Monthly Archives: July 2016

Stories I loved this week.

church

Do you ever feel like you’ve lost your mojo? You know, that spark, the get-up and go that pushes you forward into new projects and new work. I’m starting to feel like I need to issue a missing person’s report for my mojo. I was hoping that a bit of rest and relaxation after my exam would rejuvenate me, and it has, but my pep has still not returned. Any advice?

I’m hoping that a change of scenery will do the trick and have organised some day trips. Oh and the holiday research has begun again in earnest. There’s nothing like a bit of Mediterranean sun to put things into perspective and bring back the mojo and energy.

I love this day in a life from one of the top researchers and new mum at Google: “It’s almost like somehow I give myself the permission self-consciously to just do the piece that I think is the most important because I know I can’t do it all.” (NY Mag)

10 facts you probably don’t know about sunscreen. I really want to try the Beauty Counter sunscreen – when will they start to sell it in the UK! (Well + Good)

I really want to try some of these ice lolly recipes! (Bon Appetit)

An objective view on ‘clean eating’ and ‘dirty food’ (i.e burgers, kebabs, chicken, etc). (The Guardian)

Baking successfully with alternative flours. The almond flour lemon yoghurt cake looks particularly good. (goop)

Get rid of your back up plan. (The Pool)

8 women talk about how they feel about their post-baby bodies. (The Cut)

Photo by Matthieu Million

You and your gut.

balanca

What is gut bacteria, the gut microbiome and why are people talking about it so much lately? There has been a huge surge of interest recently, off the back of a lot more research into this area.

Here are some of the key terms that are worth knowing:

1. Gut:  Your gut is your oesophagus, stomach, colon, appendix, large and small intestine. Basically, it’s one long tube that runs from your mouth to your anus.

Did you know that this is where 70% of your immune system is – yes, 70%! You have immune cells in your gut that communicate with other immune cells in your body to make sure things are running properly. If they aren’t, these immune cells will activate cytokines (inflammation markers) to tell the brain and other immune cells that there are suspicious microbes, toxins and food proteins that need to be removed so they don’t go into the blood or the lymph. So if you’re sensitive to gluten and you’ve had some food with gluten in it, the immune cells in your gut will let your brain’s immune cells know that everything isn’t copacetic and something has to be done immediately.

Your gut is also connected to your brain. You know that feeling of butterflies you get in your stomach? That’s your gut  communicating with your brain via the enteric nervous system and the vagus nerve.

2. Enteric Nervous System: Did you know that there is a communication pathway between your gut and your brain? And it’s completely separate to the central nervous system – it acts like a second brain. A second brain! It has a number of functions, including  controlling the signals of fullness that go from your stomach to your brain, how quickly you digest food and even certain emotional responses. Interestingly, the enteric nervous system is also connected to the autonomic nervous system – you know, fight or flight (sympathetic) and rest and relaxation (parasympathetic) – so the way you eat – rushed and on the go vs. relaxed and evenly – can have a real effect on how well you digest your food.

3. Gut Microbiome / Bacteria: This is important. In a nutshell, your gut microbiome is the balance between good and bad bacteria in your stomach, colon, large and small intestine. And not to worry, the good and bad bacteria in your gut are a good thing – there are billions of them and they are part of you! The key is to have a balance of the two, and that the bad don’t dominate the good.  For example, we all have the Streptococcus and H.Pylori bacterium in our guts. They become problematic when there are too many of them.

4. Gut Dysbiosis: This is very common, unfortunately. It’s an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your gut, in favour of the latter. This isn’t good and can lead to a number of problems, including food intolerances, frequent colds, flu and fatigue, skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis and a number of different autoimmune conditions. Gut dysbiosis is commonly caused by antibiotics (which can wipe out all of the good bacteria in the gut), c-sections, formula, artificial sweeteners, stress, too much processed food and a lack of insoluble fibre in the diet.

5. Prebiotics: These are foods that help support the growth of good bacteria in the gut, so   can boost your immune system. Food for your gut bacteria? This is a good thing. Onions, leeks, garlic, asparagus and bananas are all prebiotic foods. Eat them regularly, if you can.

6. Probiotics: Probiotics are another name for the good bacteria that line your gut and something that you want to have a lot of. Most probiotic food is fermented, which makes sense, right? Bacteria aids the fermentation process and you want good bacteria to make this happen. Sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, greek yoghurt, kefir, natto (fermented soy beans), unpasteurised cheeses, kombucha and bone broth are all great probiotic foods.

There are also some fantastic probiotic supplements on the market. These can give your gut bacteria a little push if you been on a round of antibiotics or are feeling like your immune system needs some extra support. I really like BioCare and VSL (these are powerful!).

Take care of your gut and it will take care of you!

