What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

After taking a break from writing regularly in the Journal and focusing on my workshops, I am committed to begin writing again this spring and summer.

First off I'd like to start with an article about LGS, or Leaky Gut Syndrome, which I often mention in my workshops as a dangerous consequence of a weak stomach lining. This is of course discussed in relation to fermented foods, which as you will see below are powerful allies in keeping your stomach lining strong and healthy.
 

What is LGS?

Although sometimes labelled as a “hypothetic condition”, leaky gut syndrome (LGS) is a well documented health condition where the lining of the gut is damaged to the extent that harmful substances and undigested food particles are able to pass through this otherwise protective barrier of microvilli and into the bloodstream or lymphatic system.
A digestive issue to this extent means that the body cannot properly assimilate nutrient and nutrient deficiency symptoms are common.

 Making sauerkraut from inexpensive ingredients such as red cabbage is a wonderful and flavoursome way to protect the gut

Making sauerkraut from inexpensive ingredients such as red cabbage is a wonderful and flavoursome way to protect the gut


Causes

LGS is caused by a combination of several things. Stress is one co-factor, as cortisol can build up in the gut in times of chronic stress and cause inflammation which often leads to leaky gut.

Diet is another factor. A diet of mainly processed food and no probiotics while living in a modern, sterilised environment will lead to a poor gut flora over time. Some studies even show that emotional wellbeing and gut flora is linked (Kimberly Wilson's Food & Psychology podcast is excellent listening).
If harmful bacteria get to dominate in the GI tract this will over time cause inflammation which leads to LGS.
Taking antibiotics also contributes to a poor gut flora as antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria –  it takes over 2 years for the body to regain it’s normal bacterial flora after a course of antibiotics. 

A Standard American Diet or similar can also lead to leaky gut: processed foods, rancid vegetable oils, sodas, over-consumption of protein, pathogens and antibiotics in meat, high carbohydrate diets and FODMAPS all clog up the digestive system and promote inflammation.

Long and/or excessive use of pharmaceuticals such as ibuprofen and paracetamol, oral contraceptives, steroids etc. irritate the gut and can cause inflammation.
Similarly BPA, environmental toxins and pesticides all cause stress to the gut. 

Gluten can lead to leaky gut as it causes the gut to release zonuline, a molecule that can break apart the junctions of the intestinal lining. 

Other inflammatory-promoting foods such as dairy, sugar and especially alcohol can also cause irritation and inflammation of the gut and lead to LGS.

GMO consumption has also been linked to the development of leaky gut and since GMOs have become a part of processed foods incidence of leaky gut has soared. This may be one of the reasons why this condition is less acknowledged than it could be.

 

Symptoms

The symptoms of LGS that are directly linked to the digestion are: heartburn, gas, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (all previously mentioned symptoms arising at intervals, i.e. a very irregular digestion, constitute IBS), discomfort in the small intestine: discomfort is felt more central in the abdomen and on the front around the bellybutton, as the large intestine is located in the perimeter and leaky gut is a problem of the small intestine. 

However, as the digestive system affect the entire body and as the bloodstream is directly affected, common LGS symptoms don’t necessarily straight away seem to link to digestion.
Cognitive disfunction such as brain fog and memory issues, itchy skin, fatigue, sore joints, allergies (including seasonal allergies such as pollen allergy), immune dysfunction and insomnia are also symptoms of LGS.
As the immune system is fighting overtime, sufferers of LGS have lowered immune function and may get sick more easily.
Because of the challenges to the immune function diseases such as autoimmune diseases, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, thyroid dysfunction and even cancer can occur long term.
Mineral deficiencies in zinc, iron and magnesium are common as well as vitamin B12 deficiency.

 Milk or coconut kefir – another delicious way to help protect and heal the GI lining

Milk or coconut kefir – another delicious way to help protect and heal the GI lining



Testing

Getting tested for LGS can be difficult as it is not a “real condition” according to some medical societies and because each person may have different levels of permeability and display different symptoms. However there are many indicators of intestinal permeability which one can test for.

