August 2016

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THE LOOK

We can learn a lot from studying our urine. When I was young, in Holland we used to have toilets with a little platform, so we could see what we had produced. I gather they still have them in Germany. Things are less clear with the British, more considerate, system. However, it can be useful to be aware of what’s going on.

If everything is normal and healthy, the colour of your urine should be a pale yellow to gold.
If it has no colour at all, you may have been drinking a lot of water or taking a diuretic [1]. But there are other possibilities.
Very dark honey coloured, orange or brown: you’re dehydrated and need to get more fluids right away. It could also warn of liver problems, or bile in your urine.
Pink or red: you’ve eaten carrots, blackberries, beets, or rhubarb. It can also be an effect of medications. If not, there may be blood in your urine, caused by kidney disease, a UTI (urinary tract infection, see below), prostate problems, or a tumor.
Bright yellow or orange: you may have had a lot of vitamin C or B2, carrots, beets – or it can be caused by medications.
Blue or green: shows food dye or medications, or, possibly, a few rare conditions.
Foamy or frothy: a sign of protein in your urine, which may mean you have kidney issues.
Cloudy urine suggests the presence of phosphates, possibly a precursor of kidney stones. Cloudiness can also indicate an infection. If it worsens and you feel burning or urgency, you may have a UTI – see below.

The SMELL

Ammonia means dehydration: drink!
Sweet-smelling urine may be a sign of diabetes or liver disease.
Foul smell can mean you have a UTI. Other symptoms are: burning during urination, fever, chills, and back pain.
Asparagus has its own aroma, but coffee and vitamin B6 supplements can also affect the urine.

THE FREQUENCY

If you’re constantly feeling the urge to go, without drinking any extra fluids, this can indicate: an overactive bladder, a UTI, interstitial cystitis, or diabetes. Urgency means you need to go right away, have difficulty holding it in, and wake up several times to use the bathroom.
For men, urgency and frequency could be symptoms of a bladder problem or, more commonly, an enlarged prostate. Prostate problems can also cause incomplete emptying of your bladder, so you still feel like you have to go again minutes later. This is not something to be ignored, and won’t go away on its own.
Increased frequency and urgency in women may be a symptom of infection, kidney stones, or a more serious condition.
Don’t assume drinking less water will lessen the trouble, for dehydration can cause urinary issues too.

Check with the doctor if you notice a change in your pee that doesn’t seem linked to new medications or to a recent meal – especially if it lasts more than a day or so, or if it comes with fever, back or side pain, vomiting, feeling very thirsty, or discharge.
For more detail, see
http://www.webmd.com/urinary-incontinence-oab/truth-about-urine
http://www.lifescript.com/health/centers/oab/articles/what_your_urine_says_about_your_health.aspx

INCONTINENCE

There is stress-, urge-, and overflow incontinence [2], each of which needs a slightly different approach.
For exercises and other natural remedies, see
http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20457139,00.html,
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-incontinence/basics/lifestyle-home-remedies/con-20037883, and
http://www.healthline.com/health/overactive-bladder/home-remedies

URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS

The risk of getting a UTI is increased if you don’t drink enough, have frequent baths (retrograde infection) or wait long to urinate; or if you are pregnant, menopausal or use a catheder. With diabetes the risk is worse, as a high sugar level in the urine is very favourable for bacteria.
Make sure you use cotton underwear, wipe from front to back, urinate before and after sexual activity and don’t wear tight clothes,.
Though most will want to take their UTIs straight to the doctor, there are things you can do yourself once you have it.
Drink plenty of water! Avoid drinks that may irritate your bladder: coffee, alcohol, and soft drinks containing citrus juices or caffeine. Unsweetened cranberry juice, blueberries, and vitamin C are excellent. For more food and drinks which help, see http://everydayroots.com/uti-remedies.
See also http://www.everydayhealth.com/urinary-tract-infections/helpful-home-remedies-for-urinary-tract-infections.aspx.

