Basil and Avocado Pate

When clients are following a Nutritionhelp yeast-free and sugar-free diet, they can sometimes lack inspiration for snacks – not least spreads and pates for dips, wholegrain crackers and yeast-free breads.

dip and veg

This pate recipe is packed with nutrients, has a fresh taste, and with the help of a food processor, can be made in just a couple of minutes. It is important to realise that a diet to support the balance of microbes in the gastrointestinal tract is not just about avoiding unhelpful foods (such as sugar, yeast, fermented foods, processed foods etc). It is also about including nutrient-rich foods, which can provide the body with valuable vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fibre, to support the body in all its various functions. This includes the immune system – which needs to be working well to bring intestinal yeasts under control.

So our key ingredients in this pate are basil, avocado, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Let’s look more closely at the benefits of these tasty foods.

Basil – This herb is exceptionally high in vitamin K, with good levels of manganese, copper and vitamin A. Research shows basil to have both anti-bacterial properties and also anti-inflammatory effects, potentially providing healing benefits and symptomatic relief for inflammatory conditions.


Avocado – This versatile fruit (don’t worry, it is not sweet, so allowed on the Nutritionhelp programme!) is high in pantothenic acid – otherwise known as vitamin B5. Clients with Nutritionhelp who have taken an adrenal lab test will be well acquainted with vitamin B5, since it is beneficial in supporting adrenal gland function. Long term stress? Eat foods high in the ‘anti-stress’ vitamin B5,  such as buckwheat, sunflower seeds, lentils and chickpeas, broccoli, brown rice and avocados. Avocados are also a source of fibre, vitamin k, folic acid, copper, potassium, vitamins B6, E and C.

Sunflower seeds are very rich in vitamin E and copper, with good levels of vitamin B1, phosphorus, manganese, selenium, magnesium and vitamin B6. Vitamin E is a major antioxidant in the body, helping to protect against heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and cleaning solvents, drugs and radiation. Vitamin E is important to immune function, particularly during times of oxidative stress (i.e. intense wear and tear on the body – illness, intense exercise, high-stress life experiences), and chronic viral illness.


Pumpkin seeds contain manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, copper and iron. Manganese is important in blood sugar control, energy metabolism and thyroid function. Zinc plays a critical role in foetal development, immune function and male sexual function. It also shows effectiveness in the treatment of acne and macular degeneration.

basil and avocado dip

Basil and Avocado Pate

  • 1 avocado, pealed and stone removed
  • 1 handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds – ground
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds – ground
  • Juice of 1/2 lemonpate blender
  • Black pepper to taste

Grind the seeds and add to the food processor with other ingredients. Whizz until everything is well combined. Different food processors will vary in effectiveness, so you may need to finish mashing the ingredients together by hand. You may find that your food processor works better with a larger quantity, in which case, just double the ingredients. The pate will keep in the fridge for several days, stored in a glass jar.

Next week I will post a recipe for a yeast-free and gluten-free courgette bread – perfect topped with this pate!

Nutritionhelp Statistics – Migraines

Continuing a review of Nutritionhelp statistics, collated by senior Director Robin White, I want to consider today the impact of a Nutritionhelp protocol on migraines and headaches.

Many dietary factors can contribute to headaches, so the highly nutritious foods that are encouraged within a Nutritionhelp plan, and the avoiding of processed foods, sugars and stimulants, may immediately affect headache frequency and intensity.

Refer back to the blog on PMS for details on how the statistics were gathered.

  • For clients with Headaches or migraines, 81% saw improvement, with 65% seeing considerable improvement.
  • For clients feeling ‘spacey’ or ‘unreal’, 92 % saw improvement, with 63% seeing considerable improvement.
  • For clients with dizziness and loss of balance, 82% saw some improvement, with 68% seeing considerable improvement.

As I mentioned, many factors can be playing a part in headaches, and supporting gut ecology by balancing the ratio of friendly bacteria and unhelpful yeasts, may be an important consideration. Likewise, ensuring that blood sugar levels are kept steady and constant is also important. Recommendations to this end, will include avoiding caffeine. You may have come across conflicting research in recent months over coffee, so I post here an article by Dr Mark Hyman, documenting research that shows just how unhelpful caffeine can be.