The most common test is the mannitol/lactulose test, also known as the urine test, the sugar test, the permeability test. Mannitol and lactulose are sugars which the patient drinks as a liquid. After 6 hours a urine sample is taken to determine which one(s) were better absorbed. If both sugars are elevated in the urine it signifies leaky gut as lactulose is a large sugar usually not passed with urine.
If only mannitol absorption is low it points in the direction of difficulty absorbing small molecules.

A stool test is another common way to test for LGS as the bacteria present in the stool and also the IGA levels can give leads about the digestive function. However many photogenic bacteria and microbials don’t always end up in the stool so this test is used mainly as an indicator.

An IGA test of the blood can also be done to determine LGS.
IGA is an immunoglobulin (antibody) of the blood and very high levels of IGA points in the direction of LGS as the body is on very high alert due to the immune system being thrown off kilter because of the leaky gut. As 60% of the immune system resides inn the small intestine there is really no wonder as to why this happens.

 

Treatment

There are natural ways of healing a leaky gut and these are lifestyle and diet related, but there is no One Diet as different things work for different people.
However limiting the amount of stress on the body – stresses that include not enough sleep, alcohol, toxins, difficult to digest foods, inflammatory promoting foods, strong negative emotions, strong physical experiences and late nights – is essential for all.

  • Psychological stress is, as previously mentioned, a major contributor to leaky gut due to the high levels of cortisol in the body. Reducing this kind of stress in everyday life is very important for overall health and quality of life. Taking the time to meditate, taking proper breaks during meal times and getting enough sleep are things that alleviates stress and a raised level of cortisol.
  • Eating slowly and chewing one’s food properly into a liquid limits the pressure put on an already stressed digestive system.
  • Eliminating irritating and inflammatory foods from the diet is important. Sugar, gluten, alcohol, cigarettes and in some cases caffeine and dairy must be let go of completely for a period of time and can then be slowly and moderately reintroduced into the diet.
    Harder to digest foods such as pulses, nuts and grains should be soaked/germinated with an acidic medium before cooking in order to reduce their phytic acid content and increase their digestibility. A balanced, healthy diet rich in vegetables is important.

Specific foods and nutrients can be added to speed up recovery. 

  • The amino acid L-glutamine is an anti-inflammatory amino acid that supports the intestinal lining and can be added as a supplement. 
  • Probiotics have the ability to support the digestive system and treat digestive disorders while supporting nutrient assimilation and should be included in the diet in all forms. 
    Probiotics and fermented foods are shown to help strengthen the gut lining and the probiotic bacteria help taking the pressure off the gastrointestinal lining having to defend the body all by itself. If dairy products aren’t causing an adverse reaction raw, organic dairy products particularly from goat’s milk can be beneficial.
    Probiotics are most powerful in food form and have an alkalising effect on the body despite their sour flavour, but if they are difficult to digest one may start with probiotic supplements. Milk kefir and water kefir are good, gentle introductions to probiotic foods that are easy to digest.
  • A home made high quality bone broth contains high levels of l-glutamine as well as gelatine and these nutrients helps the gut lining heal. Bone broth is not a complete protein but acts as a protein sparer, helping the body more fully utilise other complete proteins that are taken in and can therefore aid in nutrient assimilation. The amino acids proline and glycine are also present in bone broth. Proline is a precursor to collagen, famous for tightening the skin. Collagen tightens the “inside skin” as well as preventing wrinkles and so helps tightening the junctions in the gut.
    Broth made of high quality bones, heads and feet coming from organic, naturally fed and unstressed animals contain many important minerals that can be especially lacking in a sufferer of LGS. Minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus are found in bone broth and these support organ and tissue health to help the body heal.
  • Zinc is especially important for healing the gut lining and maintain healthy HCL levels. Zinc is found naturally in pulses such as lentils, quinoa and oats as well as seeds such as poppy, sesame, pumpkin and sunflower and can also be taken as a supplement.
  • Sea weeds are extremely mineral rich and are great to include in the diet to supplement lost minerals.
  • Aloe vera gel in smoothies or juices helps balance an over-active immune system and soothes the digestive system. Being anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal as well as being a plant source of B12 it is a much needed ally in healing a leaky gut.
  • Coconut anything helps to soothe the digestive system. Coconut oil, meat, milk and water are rich in nutrients, supports the immune system and provide healthy fats. Coconut is anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory.
  • MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is an organic compound containing biologically active sulfur. It is anti-inflammatory and has the ability to help rebuild the lining of the digestive tract. Sulfur plays an important role in collagen formation.
  • Speaking of healthy fats, omega 3 fatty acids are important to include in the diet for their anti-inflammatory and digestion promoting properties. Supplementing with a good quality omega 3 supplement as well as using plant sources of omega 3. 
  • Soaked and sprouted flax seeds are great for intestinal health as the fibre in the flax seeds help grow beneficial bacteria in the gut. The fibre in combination with a very high omega 3 content makes soaked flax an excellent aid for LGS.
  • Anti-fungal natural supplements to kick parasites, yeast infections and fungals will also alleviate leaky gut symptoms. Oregano oil, olive leaf oil, tea tree oil, grapefruit seed extract, garlic oil, echinacea extract and caprylic acid supplements are all powerful yet completely natural anti-fungal supplements that have no side effects. Rotate the supplements to ensure that they are always effective. 
  • Turmeric is a superb anti-inflammatory that one can take daily.
  • Slippery Elm is a great help as a tea if suffering from symptoms of nausea, gassiness, IBS symptoms, etc.
  • Helichrysum italicum essential oil is one of the strongest anti-inflammatories and White Willow bark as a tea can relieve inflammation as well. Marjoram and Peppermint essential oils massaged on the forehead help with headaches and mental fogginess symptoms