Photo by Chris Montgomery

Refreshing Strawberry and Mint Ice Lollies

strawberry, raspberry and mint ice lolly

It’s FINALLY summer here in London and I’ve been experimenting with some fun warm weather recipes. You know, the type of food that you want to eat when the temperature rises and you desperately need to cool down.

I made this ice lollies at the weekend in less than 10 minutes (not including freezing time!) and they went down a treat.

What you need:

1 cup strawberries, washed and hulled

1/2 cup raspberries, washed

150ml coconut water (I like Rebel Kitchen)

3 medium-sized fresh mint leaves, chopped (You can use 1/2 teaspoon of dried mint if you don’t have any fresh mint)

Ice lolly moulds

A freezer (!)

strawberry ice lollies about to go into freezer

How to make it:

  1. Wash and hull your strawberries, then drop them into your blender cup. I use my Nutribullet for this, but a hand blender or Magimix would work just as well.
  2. Add the washed raspberries.
  3. Pour in the coconut water.
  4. Add the fresh mint.
  5. Blend until strawberries and raspberries are smooth.
  6. Pour into your ice lolly moulds and freeze. Depending on how cold and full your freeze is, the lollies will be ready in about 2-4 hours.
  7. Save the leftover mixture for more lollies or use it in your morning smoothie!
  8. Enjoy!

Stories I loved this week.

mother and child in landscape

Happy, happy, happy weekend! What are you up to? We’re doing some bits and pieces to our house to make it look tip top to sell, heading to central London for brunch and generally pottering about.

I’m really enjoying my summer break and getting a little psychic space to reflect on what I’ve learned this year and think about my plans for when I graduate.

Turmeric is the root of the moment. (NY Mag)

Bad news in the summer heat – iced coffee doesn’t have the same caffeine content as regular coffee. (Science of Us)

How to push yourself through a really hard workout. (Well + Good)

The three most powerful game changers in recent scientific literature – the microbiome, exosomes and belief / the placebo effect. (Dr Kelly Brogan)

I want to try this lovely summer salad recipe – watermelon, mint, prosciutto and almond, yum! (Bon Appetit)

The UK government recently recommended that everyone start supplementing with vitamin D. So how much should you actually take? (Clinical Education)

Great advice if you’re looking to change careers. #5 and #6 really resonate with me. (Well + Good)

Do your gut microbes control your food cravings? (Chris Kresser)

Photo by Jenn Richardson

End of (school) year reflections.

reflections

I’ve reached the end of my second year of my nutrition studies and I’ve had a few weeks to pause and take stock of the past year.

It’s been a really full on time, between working, studying, being a mother and wife and having a semblance of a social life. I’ve been juggling quite a few balls (and have dropped a few), but I’ve found an (im)balance that’s worked for me.

After two years of nutrition study, I’m even more sure that I’ve found ‘my calling’. That sounds corny, doesn’t it? But it’s so true.

I’ve found the lectures fascinating, learning about everything from phytonutrients to energy metabolism to supplements. And the practical element has been even better, seeing in clinic how proper nutrition and supplementation can have such a powerful effect on clients. It’s hard work, but I love it and am so excited to dive into a field that’s changing so much. To think that just ten years ago, we didn’t know much about the gut microbiome – what will we discover in the next ten years?

So what’s next?

Next year, we go deeper into specific topics such as nutrigenomics, women’s health, detoxification organs and support methods, amongst others. And we get closer to clients in clinic, with the expectation that by the end of the year, we’ll be able to run a clinic ourselves and give clients relevant, tailored and practical recommendations.

And I work out what I want to specialise in. Right now, I’m leaning towards women’s health, with a focus on pre and post natal mothers, as well as working with women who’ve suffered from miscarriages. This is such a rich area, where certainly in London, women don’t get the support they need and deserve.

Here’s to a great summer and a new school year with lots of growth and learning!

Photo by Paul Gilmore

Stories I loved this week.

 

footsteps on the beach

How do you keep your spirits up when it feels like you want to give the whole world a time-out, when so much seems to keep going wrong? What do you do to keep the positive energy going in your life?

Switching off and staying away from news sites & social media has become an essential part of my self-care, especially in the last three weeks. I don’t want to shut the world away, but sometimes I want a break from the bad news and bad behaviour. Is that selfish? Is it indulgent? It has become a necessity in order to avoid burnout.

So here’s to the weekend – may yours be full of long baths, cosy moments, good food and spiritual renewal.