And since you ask, yes, unless you have kidney problems you can drink your own urine! See http://www.innerself.com/Health/urine.htm.

~~~~~

And some good news: Asda now sells boxes of imperfect in-season vegetables! One box  will feed a family of four for a week and costs £3.50 – 30% less than standard lines (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/feb/05/asda-puts-uks-first-supermarket-wonky-veg-box-on-sale).

EAT:
veg: aubergines, french/runner/broad beans, calabrese, cauli, cucumbers, fennel, chard, spinach (beet), summer squash, sweetcorn, globe artichokes, beet, carrots, courgettes, cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce, peas, peppers, radish, turnip, marrow, tomatoes, spring onions, salsify/scorzonera, samphire, rocket, watercress.
Cheap, free range good-for-you meat: rabbit and wood pigeon. Puffballs!
Fish is excellent at this time of year: mackerel, black bream, crab, grey mullet, trout, scallops, sea bass, flounder.

SOW:
Chinese cabbage, spring cabbage, chicory, kohl rabi, lettuce for harvesting November/December, quick variety peas, mooli (=white) and black radish, chard, spinach beet. Lamb’s lettuce (corn salad), rocket and especially land cress will survive the winter.
Perpetual spinach, (spinach beet, or leaf beet) tastes as good as ‘true’ spinach, is more forgiving of soil and weather and doesn’t go to seed so quickly. Sow now for winter/spring crop.
Early August only: chard, florence fennel, spring onions, turnip.

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 19.50.27BROAD BEAN and COURGETTE SALAD
4 courgettes, 200g podded broad beans (1kg unpodded weight), 2 tbsp olive oil, 10 walnut halves, thyme or savory.
For the vinaigrette: 1 tbsp cider vinegar, 50ml olive oil.
Whisk vinegar and oil with seasoning, set aside. Cook beans in boiling water for 3 mins. Drain, and if they are very old, you may like to remove the skins. Cut courgettes into four lengthways and slice into 5mm thick pieces. Heat oil, add courgettes. Cook, stirring, for 8 mins, until they are light golden. Add beans, thyme/savory and seasoning, cook for another 30 secs. Remove from heat and stir in vinaigrette while still warm. Serve warm with chopped walnuts on top, or cold with some lettuce leaves.

CHARD SOUP with SOUR CREAM (or use spinach)
200g Swiss chard, 3 tblsp sour cream, 1.5l water/stock, onion and/or garlic.
Saute onion (and garlic), add liquid, bring to the boil. Add finely chopped chard, cook till done, blitz if you like. Dilute the sour cream with some of the soup, mix all together, season.

BRAISED LETTUCE and PEAS for 2.
2 roundhead lettuces, 1 tblsp oil/butter, 3 thinly sliced shallots or 1 onion, 1 tblsp flour, 200ml stock/water, 300g (frozen) peas, (3 tblsp yoghurt or sour cream).
Remove lettuce cores, halve and thinly slice the leaves. Sauté the shallots, ab. 2 mins. Add flour, stir, ab. 30 secs. Add stock, bring to the boil. Stir in the lettuce and peas, cover, and simmer until they are both tender. (Stir in yoghurt or sour cream.) Season.

PARSLEY SALAD: served as a small sidedish to go with meat. Enough for 8 people, but the leftovers will keep.
100g Italian parsley, 2 tblsp fresh lemon juice, 2 tblsp lemon zest, 6 tblsp walnut oil, 2 tsp dark sesame oil, 1 tsp honey, salt, pepper, 3 tblsp toasted sesame seeds.
Discard parsley stems. Whisk together lemon juice, zest, walnut oil, sesame oil, honey, salt and pepper. Add parsley and sesame seeds and mix. Let sit for at least 30 mins so that flavors meld.

RUNNER BEAN STEW serves 2   
300g runner beans, 3 tblsp olive oil, 3 sliced garlic cloves, large pinch chilli flakes, 2 cloves; 2 x 400g tins plum tomato drained of juice or 400g tomatoes and some tomato puree; basil, grated cheese.
Destring beans and cut on the diagonal into 1 cm pieces. Heat olive oil in a frying pan, add garlic. Cook for 1-2 mins then add beans, potatoes, chilli and cloves. Cook for 2 mins then tip in the drained tomatoes. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes until beans are tender and the sauce is thick and rich. You may want to add a bit of water while this is cooking, but don’t add too much. Stir the basil through just before serving and season to taste. Serve with grain or pasta and grated cheese.

PASTA with SUMMER VEGETABLES, GOAT’S CHEESE and CHIVES
Cook pasta, and when it is almost ready add peas, broad beans, thinly sliced runner beans and thinly sliced carrots. Strain and immediately put back over the heat with a splash of the best olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper, snipped chive blossoms, small pieces of goat’s cheese and chopped chives or chervil. Stir briefly together.

SPICY CORN-SPINACH-TOMATO PANCAKE for ONE
ab. 50g cooked corn (from the cob, or a tin), 100g spinach, 130g tomatoes, small onion, 1 egg, 5ml water/milk, 30g flour, salt, pepper, butter/olive oil, chilli pepper (grated cheese).
Mix flour, egg, and liquid into a batter, add corn, season. Saute chopped onion with sliced chilli for 1-2 mins, add chopped tomatoes, fry for 2 mins. Add batter, spread it well over the mixture, cook very low without stirring. In the meanwhile, cook spinach, drain. When the top of the pancake mix is dry, turn it over, fry for 1 min. Put on a plate, spinach on top, plus some cheese if you like.

BOLTED LETTUCE (and the likes) MADE EDIBLE
If you have nothing much in the garden, try the following:
use one variety of greens, or a mix: bolted lettuce, beet greens, borage, spinach, oriental greens, rocket, cos etc, does not matter whether rough, bitter or not very pleasant. Dunk in water immediately – this is important! – after picking, and keep submerged for a few hours. Strain. Cut the leaves. Add some chopped onions and plenty of garlic if you like it. Also lots of herbs and spices – the leaves themselves will have hardly any flavour.
Saute in oil or butter. First, stirring, on quite a high fire to let them wilt; then turn it down. Simmer very gently, covered most of the time for half an hour or longer. Stir every so often. Add salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar. Also grated cheese if liked. Stir and heat through. Done! Nice, and not bitter at all, in spite of the title.

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PS
“Full-fat food can reduce obesity.”
“Leading public health bodies collude with food industry.”
“The recent Eatwell Guide from Public Health England was produced with a large number of people from the food and drinks industry.”
Says the independent professional organisation Public Health Collaboration.
Who knew? You did, if you read this blog regularly ….. See [3].


[1] Normally drinking too much does not matter, but if you go really over the top this can lead to hyponatremia, which occurs when someone drinks so much liquid the body’s balance of sodium to water goes off-kilter – a dangerous condition. Other risk factors for hyponatremia include some medications and medical conditions, such as kidney disease.
[2] health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/home-remedies/home-remedies-for-incontinence.htm
[3] http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/may/22/official-advice-to-eat-low-fat-diet-is-wrong-says-health-charity
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2010/nov/12/mcdonalds-pepsico-help-health-policy
https://inews.co.uk/essentials/news/health/obesity-row-public-health-policies-disastrous-consequences-says-charity/

Next month: forgetfulness or Alzheimer’s? 

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