Finally, some particular foods that often promote an adverse reaction in sufferers of leaky gut syndrome are chocolate, spicy foods, peanuts, tomatoes, hot peppers, any carbonated beverages, citrus drinks, black tea and coffee, eggs, dairy and salt.
If suffering from leaky gut syndrome, assess how you feel when eating these foods and work from there.

 

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SOURCES:

Eric Brakker, aka “Candida Crusher” and his youtube channel

naturalhealth365.com

glutenfreesociety.com 

myleakygutsyndrome.com

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

wellnessmama.com 

draxe.com 

 

"But what do you eat?"

I have been a vegetarian (lately an "aquatarian" as I occasionally eat fish and seafood) since I was in my early teens and there really was no end to people telling me I would not grow properly.
I did though, and there is much evidence that cutting down on meat is one of the best thing we can do for our health.

However, there seems to be a lot of concern regarding protein and a vegetarian diet and in this post I will attempt to break this down – into amino acids (pun intended).

Amino acids (“aminoes”) are organic compounds that consist of at least one amino group (-NH2) and one carboxyl group (-COOH).
In our human bodies we make use of 20 amino acids to build proteins and these aminoes are therefore named proteinogens. There exists about additional 500 amino acids overall which do not form proteins, but they form other things such as sugars.

We need all of the proteinogens and we can synthesise some in the body while others must be supplied by our diet.
The ones we cannot make ourselves are named essential amino acids and they are called isoleucine, histidine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine, which makes a total of nine essential amino acids.

When essential amino acids were first classified it was thought that histidine was indispensable only during infancy, but it has later been reclassified as an essential amino acid as it is essential throughout the entire lifespan.

For children one additional amino acid is categorised as essential.
It is called arginine and is referred to as a semi-essential amino acid as it can be synthesised in the body, but is crucial for body growth and the body cannot synthesise enough on its own during a growth-period. 

A healthy human body can produce the remaining proteinogens itself. They are alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamine, glutamic acid, glycine, proline, serine and tyrosine.

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Lack of sufficient amino acids can lead to a number of health hazards and as the body is unable to store amino acids it is important to have them in the diet.
If there are not enough amino acids available the body will begin to break down muscle tissue in order to access amino acids there to use them elsewhere.
This is why muscle waste is the first sign of lack of aminoes. 

As proteins supports functions such as hormone production, cell-to-cell communication and immune health, these are other areas in which lack of protein will show.

There is an ongoing debate on whether or not it is safe to eat a vegetarian/vegan diet because of the “protein argument”: that one cannot get sufficient protein/sufficient range of amino acids through a plant based diet alone.
Some even say it is irresponsible not to feed children meat.


There is much research to contradict this.

