The Food Hospital: eat your way to health

Dietician Lucy Jones offers diet tips to help with common conditions

New Channel 4 series The Food Hospital kicks off tonight (8pm), in which nutrition experts assess the results as foodstuffs are used as medicines. Do you suffer from any of these ailments? The show’s dietician Lucy Jones suggests the following…


High blood pressure

There are 12 million people diagnosed in the UK and a further 5.7 million who are probably undiagnosed. It increases the risk of heart attack, kidney disease and stroke. Three main nutrients help to lower blood pressure are:

Magnesium: found in whole grains, spinach, broccoli, courgettes, halibut, nuts and seeds.

Calcium: dairy foods, leafy green veg, almonds.

Potassium: helps flush excess salt from the body. potatoes, apricots, bananas and oranges have it. It’s also important to cut salt intake to 3g a day.

High cholesterol

The British Heart Foundation estimates that seven in ten adults are affected. It increases the risk of heart attack or stroke. Increasing your intake of these four types of food can lower cholesterol:

Soluble fibre: whole grains, oats, beans and pulses.

Tree nuts: a handful of unsalted pecans, almonds, walnuts or pistachios a day.

Plant stanol drinks and spreads: containing two to three grams of plant stanols a day can reduce cholesterol by ten to 15 per cent.

Soya protein: in soya milk, soya beans, soya mince and tofu.

Polycystic ovary syndrome

About five per cent of women suffer from PCOS, a condition in which the ovaries develop harmless cysts. This is often combined with irregular periods, difficulty becoming pregnant, weight gain and excessive hair growth. PCOS is thought to be linked to abnormal levels of insulin – the hormone that helps regulate blood-sugar levels. 

Keeping these stable is important and foods that help include wholemeal bread, porridge, most fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds. This can help regulate the menstrual cycle and achieve a healthy weight – the best treatment for PCOS.

Premenstrual syndrome

Most women suffer at least one of more than 100 commonly experienced symptoms, which include anxiety, mood swings, fluid retention and headaches.

Calcium: up to five portions of dairy foods a day throughout the cycle can have a big impact. 

Vitamin D, magnesium (from spinach, pumpkin seeds, salmon and pulses) and B vitamins (from bananas, chicken, trout and avocado) also help.



Cysteine, an amino acid in eggs, is helpful. Also rehydration agents such as water with added sugar and salt and carbs to raise blood sugar levels.