indeed help many concerns through a variety of its individual components. I am not going to go through all the reported benefits, however Apple Cider Vinegar does have some extraordinary benefits worth noting.

Apple Cider Vinegar can help restore normal acid levels in your digestive system and hence alleviate reflux and heartburn.  This sounds illogical because Apple Cider Vinegar is acidic in nature so why would you drink acid to counter hyperacidity. Although a full scientific study is yet to be carried out, it appears that taking a mildly acidic Apple Cider Vinegar diluted down helps to stop the acid producing cells from over-producing acid in much the same way as some of the proton pump inhibitors available on prescription.

Apple Cider Vinegar may help to protect our cells and their genetic material within our bodies. The results of several studies, although not completely conclusive, suggest that acetic acid in the vinegar could be the protective agent.  Some scientists seem to think that it is apple pectin and the polyphenols (antioxidants) which may be the protective compounds.  Irrespective of the compound, we know that Apple Cider Vinegar helps to protect our cells and this actually has a health and beauty aspect.

Preliminary studies have indicated that Apple Cider Vinegar can have a positive influence on maintaining healthy cholesterol levels in the body.  Pectin found in Apple Cider Vinegar is a soluble fibre that has been studied extensively for its ability to reduce high cholesterol significantly.

In the modern world, diabetes has become one of the leading causes of mortality due to the impact of elevated blood sugar levels.  Sugar destroys all the proteins within our bodies leading to the failure of the function of the glands including the heart, pancreas and so forth. This can lead to secondary diseases that are so common in diabetics.   Studies indicate that Apple Cider Vinegar, taken in conjunction with the last meal of the day, resulted in lower blood glucose levels the following morning.  It is theorized that the acetic acid found in Apple Cider Vinegar slows the digestion of starch leading to low sugar levels in the bloodstream.

The consequence of this property is significant and if you have a history of diabetes in the family or are already a type 2 diabetic, introducing Apple Cider Vinegar may be of real value in controlling your blood sugar levels especially because we know that drugs can only control blood sugar or even blood pressure often for a few hours only.  The typical way of taking Apple Cider Vinegar is to mix two teaspoons into a glass of water and to drink this before a major meal.

There are of course many other reported benefits of taking Apple Cider Vinegar and include:

Helps fight acne and spots.
When applied topically, it can help in eradicating warts.
Helps support the immune system to fight infection.
Relieves sunburn.
Encourages fat burning mode in the body and thus aids weight loss when used as part of a calorie controlled diet.
Relieves the pain of arthritis and gout.
Stimulates gastrointestinal motility to help those who are regularly constipated or have sluggish bowel movement.  Additionally, Apple Cider Vinegar cleanses the gut of harmful bacteria that may be responsible for a myriad of GI concerns.

These are just some of the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar, but it also has some other benefits that may surprise you as outlined below:

In an age when many of us use styling products that tend to build-up on the strands of hair, Apple Cider Vinegar when used as a rinse washes away this build-up helping to restore shinier hair, reducing frizz and sealing the cuticle of the hair.

Apple Cider Vinegar when mixed with water and used as a gargle helps to destroy the bacteria responsible for bad breath and also helps break down plaque.

Using a couple of teaspoons of Apple Cider Vinegar in the bath helps draw out toxins leaving behind clearer, toned and moisturized skin.

Many women claim that drinking Apple Cider Vinegar helps maintain youthful skin and this may be because it contains a large number of minerals in particular potassium.  Potassium is required to build new soft tissues along with several other nutrients such as hyaluronic acid.  Aside from ageing tissues, Apple Cider Vinegar may also slow down the appearance and proliferation of age spots.

Which Apple Cider Vinegar ?

Apple Cider Vinegar is made from freshly crushed apples that are put into wooden barrels to allow for natural fermentation. The fermentation results in a natural rich brown colour.  When you pour some liquid and look at it through light, there should be some floating brownish particles.  This compound is termed the “mother” and as the Apple Cider Vinegar ages, more of the “mother” accumulates in the bottom. All of Apple Cider Vinegar’s nutritional properties and its benefits are associated with this “mother” substance.

The Apple Cider Vinegar, which is widely available, is clear and devoid of the nutritional “mother’ substance.  These products have been filtered and distilled to remove any particles and are pasteurized which is a heat process that destroys all the goodness.  Whilst many people associate clear apple cider vinegar as being healthy, this simply is not the case because the product has been stripped of its nutritional content.