A study conducted by the American Dietetic Society and Dieticians of Canada concluded that “Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence.
Vegetarian diets offer a number of nutritional benefits, including lower levels of saturated fat (although saturated fat, as we know, is not necessarily a bad thing), cholesterol and animal protein as well as higher levels of carbohydrates, fibre, magnesium, potassium, folate and antioxidants such as vitamins C and E and phytochemicals.
Vegetarians have been reported to have lower body mass indices than nonvegetarians, as well as lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease; vegetarians also show lower blood cholesterol levels; lower blood pressure; and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer.” (1)

Another study conducted on children eating a plant-based diet in India (2) concluded that
"The adequacy of plant-based diets in developed and developing countries as sources of protein and amino acids for human subjects of all ages is examined. Protein quantity is shown not to be an issue. (…)  Inadequate amino acid supply is not an issue with most cereal-based diets.” (3)

In other words we do not need to aim for one amino-acid “hit” in every meal, but we may sample amino acids from various plant based sources throughout the day.
Take for instance the amino acid lysine, which comes up time and time gain as an amino acid vegetarians “are sure to be deficient of”. 
Tofu, tempeh and lentils all contain a lot of lysine.
Quinoa, amaranth, pistachios and pumpkin seeds are also decent sources of lysine.

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Sometimes the argument is that there are aminoes found in meat exclusively, but this is simply not true.
There is a dipeptide (a molecule consisting of two amino acids joined by a peptide bond) called carnosine which is only found in animal flesh as it is synthesised in animal tissues.
Carnosine consists of histidine, one of the essential amino acids, and an amino acid called beta-Alanine.
Some research (4) has shown that carnosine in the diet may help prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, but the studies on this are still in infancy (the earliest one was conducted in 2007) and today carnosine is not considered essential for optimum health.


When you eat a protein-rich food the body breaks the protein down to single amino acids. Then the amino acids are transported throughout the body and assimilated by the cells who pick aminoes out of this “pool” to create new proteins to build the body.

Think of it as a lego set that comes in the shape of a truck (the original protein), but can be disassembled into individual lego bricks (amino acids), mixed with lego bricks from other lego sets (other proteins) to build an entirely new lego construction from the mix of pieces, such as a lego house (muscle tissue), lego tractor (blood cells) or lego lion (hormones).
(Maybe not an easier explanation, but a more fun one)
Therefore, it is important to mix and match your protein intake so as to get a wide a range of different amino acids to choose from as possible. This is the problem with getting one’s protein from meat exclusively: the amino acid source is not very varied.

A food that falls under the category protein and contains all the essential amino acids is called a “complete protein”.
Meat is a complete protein, but there are many vegetarian complete proteins too: peanuts, tempeh, chick peas, buckwheat, quinoa, almonds, brown rice, butter beans, red lentils, amaranth, hemp seed, chia seed and spirulina, to mention a few.

As Christmas is approaching I am sure that other plant-based humans such as myself are bracing themselves for being questioned  at every Christmas family dinner when they refuse the traditionally meaty holiday dishes.
Hopefully this little bit of ammunition will make dinner party season feel a little less daunting – and make conversation at the table a lot more interesting!


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1:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12778049

2:  A digression: in India there have been whole societies living to ripe old ages, prospering and creating a unique and innovative culture while being entirely vegetarian for innumerable generations. How can we then say that meat is essential for life and growth?

3:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10466163

4:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17522447

On stubborn weight, environmental poisons and dehydration

Resistant excess weight and body fat can be a symptom of many things.
We can all agree that eating well, eating less, exercising and not snacking are important factors when it comes to weight management, but the problem can go deeper than just diet and movement and many people find themselves gaining or unable to lose weight while on an excellent diet. 

This is often a complex problem where many factors overlap and in this post I will look at diet and hydration and how this affects hormonal balances, toxicity levels and enzyme activity which in turn is connected to weight management.

In general, a varied plant-based diet consisting of organic foods with plenty of fibre, healthy fats, carbohydrates and probiotics and with slightly less protein is the way to go for weight loss and a healthy body in general, as well as shying away from processed foods, PUFAs, sugar and excess salt. 

Whole, organic foods containing plenty of fibre, carbs, healthy fats and probiotics is the way forward alongside a modest protein intake.

