Inspirational teachers are a gift. I recently met up with one of my previous tutors, Breda Gajsek.

Some years ago, she drummed home the basic nutritional principles and their importance for good health.

Breda now runs her own training school for nutritional therapists in London. Her personal journey into nutritional science is remarkable.

Born in Slovenia, Breda was diagnosed with rheumatic heart fever at the age of 12 and classified as a "heart invalid".

She was not allowed to participate in any form of exercise and her treatment consisted of painful, monthly penicillin injections, which were to continue until she was 25.

After a year on the antibiotics, Breda stumbled upon an old cookery book in her grandmother's attic. One particular recommendation caught her eye: "Anyone with a heart condition should eat apples as they contain a substance that strengthens the heart muscle and purifies the blood."

The 13-year-old decided she had nothing to lose and promptly started eating between one to two pounds of apples daily.

Without telling her parents, she also missed her monthly penicillin injections until she was "found out" during a routine medical examination two years later.

The doctors were astounded, the girl was still alive even though she had discontinued her treatment.

After examining her and studying X-rays of her chest, they pronounced she was completely cured.

When Breda suggested the daily consumption of apples might have contributed to her recovery, the cardiologist laughed and declared "miracles do happen sometimes!"

Breda initially worked as a physiotherapist, then she decided to move to London, train in nutritional therapy and become a teacher.

Now she leads a hectic life as a college principal and remains as fit as a fiddle - still eating at least four apples a day.

When I asked her what the mysterious ingredient in apples might be, Breda said: "I always eat the whole apple - peel, pips and all - so it's probably the complete package containing antioxidants, fibre and pectin.

"Every year, scientists isolate exciting new compounds in plants and they are bound to find out what specifically benefits the heart. It's also important to remember the apples I was eating as a teenager were fresh and unsprayed."

Breda remains as enthusiastic as ever: "I'm constantly amazed when people tell me they can't afford a healthy diet but load their trolleys with huge bottles of coke and outsize packets of crisps.

"It's sad even young people blame all kinds of ailments on their 'age'. In my college, I emphasise the importance of diet and how powerful food can be, both in a positive and negative way. To be able to keep learning about nutrition and have control over your health is a rare privilege."

I fully agree with Breda and find it hard to see why nutritional remedies are still being dismissed as irrelevant at best and dangerous at worst. The traditional wisdom contained in grandma's cookbook should be required reading at medical school.

Contact Breda at the BCNH - UK College of Nutrition and Health in London. Call 020 7372 5740 or visit