Author Archives: Soza Health

Alcohol intake in our society

Written by Patricia Patterson-Vanegas

Alcohol is the third largest risk factor for ill health in the European Union and Europe has the highest unit per person intake of alcohol in the world*. Medical research has established that binge drinking and long-term drinking negatively affect most organs including the cardio-vascular system, the brain, liver and pancreas. It is also known that excessive alcohol contributes to many serious health conditions and has been shown to burden the immune
5978335-teen-alcohol-addiction-drunk-teens-with-vodka-bottlesystem and promote cancer.
Unfortunately, in the western culture, physical reactions such as ‘throwing-up’, headache, general malaise and even temporary loss of consciousness have been normalised as humorous consequences of an excessive intake of alcohol, and not recognised as the body’s urgent attempt to counter intoxication. Alcohol intake can have a damaging effect on the health and wellbeing of individuals and families.



Interestingly, research conducted by Age UK** suggests that middle class people over the age of 50 not only consume greater levels of alcohol but also fail to recognise the harm that increasing alcohol consumption can cause.


*   The need for an EU strategy to reduce healthcare costs related to alcohol use (2015), published online by the journal BJM –
** Harmful Drinking Among Middle-Class, Over-50s: The Hidden Phenomenon, Age    UK (2015) published online by the journal BJM Open.

The effects of flying on your body


Sleeping on a plane

Most people will be aware of the effects of jet lag, and might know that with alcohol, one in the air is three on the ground. Deep vein thrombosis has received a lot of press recently. There are however some other medical topics that are less well known. This article seeks to educate the reader to allow them to take informed decisions about flying, the risk and how to take preventative measures.

Factors to look out for

UV light

Pilots and flight crews are twice as likely as the general population to develop skin cancer. (Melanoma)

Although plane windows are designed to resist UV-B radiation, an average of 54% UV-A radiation was found to come through. In the cockpit during a two-hour morning flight, intensities of UV-A reached almost 10 times the recommended exposure limit. People who fly regularly are advised to close the window blinds as much as possible, or to wear sunscreen with UV-A protection and get regular health checks by a dermatologist and/or health screening. Eating cooked tomatoes will provide your recommended dose of lycopene, an antioxidant that helps to protect the skin from UV rays.

Dried air

Dried air contributes to increased incidence of upper respiratory infection. The natural human defense system against colds consists of a layer of thin mucus that traps viruses and bacteria and moves them from the nose and throat to destruction by acids in the stomach. When the air is dry, the mucus becomes too thick to be effectively moved from the nose and throat to the stomach. This leaves more viruses and bacteria to cause upper respiratory tract infections.

Cold transmission

The risk of catching a cold increases between 15 and 113 times the normal level on the ground, with the variation mainly due to the time of year and the population studied. The increase in cold risk has been attributed to lower perfusion of outside air in the aircraft as well as high proximity to other passengers. Aircraft with full passenger loads provide the lowest volume of air per person of any public space. Drier air in aircraft can also increase the incidence of respiratory tract infections.


The effect of alcohol at altitude is heightened due to the pressure in the cabin being less than the atmospheric pressure on the ground. Alcohol dehydrates you. Always drink double the quantity of water to alcoholic drinks consumed.


Caffeine dehydrates you. Drink twice the volume of water as compared to any caffeinated drinks to counter this.

Fizzy drinks

Fizzy drinks are acidic and de-hydrate you. Avoid on flights and if you do drink them, drink twice the volume of water to compensate.


Water is the key of life. Water transports nutrients and oxygen into cells, assists with metabolism, detoxifies, protects vital organs and helps them to absorb nutrients, regulates body temperature, protects and moisturizes joints, to mention but a few of its many benefits. Lack of water compromises

every vital function of the body. A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger short-term memory issues, trouble with basic brain functions and difficulty in focusing. This is particularly important in a fatiguing drying environment such as on a plane.

  • How much & when 1.5 to 2 litres per day
  • How and when to take it? Sipped throughout the day
  • How long for? Ongoing

Foods to choose / foods to avoid

A healthy body strives for balance and the right pH in the blood is essential for its vital functions. All foods and drinks are either alkaline-forming or acid-forming after they are digested. Consuming too much of one and not enough of the other, will eventually throw your body out of balance.

Be aware of the acid and alkalising quality of foods in the body and try to combine them in ways that will benefit your overall health. A general guiding rule is that the more natural the state of the food, the higher the alkaline content.