I believe that with all the great benefits that Apple Cider Vinegar has to offer, we should incorporate it into our daily healthy regimen.  Being a liquid, it is versatile and can be easily incorporated with food or as a stand-alone.  I prefer Organic Apple Cider Vinegar by Higher Nature because it contains the “mother” substance from organic apples which have not been grown using pesticides or insecticides.

This content is not intended to replace conventional medical treatment. Any suggestions made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare practitioner.

Winter Health

Written by Glynis Barber on . Posted in Ageless - Articles, Health

Winter is a tough time. Well not if you live in Los Angles or Cape Town or Miami or…… well loads of places but for most of Europe and many other places round the globe, winter is a time of colds, flu, low mood, and also weight gain. Why do these things happen and is there anything we can do to lessen the impact or even prevent it happening? 

Nutritionist, Fleur Borrelli, gives us a little biology lesson here that explains it all. And the good news? Yes there are natural and easy things to do that will help.

autumn leaves

Winter Health

Winter seems to challenge our capacity to live a ‘circadian-friendly’ life. Winter begins at the point at which the clocks are put back towards the end of October. The rationale for moving the clocks back and forth is that we make better use of the daylight hours and there is less demand for electricity usage and we therefore save energy. It was Benjamin Franklin who was said to have coined the proverb ‘Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.’

The problem is winter goes against our natural evolutionary rhythm! We now know through DNA evidence that we moved out of Africa around 60,000 years ago. It was while we were in Africa that we developed a ‘day/night’ rhythm because we would hunt during the day whilst the larger predators, lions and tigers, were asleep. We have kept this rhythm ever since. Whilst there have been some adaptations to living in the Northern Hemisphere, on the whole shorter daylight hours can bring disadvantages. This is because we have thirteen clock genes all regulated by the master clock gene in the brain – in the suprachiasmatic nucleus. All our cells, organs and tissues including our bones are dependent on us having exposure to a day- night rhythm. But in winter we tend to rely a lot more on artificial factors such as electricity and central heating and we have no exposure to sun. This can result in stress, depression and poor physiological health.


 Sleep disturbances

The pineal gland in the brain is there to sense light and darkness. When it senses darkness it produces melatonin. Melatonin regulates the ‘sleep-wake’ cycle by making us feel drowsy and ready for bed. It is also a ‘repair’ hormone because whilst we are asleep it acts as a free-radical scavenger as well as an immune system booster to counter the effects of inflammation. This ‘sleep-wake’ cycle can be disturbed particularly if we live in the city because we are potentially exposed to light twenty-four hours per day.   Not only is our sleep pattern disturbed but also the efficient functioning of every organ and system in our body including hormone balance and blood sugar control. Both insomnia and hypersomnia, sleeping too much, have been linked to coronary events. What we can do to support the production of melatonin is to ensure that at night we adopt a night-time rhythm to wind-down’. Ideally all computer and T.V. screens should be switched off an hour before bedtime and we read a book using low level lighting. Black-out blinds are also an effective tool to boost melatonin levels. Melatonin is produced from serotonin which in turn is produced from an amino acid, a building block of protein, called tryptophan. Food sources of tryptophan include chicken, turkey, banana, salmon, nuts and avocado. By eating some of these foods, particularly in the first part of the day, you may be improving not only your mood but also your sleep quality.


 Weight gain

Winter is associated with a tendency to put on weight. Typically in our evolutionary history winter was a time of compulsory fasting because of the lack of food. Our bodies were adequately prepared for this because we would be able to use stored fat and protein as an energy source. Nowadays winter is a time associated with high meal frequency and the overconsumption of high starchy carbohydrates such as cakes, bread and biscuits. Frequent intake of these high calorie foods will upset our blood sugar levels and weaken our immune system. We also become more sedentary over the winter period as it becomes less appealing to go out into the great outdoors. The less active we are the more prone we are to put on weight. This is made worse by our reliance on central heating. We are equipped to deal with the cold by shivering. What shivering does is activate what is known as brown adipose tissue (BAT) or ‘brown fat’. Brown fat, unlike white fat, is healthy because it gets broken down to produce heat in the body. The problem is that we are too reliant on central heating we lose our healthy brown fat and our ability to adjust to the cold in a process known as’ thermoregulation’. The trick to keeping your brown fat is by holding off for as long as possibly before turning the central heating on and only keeping it on for a small number of hours in the day. Certain nutrients such as green tea, the omega 3 fatty acid DHA and curcumin the active ingredient in turmeric can also support thermoregulation in winter.

