22 Jan 2022

Longford's Laura Thompson answers your health questions

Sixteen pre-school services in Kildare awarded Healthy Ireland status

Two weeks ago in my column, I asked my readers if they had any health issues they would like advice on. There have been a number of questions to my inbox already and I hope to get to them all in due course but, for now, here are a couple to start us off.

Hi Laura, I am hoping you can help me. I have a baby girl who is 14 weeks old and is very constipated and extremely hard to wind. She was born by c-section and is bottle fed. I have tried various formulas but nothing seems to work, she is very uncomfortable and is sleeping okay in the day time but is up all night. I am at my wits end; any advice would be great. Very tired mammy!

Hi tired Mammy, I feel your pain. Sleep deprivation is pure torture. First of all, I would recommend giving your baby a good probiotic such as Bio Kult Infantatis, or Bio care Infantatis. Both are available in your local health food store or pharmacy.

When a baby is born by c-section and not breastfed, they tend to be lacking in the good bacteria which are really important for good digestion and a healthy immune system. Try her on this for a week or so and if she is still not improving it might be a good idea to switch her to formula for easy digestion; there are several available.

Also, as she is 14 weeks old, you could give her a small amount of apple juice - but make sure it is pure juice. Try her on two to four ounces. Another great help is some fennel tea; it needs to be quite warm but be careful not to give it to her too hot.

Hopefully this should do the trick but keep her on the probiotic for a couple of months to keep her gut healthy.

Best of luck!

Read also: Longford's Laura Thompson on the difference between food allergies and food intolerances

Hi Laura, I have recently been diagnosed with Haemochromatosis. I am in my fifties with high cholesterol. Any advice? Sean

Hi Sean, thanks for your question. Haemochromatosis affects one in 83 people and is one of the most common genetic conditions in Ireland. Many people suffering will have a venesection (also called phlebotomy). This is where the excess iron is removed.

However there are some dietary changes which will help to keep it under control and also help with your high cholesterol.

1. Reduce your consumption of red meat.
2. Be careful of fortified foods such as cereals.
3. Excess alcohol is not a good idea so try to drink moderately.
4. Avoid raw fish and shellfish.
5. Be careful with supplements that may contain iron and Vitamin C, which enhances the absorption of iron.
6. Cut back on citrus fruits, because they help us absorb iron.

Here are some foods that decrease the absorption of iron:

1. Eggs contain a phosphoprotein called phosvitin, this binds with iron, inhibiting its absorption. Several studies have shown that eggs can reduce iron absorption
2. Dairy: foods like yoghurt can decrease iron absorption (however, in your case use low fat as you have high cholesterol)
3. Tea: if you are having meat for your dinner, many experts recommend having a strong cup of black tea. The tannin in the tea helps stop iron absorption.
4. Phytates, which are found in soy protein and fibre. Wholegrains, walnuts (good for reducing cholesterol), almonds lentils and dried beans.
5. Polyphenols: these are compounds that are found in coffee, cocoa, peppermint and apples.
6. Spinach: many people assume that spinach is high in iron and should be avoided by people with haemochromatosis but in fact it contains oxalates which impair the absorption so is absolutely fine.

Finally, Sean, a healthy diet, low in processed foods and inclusive of wholegrains will really help you to stay well.

I recently came across some clinical research on the use of Turmeric to remove excess iron and the results were pretty amazing. Turmeric has a great many benefits, is a natural anti-inflammatory and a great antioxidant. Good luck!

Thanks for your questions; keep them coming. Email me at with your question.

Till next week,


New Year New You with Longford's Laura Thompson: Trust your gut with Healthy Gut Plan

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