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Do you find yourself rushing around during this busy time, with too much to do? Have you noticed, or tried to ignore little warning signs from your body that you’re pushing yourself too hard with too little rest? 

Or perhaps you are one of the many people who has already been knocked sideways by one of the many bugs going around and you’re hoping you can get back to normal without getting ill again?  You are not alone!

Winter can be a wonderful time to slow down and reflect on the year.  But often we are so busy with a long to-do list and lots of places to be that by the time that we get to those special events and gatherings, we are exhausted.  It can be tempting to comfort eat, drink a lot of alcohol and scrimp on the sleep. 

But although as a species we don’t hibernate, like most other animals in this climate we are built to slow down at this time of year to conserve energy.  And when we ignore what our body is telling us it needs, our immunity does tend to struggle to keep the bugs at bay.

Here are some tips to incorporate during this season to help support your immune system:

  • Elderberry – full of antioxidants, this fruit may help to immobilise some viruses, reducing the way that they spread and multiply.  Best taken as a syrup or a lozenge, berries should not be eaten raw.  There are many natural products on the market.
  • Vitamin D – most people benefit during the winter months from supplementation of at least 800IU (equivalent to 10 micrograms) of Vitamin D because there isn’t adequate light for us to produce enough at this time.  You can ask your GP for a test if you suspect that you are deficient, and some individuals have an increased requirement and may need a higher dose.
  • Vitamin C Rich Foods – include plenty of the following: Guavas, kiwi fruit, red peppers, strawberries, blackberries, oranges, papaya, broccoli, tomatoes and kale.
  • Water – keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water or teas.  Aim for at least two litres per day. Green tea, rosehip and lemon and ginger teas are all great choices.  Look out for teas which are formulated to support immunity too.
  • Sleep – it may not seem like you have enough time for it but it is one of your best defences against illness!  Aim to spend at least an hour away from screens before bed, do something restful such as reading or having a warm bath to improve sleep quality.
  • Zinc Rich Foods – zinc is another nutrient that is used more quickly when your immune system is at work.  The best sources are animal foods such as oysters, shellfish, beef, pork and chicken.  But good vegetarian sources include tofu (firm), pumpkin seeds, lentils, yogurt, oats and shiitake mushrooms.
  • Reduce sugar and alcohol – this may be a hard sell at this time of year.  But if you can minimise sugar and alcohol intake on the nights when you are home, this can help because these substances can put added stress on your immune system.
  • Mindfulness – this may seem like a strange one but our busy overworked minds can also play a part in our body’s reduced resistance to illness.  Taking a few minutes out to try a mindfulness exercise or listen to a short meditation track can help to instil a calmer state of mind.

If you would like to find out more about how nutritional therapy can support your health, visit or contact me at or on 07873 121616.

Victoria Bell, Nutritional Therapist


The sun came out for Croxley Revels and so did the crowds – what a great turn out it was for the day! The aroma of delicious food drifted over tantalisingly to the Backs To Basics stand, situated near the entrance and a steady flow of revellers came and went all day.

If you attended the event it was hard to miss our NLP practitioner Rakhee who wandered around with a foot in her hands to get the conversation going about foot health and diabetes awareness!  Our osteopath Anita was available all day to discuss all things related to osteopathy, and Tom our psychotherapist greeted many of you interested in mental health. Our newest team member Saira was very popular with many people intrigued by hypnotherapy and I was happy to answer questions about nutritional therapy.

A stroll amongst the other stalls gave us each a chance to meet many other local businesses, charities and organisations. Although we could only hear rather than see the entertainment coming from the other end of the festival, we each got a sneaky peek of some of the amazing performances by dozens of talented performers of all ages. The team really enjoyed saying hello to many happy clients as well as meeting lots of new faces. We hope to greet many of you at the clinic soon!