The following list provides a general guideline of foods classified according to their effect on the pH of the body:

Highly Acidic

Wheat, gluten-flour bread, gluten-flour pasta, breakfast cereals, chickpeas, dried peas, animal protein, dairy (eggs, cheese, milk, butter, yoghurt, ghee, peanut butter), alcohol, beer, black tea, coffee, cola drinks, sweetened fruit juice, soda water, sugar, artificial sweeteners, jam, jelly, mustard.

Mildly acidic

Wholemeal bread, wholemeal pasta, amaranth, brown rice, buckwheat, hemp protein, lentils, oats, quinoa, rice, rye, spelt, wild rice, freshwater wild fish, ocean fish, oysters, liver, organ meats, borage oil, evening primrose oil, flax seed oil, marine lipids, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, flax oil/ udo’s oil, nuts, seeds, fresh natural juice, ketchup, mayonnaise.


The vast majority of vegetables, barley, millet, beans and legumes, lima bean, soya beans/tofu, butter beans, white haricot beans, mung beans, distilled water, almond milk, rice milk, goat’s milk, soya milk, fresh coconut water, apple cider vinegar, soy lecithin, most herbs and spices.

Highly Alkaline

The vast majority of fruit, sprouts (alfalfa, chia seed, etc.), grasses (alfalfa, wheatgrass, etc.), almonds, coconut oil, olive oil, alkaline water (pH 9.5), fresh vegetable drinks, lemon water, fresh herbs, raw honey, Himalayan salts, cayenne pepper.


Sitting immobile for long periods on long haul flights can increase the risk blood clots and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Flying at altitude exacerbates the risk as compared to sitting for long periods on the ground. This may be caused by lower oxygen at higher altitudes while flying. In addition to this, dried air in the cabin and lower cabin pressure at high altitudes contribute to dehydration and concentrating of the blood. Increased blood viscosity can contribute to blood clots. This effect is worsened by the dehydrating effects of alcohol and inadequate consumption of fluids. Frequent flyers have been found to be 3.65 times more likely to develop DVT. The risk of developing a clot was found to be 1 in 5,944 flights. If more than one flight was taken within a four-week window, the risk of clotting was slightly increased. Hydration and mobility are key to preventing thrombosis, in addition supplements such as milk thistle can help to thin the blood and prevent clots along side pharmaceuticals such as aspirin.

Lack of oxygen at altitude

At altitude the amount of oxygen available for you to breathe is reduced. This can affect oxygen distribution to the heart, brain and other tissues where it is needed for adequate function. You may be at risk of suboptimal organ function if you suffer from heart, lung or circulation problems.


As aircraft pressure decreases upon take off the air in the lungs needs to escape. If this cannot occur due to an acute asthma attack that closes the airway between the mouth/nose and the lungs, the air has nowhere to go and can cause a bubble which in extreme cases can puncture the lung. Asthmatics are advised to ensure they are free of symptoms before flying and use their medications more freely before travel.

Illness or ear infections

As aircraft pressure decreases upon take off the air in the middle ear needs to escape, this occurs through the Eustachian tube that connects your ear to your sinuses. Air travels more easily out through this tube than back in and when landing air needs to get back into the middle ear and this often requires the Valsalva maneuver (breathing out while holding the nose and closing the mouth to ‘pop the ears’). When suffering from a cold the eustatian tube may be blocked and pressure equalisation may be difficult, it is therefore not advisable to fly with a sinus or inner ear infection.

Jet Lag Prevention and Treatment

Symptoms of jet lag include disturbed sleep, increased fatigue, loss of concentration, and increased irritability during the new daytime, and yet difficulties in initiating and maintaining sleep at night. Generally, the intensity of symptoms varies in relation to the number of time zones crossed and the direction of travel. (Travelling east is worse than west). Jet lag is caused by the de-synchronisation between various body rhythms and environmental rhythms. It takes several days for the external factors to shift the phase of the body clock from the original time zone to your destination time zone. Behavioural changes to your regime in the few days before your flight and the few days after arrival can help alleviate jet lag. The most important cue is light:

  • For a westward flight, to stay awake while it is daylight at the destination and to try to sleep when it gets dark at the destination.
  • For an eastward flight, at your destination it is advisable to be awake but avoid bright light in the morning, and to be outdoors as much as possible in the afternoon
  • Taking melatonin is another option, this is a hormone that stimulates the body’s sleep cycle and can help to adjust your body clock faster, 2-5 mg melatonin taken at bedtime after arrival is effective at reducing jet lag and may be worth repeating for the next two to four days.
  • Flying itself can be very tiring, if you are prone to tiredness or fatigue the effects of jet lag can be more pronounced. General exercise in the weeks up to a flight can help reduce fatigue.