  1. The caffeine in coffee increases catecholamines, your stress hormones. The stress response elicits cortisol and increases insulin. Insulin increases inflammation, and this makes you feel lousy.
  2. Habituation to caffeine decreases insulin sensitivity, making it difficult for your cells to respond appropriately to blood sugar. High blood sugar levels lead to arterial deterioration and increased risk of mortality related to cardiovascular disease
  3. Unfiltered coffee has the highest amount of beneficial antioxidants yet also leaks the most diterpenes into your system. These diterpenes have been linked to higher levels of triglycerides, LDL and VLDL levels.
  4. The helpful chlorogenic acids that may delay glucose absorption in the intestine have also been shown to increase homocysteine levels — an indicator for increased risk of cardiovascular disease, which tends to be elevated in diabesity.
  5. The acidity of coffee is associated with digestive discomfort, indigestion, heart burn, GERD and dysbiosis (imbalances in your gut flora).
  6. Addiction is often an issue with coffee drinkers and makes it really difficult to rely on the body’s natural source of energy. Ask any coffee drinker about how it feels to withdraw from coffee, and you will mistake their story for that of a drug addict’s…
  7. Associative addictions trend with coffee — who doesn’t immediately think of warm, frothy sweet cream and sugar when they picture coffee? Surely the business of coffee has inspired a culture addicted to the sugary, fatty tastes of what has become more of a meal than a drink! That morning latte is the epitome of food lacking nutrition density yet packing energy!
  8. 5-HIA, an organic acid and component of the neurotransmitter serotonin (the happy chemical) seen in the urine tends to be elevated in coffee drinkers, which means they may be at risk for lower levels of serotonin synthesis in the brain. Serotonin is necessary for normal sleep, bowel function, mood, and energy levels. It is a vicious cycle, as caffeine can disrupt sleep and promote anxiety and depression. We all know someone who tends to be tired, wired and over-caffeinated!
  9. Elevated urinary excretion of important minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium have been noted in coffee drinkers. An imbalance in your electrolyte status can lead to serious systemic complications.
  10. Constituents in coffee can interfere with normal drug metabolism and detoxification in the liver, making it difficult to regulate the normal detoxification process in the liver. Another issue to be aware of with coffee intake is how certain medications such as levothyroxine (thyroid) as well as tricyclic antidepressants are poorly absorbed, making symptoms curiously worse for patients.

For references click here


Whether you have been diagnosed with ME or CFS, or whether you are just struggling to cope with the demands of each day, fatigue is something that is affecting an increasing number of people.

Many factors can influence energy levels, not least the balance or microbes in the gut. Gut ecology is so frequently involved in low energy that Nutritionhelp usually takes this as our starting place in making nutritional recommendations to clients.  However, a number of additional influences can also play a part, such as the health of the thyroid gland and the adrenal glands, environmental or food allergies, a build-up of heavy metals or toxins, chronic undiagnosed back-ground infections and blood sugar control. Nutritional therapy looks to discern if any of these factors are influencing a client’s health, and therefore may be mentioned within a tailor-made Nutritionhelp report if appropriate.  It may also be helpful to request contact with me to support you in applying any suggestions within your report in order to move forward.

However, an additional factor which affects the majority of clients, is their nutrient status. In understanding that refined white flour (bread, cakes, wraps, crackers and pasta) contains less than a quarter of the magnesium that is found in whole grain wheat flour it is easy to see how nutrients may be in low levels right across our Western diet. Many nutrients are needed in energy production, but continuing to consider Magnesium, Pharmacist Suzy Cohen writes:

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include sugar and chocolate cravings (I’m not making this up), cardiac arrhythmias, irritability, panic attacks, anxiety, muscle weakness or spasms, tearfulness, depression, personality changes, constipation, leg cramps and fatigue.

Your body needs magnesium all day long, some of it’s used to fuel biochemical reactions, you urinate some out and require some to make dopamine (a happy brain chemical).  Magnesium is leached by medications, something I’ve termed the “drug mugging” effect.  Over 200 medications deplete magnesium, among them antacids, antibiotics, digoxin, heartburn/reflux medications, birth control, methylphenidate, corticosteroids, almost all blood pressure medications and diuretics…. there are other muggers too, including coffee, black and green tea, green coffee bean extract and white refined sugar. Just having Celiac disease, Crohn’s, inflammatory bowel disease and chronic diarrhea can reduce magnesium.

So how do you know if you need magnesium, or any other nutrient? And if so, how much? This again is where Nutritionhelp can support you in recommending a tailor-made supplement programme. Nutritionhelp is virtually unique in the way that we formulate your nutritional supplement recommendations. Rather than taking a hit or miss approach, Nutritionhelp uses a symptoms analysis within the questionnaire to identify a client’s need for key nutrients and the specific levels required. In receiving the correct nutrients for energy production and to support the function of your body systems, you can ensure that you are fulfilling another part of the jig-saw in encouraging your health. Not sure if a Nutritionhelp report is right for you? Email me at with any queries.

What is Your Body Trying to Tell You? – Caffeine

Continuing the report from food Matters on 9 symptoms you shouldn’t ignore

You’re drinking too much caffeine…


One likely signal: Fatigue

Background: “Caffeine goes to an already low energy bank account and tries to lend it a little extra energy for the short term,” says Haas. “But it’s getting that energy from your own stores, meaning you have less and less on reserve, leaving you less able to generate your own energy on an ongoing basis.”

Caffeine works by stimulating the central nervous system. Specifically, the chemical gooses the adrenal glands into releasing hormones — namely cortisol and adrenaline that tell the body to go faster. The short-term result can be increased focus and better hand-eye coordination. But overdo caffeine on a regular basis and, eventually, the central nervous system runs out of gas. “If you don’t restore yourself with sleep, nutrients and relaxation, you’ll quickly get into a cycle of whipping a weakened horse,” says Haas.

Other signals: Jitters, agitation, insomnia, heartbeat irregularities, frequent urination

Don’t forget that caffeine is also in energy drinks, tea and some pain-killers. Nutritionhelp advises that clients come off all caffeine in order to minimise the load on the adrenal glands, encourage good blood sugar balance and to avoid the stimulant effect that can continue to play a role on gut ecology. For many people, the barrage of stimulants, a high sugar diet and the pressures of modern living will mean that not only is a diet change important, but it may be that the adrenal glands require more specific support.  An Adrenal Stress Profile lab test can be requested through a Nutritionhelp report, or request contact with one of our associate nutritionists if you feel that your adrenal glands need some encouragement.