If you would like to try out any of our services, then visit the Backs to Basics website for further details, email us at or call us on 01923 710424. 

by Victoria Bell, Nutritional Therapist,


In recognition of Stress Awareness Month this April, here are a few nutritional strategies to help support your wellbeing:

  • When overwhelm hits, drink water. Taking time to fill a glass with water and have long slow sips may give you a chance to take a few deep breaths and you may notice just how thirsty you were!
  • Keep caffeine for the morning. And stick to one or two caffeinated drinks or less if you are prone to feeling jittery, or try calming green tea. Try decaffeinated alternatives or calming teas such as chamomile, rooibos, rose, lavender, or passionflower.
  • Swap your sugary treats. Refined sugar gives you an instant hit but then leaves you with an energy slump and creates inflammation which can contribute to anxiety and depression.  A couple of squares of 85% dark chocolate may hit the spot and some brands contain alternatives to refined sugar such as coconut nectar.  Other swaps to try include 2-3 dates or apple slices with almond butter, fresh berries with walnuts, or find a recipe for a paleo mugcake online which takes minutes to make.
  • Try cinnamon. If you regularly crave sugar, try adding cinnamon to porridge, smoothies or stews, sprinkle on lattes or drink cinnamon tea to curb your cravings.
  • Get your greens in. Including a broad range of fruits and vegetables of all colours will benefit your health overall, and green leafy vegetables are especially good sources of B vitamins including folate, as well as magnesium and iron which are all needed to support your nervous system.
  • Include plenty of essential fats. Oily fish and flax seed oil are well known sources of omega 3 fatty acids, essential for many bodily processes and vital for nervous system health.  You also need some omega 6 fats best sourced from nuts and seeds, and also omega 9 fat which is found in olive oil.  If you struggle to get 3 portions of oily fish in per week, consider a fish oil to meet your needs.
  • Eat whole grains over refined carbohydrates. As well as providing fibre for better digestion, they are great sources of slow release energy, B vitamins, zinc and magnesium.
  • Test for deficiencies. If you often feel like your moods or energy are below par, you can ask your GP for a blood test to check for any insufficiencies of vital nutrients such as iron, vitamin D and folate.  Ensuring that you are getting plenty of these nutrients in your diet or supplementing if you are deficient may help restore some balance to your health.
  • Consider supplementing B vitamins and magnesium. It is often best to get all your nutrients through consuming whole food but if you’re eating all the right foods and still have high stress levels or bouts of anxiety, you may have a higher requirement for B vitamins and magnesium.
  • Mind the alcohol. If you are holding out for a glass or three of wine or beer most evenings, then you are not alone!  Like sugar however, alcohol has an immediate relaxing effect for us but also depletes our bodies of hydration and nutrients such as zinc and B vitamins.  It reduces our sleep quality and leaves us fatigued and ill equipped to cope with the challenges of the following day, causing a vicious cycle.  Try keeping alcohol for once or twice a week in moderation and try some other relaxing strategies such as gentle yoga, meditation, reading, taking a bath, massage or a hobby such as colouring.

Victoria Bell is a CNM qualified Registered Nutritional Therapist. Find her on facebook at Victoria Bell Nutrition or at  To book an appointment with her call 07873 121616 or email

Victoria Bell, Nutritional Therapist


This week from 11 – 17 March 2019 is ‘Nutrition and Hydration Week’.  There are many ways to make sure you meet your daily need for water.  Why not try some of the following:

  • Use a visual reminder by taking a bottle of water with you and putting it in your eyeline or if you’re working at a desk next to your mouse, laptop or device.  To start a new habit, you could invest in a nice water bottle!  Glass or steel bottles are best because they don’t contain plastics but if you choose plastic, look for ones which don’t contain BPAs or phthalates.
  • Add some flavour and enjoy experimenting. As well as the more obvious lemon or lime, you could try adding strawberries, grapefruit, basil, rosemary or mint.  A drop of an essential oil such as orange or lemon extract makes water very refreshing too – look for oils safe for consumption.
  • Herbal teas are great – there are so many different types to try!  Some taste just as nice if you brew then chill them overnight and you can fill a jug with tea and sip throughout the day. Try adding some extra flavours as above or some ice on a warm day.
  • Caffeinated tea and coffee does still count, just aim to stick to one or two and try to drink an extra glass of water for each cup of coffee.
  • Lots of fruits and vegetables have a high water content and have the added bonus of fibre for digestion.  Think of juicy fruits such as oranges, peaches, melon, grapefruit and berries.  Good vegetable choices would be cucumber, celery, lettuce, courgette, tomatoes and peppers.
  • Soups and broths count too! Understandably the more watery versions provide more but generally they are great for hydration.
  • Coconut water is a great source of water and electrolytes but other surprising sources of water include milk, yogurt and nut milks.

Have fun experimenting!

If you would like to know more about Nutritional Therapy and how it may enhance your health, feel free to contact Victoria Bell by phone on 07873 121616 or email or find out more at

by Victoria Bell, Nutritional Therapist


As winter nears the end and the first signs of spring start to pop up all around, it’s natural that our thoughts start to turn towards warmer days.  Only a matter of weeks has passed since the indulgence of the festive season and for many people fending off the winter bugs continues to take its toll.  Meanwhile, messages come from all directions that we need to shed weight for that beach body, drop a dress size or try that detox diet or product.  But it’s worth understanding a few things before you put your body under any regimes designed to lose weight or “detox” quickly.

Detoxification is a natural process that our body goes through every second of our every day.  Our liver is the best known detoxification organ, with our skin, kidneys, lungs and bowels the best known secondary routes for excretion of waste.  But all the time, removal of waste products is occurring within and from every cell of our bodies so it is a never ending job!  Some toxins that we either consume, breathe in, or the body creates as breakdown products are not so easy for our liver and kidneys to make safe to excrete.  Our fat cells have an important role in storing these toxins, sealed away so that they cannot wreak havoc elsewhere.

When large quantities of fat are released quickly due to rapid weight loss, so also can be some of the toxins, now free to cause reactions which can be experienced as symptoms like flu, headaches, muscle aches, skin breakouts and diarrhoea.  And after all the effort put in to lose the weight, sustaining this weight loss is much more challenging than if the weight had been lost at a more gentler rate. It turns out that our bodies are very clever at restoring the set point of our weight by slowing our metabolism down.  Another factor to consider is that loss of water makes a significant contribution to the initial weight loss on the scales.

With all this in mind, there are nevertheless products designed to support the liver and detoxification channels.  When our body has undergone intense stress in the form of inflammatory foods, environmental toxins or even pathogenic stressors such as viruses, fungal, bacterial or parasitic infections, our use of vital nutrients and materials for repair is increased.  In these times we have a higher requirement for the building blocks for repair such as the amino acids found in proteins, and also essential fats, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other micronutrients.  Products that truly satisfy these needs (with a few exceptions such as milk thistle) often are not the ones that gain attention as a tool for weight loss and “detox”.  It is recommended to use these products under supervision of your GP and potentially a nutritional therapist.

So what can you do instead?  Firstly, don’t panic and think that you need to overhaul your entire diet and your kitchen overnight.  Little gradual changes may reap big rewards in the longer term and you’re more likely to keep up good habits as you start to feel better as a result.  Also for those who start now, there are plenty of weeks to go before that summer holiday!  Below are some ideas to consider:

  1. Hydrate. With nearly all of my clients, this tends to be top of my list.  By aiming for at least two litres of water a day including herbal teas, you are helping support the natural detox process, especially for your kidneys, skin and bowels.  As an additional plus, your body uses water to metabolise carbohydrates and fats too!
  2. Nourish. See how many different colours of fruit and vegetable you can get into your diet.  Aim for at least 7 a day and if you can manage 10 or more, even better!  All fruits and vegetables offer fibre, water, and a whole host of vitamins and minerals.  But each different colour also contains a range of different characteristic plant chemical compounds which have different benefits for the body such as antioxidant activity, supporting a healthy cardiovascular function and you guessed it – detoxification!  By including daily some leafy greens and vegetables from the brassica family too such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts you are also supplying nutrients which are known to be protective and support healthy removal of waste.
  3. Sustain. By providing your body with a good supply of the macronutrients – carbohydrates, fats and proteins – you will be giving your body the best chance to run itself efficiently.  Favour slow release carbohydrates such as whole grains (whole grain bread and pasta, oats, spelt, millet etc), brown rice, sweet potatoes and quinoa.  These will support energy without sudden peaks and dips during the day.  For fats, use oily fish, avocados, nuts, seeds and good quality oils such as flax, olive, coconut and avocado oil.  These help you feel full for longer and also are needed for countless functions in the body including immunity, cognitive and nerve function and also displace the more harmful trans and refined fats that make cell membranes rigid and unable to perform their functions so easily.  Proteins also help you to feel full, support blood sugar balance and are needed for repair and immunity.  Try good quality unprocessed meats, fish, eggs, beans, pulses, nuts and seeds.
  4. Sleep. Who would guess that doing “nothing” by taking to your bed would do so much for your waist line?  Getting 7-9 hours of good quality sleep each night helps to regulate your appetite, blood sugar control and even contributes to better food choices as being overtired often makes us reach for the sugary or caffeinated foods that are likely to give us the quick fix we need in the moment.  Adequate sleep also boosts immunity, your moods, memory and concentration.  Try keeping caffeine for earlier in the day and adopt a gentle wind down routine, avoiding screens, alcohol and sugar too close to bed time.  You could even treat yourself by adding some new accessories to make your bedroom a calm and inviting space or perhaps some comfy pjs, slippers, an eye mask or an evening foot bath or face mask!
  5. Move. You don’t need to commit to a punishing routine of high intensity workouts and hours of cardio a week (unless you want to!).  You are most like to stick to the activities that you enjoy.  Getting out into the fresh air early in the day also helps to regulate your sleep cycle and so will also improve your sleep.  Any activity is a great start, enlist a friend to join you or seek out local classes where you might meet people.  Go for variety and see what works for you.  Even a few minutes of gentle stretching before bed will make you feel good.
  6. Experiment. Try mixing up your routine with some new teas, recipes or trying new types of fruits and vegetables.  Dandelion and nettle teas are great for cleansing, green tea and chamomile help you stay focussed and calm while verbena, passionflower, oat flower and lime flower are great for sleep.  There are so many delicious teas out there to try and if you add two or three in a day, it may help you to lower your caffeine intake.
  7. Supplement.  But only if you feel the need.  You may wish to consider an all round multivitamin if you know that you have plenty to work on with your diet.  If you feel like you need some support for your liver, skin and digestion, you could try milk thistle in a tincture or tablet form, or even a tea.  Chlorella and spirulina are also great additions to help support detoxification and can be added in food form to smoothies and soups or taken in tablet form if you don’t enjoy the taste.
  8. Be mindful. Now is a great time to try new things and if you haven’t tried mindfulness or meditation yet, it’s never too late to give it a go!  And there are numerous other ways to explore how your mind works and if there are mental blockages getting in the way of a more balanced lifestyle.  As well as yoga, tai chi and qi gong, there are talking therapies to consider such as counselling, CBT, psychotherapy and NLP.  Any little steps you can take towards clearer thinking and calmness will do wonders for your health.

These are just a few of so many different measures that you could try to look after yourself. If you were to try one or two of these approaches each week, you will be well on the way to better habits and a healthier way of life.  See what works for you and enjoy the opportunity to try new things!

To find out more go to or contact Victoria Bell at to discuss personalised nutritional therapy sessions.

by Victoria Bell, Nutritional Therapist

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