(Glynis says – I religiously take omega 3, my favourite being Krill Oil and have recently started taking Curcumin as it is very anti-inflammatory. Most of us have some sort of inflammation to a greater or lesser degree which can cause health conditions as well as accelerated ageing, and we can’t have that can we??)


The winter blues

Depression and anxiety disorders tend to manifest in winter. Good mood depends on a number of substances being made available to the body and one of these is vitamin D. Vitamin D is formed from cholesterol when sunlight hits our skin. Vitamin D alongside DHA as well as vitamin A modulate genes responsible for brain structure, energy metabolism and brain function. In fact vitamin D affects the function of almost all organs in the brain and could be considered an anti-depressant. It is therefore advisable to supplement this vitamin during the winter months as well as eating a diet rich in oily fish and yellow and orange root vegetables such as squash and carrot.

(Glynis says – Vitamin D is one of the most important supplements to take and particularly in winter. I swear by it. It’s important to take Vitamin D3 along with Vitamin K2.  If you have to have a blood test for any reason, ask your doctor to include a vitamin D test. I take a high dosage in winter, 5,000 – 10,000 mg to keep my levels normal.)


Fleur Borrelli

What Are Bio-Identical Hormones?

Written by Glynis Barber on . Posted in Ageless - Articles, Health

Hormones! Like it or not, we women are a slave to them. They can play havoc with our lives and make us utterly miserable.  As they decline all sorts of mayhem ensues and did you know waning oestrogen levels ages us and contributes to wrinkly, dry skin? Life is so unfair isn’t? But……..all is not lost. There are things we can do to help at all stages of our lives (let’s not forget PMT!).

I myself began using Bio-Identical Hormones in my 40’s. I use it in the form of a cream that I rub into different body parts. It’s gentle and mild and I have always presumed safe. I think I was a bit ahead of my time as it wasn’t even available in the UK then and had to be purchased from Europe. It has recently become available here but should always be administered under the directions of a doctor. 

I am delighted that Dr Rajendra Sharma has written a piece on this important subject specially for Ageless.

Bee Sting Therapy

Written by Glynis Barber on . Posted in Ageless - Articles, Health

I was intrigued to hear that many people, Gwyneth Paltrow included, have been using some sort of bee therapy for health and beauty purposes. What on earth does this entail I wonder? Smothering skin in honey or maybe swallowing bee venom or maybe getting stung (yikes) for therapeutic purposes? I asked Tara Heath, based in Cailfornia, to find out what all the buzz is about? 

The answer to back pain?

Written by Glynis Barber on . Posted in Ageless - Articles, Health

Women with back acheAs you may know, a few months ago I put myself into a self imposed bootcamp. For 6 weeks I ate mostly protein, vegetables and a bit of fruit and worked out twice weekly with trainer Rhys Brooks.

I’ve always worked out, doing regular trips to the gym as well as yoga. The difference was that I had Rhys twice a week instead of once a month or so, when he would give me a program which I would follow until I saw him again. The only problem was that I used to cheat! If he had put 3 sets of an exercise, I would do 2 because I was in a hurry or feeling a bit tired. If he said do a bench press with 8kg weights, I would use 6kg because, well, because 8kg felt a bit heavy!

Working out with Rhys twice a week was a bit of a shock to the system. He is that odd mixture of being the nicest, sweetest, most lovely man while at the same time being the toughest trainer who shows no mercy. He gave me weights so heavy that I feared for my joints. I’ve always had lower back pain and it takes a lot of maintenance and care to keep it manageable. Same with my knees. I kept saying that I felt the weights were too heavy or the angle of the lift too awkward for my back to handle. However he insisted it would all be fine. And the amazing thing is, it was fine. As well as all the other many benefits from my bootcamp, the one I didn’t expect, was that my back and all my joints were going to vastly improve. It took me awhile to realise just how incredible this improvement actually was. 

I have a great physio who I usually visit every few weeks to keep my back from spasming up and causing pain. Since I began my bootcamp 4 months ago, I’ve been to see him once. And other than that one time, my back has been pain free. For the first time since I can remember. As anyone with back pain will understand, this is a joyous result.

What is sweating all about?

Written by Glynis Barber on . Posted in Ageless - Articles, Health

After recently looking at the difference between Bikram and Hot Yoga, both of which leave you sweating buckets, it seems only logical that we should look at sweat! Is a regular heavy sweat good for you? Does it really detoxify you as claimed? OR not at all as one of my hot yoga teachers boldly declared to the class after just having made us sweat so much that my towel was literally soaked! 