A great summary of how to choose your weekly groceries in an ethical way. (NY Mag)

And I’m so in awe of what my body can do – I’m so proud of it.’ Women talk about how they feel about their bodies six weeks after giving birth. (The Pool)

5 tips for taking good food photos on your iPhone. (goop)

It’s fascinating to see the changes in attitudes towards food waste. This Spanish company is growing exponentially just using ‘imperfect’ produce. Inspiring. (The Guardian)

4 foods that can cause hormonal imbalance. Tofu is a big one. Fermented soy is a much better way to get phytoestrogens. (The Chalkboard)

I adore this series: 15 surprising things about parenting in Iceland. (Cup of Jo)

What happens to your body when you switch to an all-organic diet. Fascinating. (Fast Company)

Photo by Ana Gabriel

Things I Love: 13 Ways To Simplify Your Life

I recently had the pleasure of attending a talk with Sarah Wilson, the Australian journalist who has spearheaded the I Quit Sugar movement in Australia. She spoke for an hour about 13 ways to simplify your life. It was a really fun talk with loads of brilliant examples and tips. And I got my copy of Simplicious signed!

 

Here are her tips one by one – enjoy!

1. Stop Eating (So Much) Sugar

This is a no brainer. Sugary food has moved from being a treat that you might have at the weekend, to a must have after every meal. One of the ladies in the audience shared the problem of her son’s nursery offering a sugary dessert after every meal and asked for Sarah’s advice on what to do. My son’s nursery does the same and it drives me nuts. Food habits start early and I definitely don’t want J to be in the habit of expecting something sweet after each meal. Sarah advised the lady in the audience to have an honest chat with her son’s nursery – my experience is that nurseries think it’s normal to give a pudding after every meal so I just ask J’s nursery not to give him any sweet puddings all, that way when he has ice cream or cake with us or at a party, it actually is a treat. Problem solved.

 2. Cook

sarah wilson michael pollen quote

It seems so simple, doesn’t it? Sometimes the very act of cooking with fresh, local and organic ingredients seems almost revolutionary.

3. Ride a Bike and 4. Walk

They’re both cheap, easy and give you the benefit of exercise and the opportunity to take in your surroundings in a different way.  As a Londoner, it’s hard not to walk, whether it’s to and from the tube, doing the nursery pick-up and drop-off  or meandering around the neighbourhood. Sarah raved about Boris bikes and I made a mental note to use them a bit more often – they’re so easy and fun!

5. Slow Cook

I love my slow cooker. It is such a brilliant way to cook, especially knowing that after a long day at work in the winter, you have a warm meal waiting for you. Slow and low, Sarah advised, is the best way to cook. It better preserves micronutrients and phytonutrients and the long cooking time generally means that the food is more flavourful.

 6. Use Less Stuff

Sarah showed an amazing photo of her wearing a ‘Consume Less’ t-shirt when she was explaining this point. She urged us to reuse everything (something she does brilliantly in her latest book, Simplicious), to simplify our wardrobes and to generally not be so bound by the stuff that surrounds us. We’re currently on the cusp of a house move and I can really relate to this point as we’ve prepared the house for viewings. We’ve just got too much stuff.

7. Use Fewer Ingredients

Sarah’s recipes are incredibly straightforward and she’s a great believer in creating a flow of cooking, i.e. start with the foundation items, like stocks, spice blends, which then help with the main meal recipes in her book.

 8. Be A Total Scummy, Daggy Cook

Take doggy bags, buy the wonky veg, reuse everything. Sarah told a story about how she took home the bones from her restaurant meal to make stock – she takes waste not, want not to heart!

9. Have A Warm Root

Sarah is a big advocate of the balancing principles of Ayurveda and talk a lot about kapha, pitta and veda in her first book, which I found really interesting. She believes that  warming foods recreate balance in the body, especially when you’ve had a time of huge excess.

10. Create Your Own Life Boundaries

We get pushed in some many different directions and I know many of us have a very hard time saying no. Sarah talked about the importance creating your own boundaries and sticking to them. I’ve found this to be very true, especially at work. And if I don’t respect my own boundaries of leaving work at 6pm and not answering email after hours, my colleagues and clients surely don’t.

Sarah also urged us to “close some of the tabs in our brains” – which is an apt way of thinking about the incessant multi-tasking we’re all guilty of. Did you know that Brits toggle between devices 21 times an hour! Imagine what that’s doing to our brains!

11. Drop Stuff That Makes You Itch

If it’s not working for you, then drop it. The word no can be one of the most powerful words in your arsenal.

12. Don’t Seek Balance

sarah wilson don't seek balance

Enjoy the things that feel good and that will gradually create balance. I’ve talked a bit about this in the past. There’s no such thing as a fully balanced life and the more we seek balance, the more imbalanced we often become.

13. Get Your Grubby Mitts Off It

Sarah talked about time when she was feeling anxious and her meditation teacher advised her to ‘get her grubby mitts off it’, i.e. take a step back from the situation and get a bit of perspective.