  • You should remain hydrated while flying by taking in bottled water and electrolytes, it is also advisable that you forgo drinking alcohol and caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, fizzy drinks) when flying as these can dehydrate you as well.
  • Adopt the time-zone of your destination as soon as you board your flight. Make sure you get sunlight in the afternoon and avoid bright lights in the morning.
  • Drink water, and avoid alcohol, caffeine and fizzy drinks, including diet drinks.
  • If you have a cold try to avoid passing it to others, sufferers from asthma or other medical conditions should remember to take medication before and during a flight.
  • Select a flight on a Boeing 787 if you can. Oxygen levels are higher, the ‘altitude’ of the cabin is lower, and the electrochromic tinted windows can block a higher proportion of UVA and UVB light. These improvements should provide a healthier inflight environment.
  • Move around the aircraft as much as you can during flight.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is often looked upon by natural wellness enthusiasts as a panacea for all good things. Taking a tablespoon or two of it every day is said to cure everything from gout to allergies and more. It’s said that it is important that the apple cider vinegar you take be organic and have the “mother” in it to be of most benefit to you. The mother is a stringy-looking ball of matter that either floats at the top or settles at the bottom of a bottle of the vinegar and is the source of its sour, fermented taste.

Many companies are now creating apple cider vinegar drinks that contain fruity flavors to mask the sometimes harsh flavor the vinegar has on its own. The age of apple cider vinegar as a health tonic is truly here, and while there is only anecdotal evidence that it actually cures many of the things it is said to, there is also plenty of evidence of definite health benefits in other areas.

Here are some of the best documented and strongest health benefits of apple cider vinegar.

  1. It Helps Ease Stomach Cramps and Diarrhea

This is a proven apple cider vinegar cure. The probiotics in the vinegar help ease diarrhea and the pectins from the apples in the vinegar ease stomach cramps. Mix a tablespoon or two in water or your favorite juice to get the best results.

  1. It Prevents Indigestion

Another proven health benefit is its ability to stop indigestion before it starts. Simply mix 1 teaspoon of honey and 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a cup of water and sip it slowly a half hour before you eat something you know will cause you indigestion. You’ll be surprised that you feel fine after eating!

  1. It Helps Ease Nighttime Leg Cramps

This old folk remedy has a long history of proof to its effectiveness. Simply mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with honey to taste before going to bed and drink it slowly. Those nighttime cramps shouldn’t bother you anymore. Do this every night before bed for continuing results.

  1. It Drains Your Sinuses

Do you have a stuffy nose due to allergies or some other reason? Fix it with a teaspoon of straight apple cider vinegar in a cup of water. The harshness of drinking the vinegar without any flavoring will help drain your sinuses and clear your nose.

  1. It Helps Energize You

Apple cider vinegar is excellent for beating exhaustion. The amino acids it contains counteract the buildup of lactic acid you can get after exercising or other intense physical activity. It’s also full of electrolytes that help eliminate that tired feeling. Electrolytes are the same thing that are in sugary sports drinks. A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in chilled water has the same energizing effect without the sugar and artificial colors and flavors.

Apple cider vinegar is also good for treating heartburn, easing the pain of arthritis, whitening teeth, and much, much more. There are entire books written on the miracle of apple cider vinegar. Even though many of its supposed benefits only have folklore to back them up, there is enough concrete evidence of its many benefits that many people take it every day as a general health tonic. Anyone looking to maximize their health could definitely benefit from a daily dose of this amazing amber liquid.

Food additives – Potato starch

Potato starch is starch extracted from potatoes. The cells of the root tubers of the potato plant contain starch grains (leucoplasts). To extract the starch, the potatoes are crushed; the starch grains are released from the destroyed cells. The starch is then washed out and dried to powder.

Potato starch

Potato starch is a very refined starch, containing minimal protein or fat. This gives the powder a clear white colour, and the cooked starch typical characteristics of neutral taste, good clarity, high binding strength, long texture and a minimal tendency to foaming or yellowing of the solution.

Potato starch contains approximately 800 ppm phosphate bound to the starch; this increases the viscosity and gives the solution a slightly anionic character, a low gelatinisation temperature (approximately 140 °F or 60 °C) and high swelling power.

Starch derivatives are used in many recipes, for example in noodles, wine gums, cocktail nuts, potato chips, hot dog sausages, bakery cream and instant soups and sauces, in gluten-free recipes in kosher foods for Passover and in Asian cuisine. In pastry, e.g. sponge cake, it is used to keep the cake moist and give a soft texture. It is also occasionally used in the preparation of pre-packed grated cheese, to reduce sweating and binding.

It is also used in technical applications as wallpaper adhesive, for textile finishing and textile sizing, in paper coating and sizing and as an adhesive in paper sacks and gummed tape.