I asked nutritionist Fleur Borrelli to give us the sweaty low down.

(And guess what? That yoga teacher was wrong! Turns out sweating is more important than ever as the world has become more and more toxic due to man made chemical overload!)


Sauna Interior- is sweating good for you?Incredibly we have around two to four million sweat glands that become fully active once we reach puberty. Sweat glands are tubular structures of the skin that produce sweat. What may be surprising is that women may have more sweat glands than their male counterparts but men’s can certainly be more active(1)! Because sweat is produced when our autonomic nervous system is activated, it is not something we can consciously control. For some this may be an uncomfortable reality but it does have many benefits.

The smelly sweat comes from apocrine glands which are located in the scalp, armpits and groin. Apocrine sweat is a fat-infused liquid which is consumed by bacteria which causes the smell. Throughout evolution we have always coexisted with bacteria in mutually beneficial ways. This type of sweat tends to be emitted when we are under emotional distress and may as hunter gatherers have been a way of warning predators of our distinct presence. However some studies show that apocrine secretion is linked to our immune system and may be a way for a woman to be able to affirm that her selected mate is immunologically different from herself thereby offering the best chance for the survival of our species. In one such study, a group of female college students were given T-shirts worn by male students for two nights in a row and asked to select the T-shirt that smelled the best. They all chose T-shirts representing different immunological properties from their own (2).

Eccrine glands, on the other hand, can be found all over the body with the highest concentration in the palms of our hands and the soles of our feet. This type of sweat is made up of water and electrolytes such as sodium, chloride and potassium. The primary purpose of these glands is to help us to maintain a stable core body temperature – around 37 degrees celsius. This is all controlled by a thermostat in the brain called the hypothalamus. On a hot day, temperature receptors in the skin send signals to the hypothalamus to cool us down by increasing the sweat rate. It does this by increasing blood flow to the skin to stimulate sweat glands – all cleverly designed to stop us overheating. When we used to move around for food, this sweat would have remained on the surface of our skin evaporating to keep us cool.

Nowadays our chemical exposure is huge and sweating has never been so important.   It is a means of getting rid of some of our toxic load through the skin through a process known as detoxification. Despite the fact that in the last fifty years 50 million or so new chemicals have been created by man, detoxification, is not recognised by modern medicine as a process that needs supporting. It is a normal function of the body and something we naturally do via our liver, our kidneys and skin. However medical textbooks do not take into account that genetically we are back in the Stone Age and then we did not have the huge amounts of environmental toxins that are around now. We really do need to sweat and there is strong science to show how we can release heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead and even mercury through our skin(3)! And one particularly disruptive twenty-first century chemical, Bisphenol A, has also been found in sweat suggesting that sweating may be an effective means of getting rid of it (4).

All around the world, people since ancient times have used ‘sweat baths’ as a means of keeping clean. These have included Turkish baths, Finnish baths, saunas and steam rooms. Exercise too will bring a sweat on, particularly if done in a heated environment such as Bikram or hot yoga. One particular type of sauna is getting a lot of attention currently and that is Far Infrared Sauna (FIR) (5). Far infrared rays constitute the main energy source of the sun and warm our skin when we sit in it. The rays penetrate several centimetres below and heat up subcutaneous tissue. With enough rays on the skin, the skin will sweat and chemicals from the subcutaneous tissue will be mobilised and passed out. This is often a more gentle way of shifting chemicals for those who are very sensitive because it does not allow them to escape back into the bloodstream only to be trapped somewhere else.

Given the right conditions, we can literally sweat buckets. However it is important to remember that for that to happen safely, we need to be well hydrated in the first the place. For those who engage in endurance activity or hot yoga, it may also be prudent to drink a coconut water or add some electrolytes such as Elete into your water afterwards (6).

  1. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003218.htm
  2. http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/260/1359/245
  3. J Environ Public Health. 2012; 2012: 184745.
  4. J Environ Public Health. 2012;2012:185731.
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infrared_sauna.

Fleur Borrelli


Ways To Boost Your Immunity This Summer

Written by Glynis Barber on . Posted in Ageless - Articles, Health

Is it  just me or do more and more people seem to be getting colds and flu during the summer? And not just in the UK but everywhere. The last time I visited South Africa (during their summer) I was absolutely amazed at how many people were ill. It seemed like the entire population had a nasty virus whilst under a bright blue sunny sky.

Here, nutritionist Fleur Borrelli, explains what’s going on and what we can do to minimise the risk of falling prey to summer colds.