Fibre is helpful for digestion and metabolism and it has the ability to bind toxins to excrete them from the body.
Insoluble fibre is a great prebiotic that supports friendly gut flora, it makes stools easier to pass and keeps the bowels healthy. It is also a good tool to help regulate food cravings as it makes you feel fuller earlier. 

Fibre is found in nuts and seeds, root vegetables, onions, fruits such as bananas and apples, wholemeal and many greens.
Fibre-rich greens that are simultaneously low in calories are excellent to help with weight loss and they include broccoli, cabbage, celery, mustard greens, dandelion greens (also a laxative, great to help with slow bowel movement), brussels sprouts, collard and spinach.

A raw food diet is rich in fibre and you feel fuller on less food as you can’t eat the same quantities of raw food as you can eat cooked food.
Raw food is hydrating and rich in phytonutrients, enzymes, vitamins and minerals that will all support the hormonal system and the metabolism, two things that are key to weight management.

 Raw vegetables are a great source of enzymes and fibre 

Raw vegetables are a great source of enzymes and fibre 

Carbohydrates, although many may not think so, can help burn fat, especially if eaten within 30 minutes after exercise.
Taken with regular exercise, carbohydrates help you negate the metabolic hormonal issues and keep your fat gains to a minimum as you put on lean mass. Many fibrous vegetables also consist of good quality, slow-releasing carbohydrates.

Eating a low carb diet for extended periods of time will cause a decline in the hormones that are responsible for metabolism.
For instance a hormone called “active T3”, a thyroid hormone that is vital for energy production, muscle gain and fat-burning, will decline when there is not enough readily available energy in the body – energy in the form of glucose derived from carbohydrates.
Another hormone called leptin is responsible for the production of the already mentioned T3 as well as neuropeptides, epinephrine and T4, which are all hormones that affect metabolism. This hormone is activated after exercise and in the presence of sugars derived from carbohydrates.

The omega 3 oil DHA is also very important for healthy leptin function as this lowers the chance for leptin-resistance in the body. Leptin is made in stored fat (white adipose tissue) and one of it’s jobs is to tell your brain how much fuel you have left in the body.
If the leptin gauge is reading high in the brain it means that you have enough fuel to go for a while and your brain will not tell you to eat. If the leptin gauge is low however, your brain may think there is a famine and signal you to eat.
This is why, when the brain becomes insensitive to leptin and has difficulty reading it, some people a tendency to having to over eat in order to feel satisfied: the body is in a false state of perceived starvation. Leptin-resistance or leptin activity disturbance can come from years of over eating and also from environmental poisons.

And speaking of fats, stable monounsaturated fatty acids and saturated fatty acids are also good allies to keep hormones and metabolism in check. 

Much research shows that people with a higher intake of saturated fats in their diet lose more weight and this is caused by a number of factors: 

  • Saturated fats raise the levels of good HDL cholesterol, which among other things play an important role in the production of hormones, which in turn regulate the metabolism. 
  • Saturated fats in the diet have been shown to encourage the liver to dump stored fat content (too much fat in the liver can lead to fatty liver disease) which is the first step on the way to stop storing fat in the middle body. Saturated fats are the building blocks of the liver, so while eating saturated fats the liver detoxifies and protects the body more efficiently. In fact, anything that is good for the liver helps to reduce excess weight. I will look more into other means of liver support later in this post.
  • Saturated fats also support proper nerve signalling as the nerves in the body are built from saturated fat and work best with the right building blocks. Nerves signal messages to each other than influence metabolism, including the appropriate release of insulin. 
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As you get older enzyme activity declines in the body and this may be one of the reasons as of why many people tend to gain some weight as they age.
Enzymes make every chemical reaction in the body possible and metabolism is definitely a chemical reaction.
Raw living foods and probiotic foods are teeming with food enzymes that will work for us once we ingest them. Kombucha, kefir, pickled vegetables, probiotic vegan or lactose yogurts and fermented nut and seed products are excellent to support the body’s digestive system. 

Protein has become very popular lately, especially in shakes.
However, eating more protein than you need can lead to weight gain, dehydration, stress on the kidneys and loss of bone minerals.
If you eat too much protein it will be converted to sugar and fat and the increased blood sugar levels can lead to yeast overgrowth (such as candida overgrowth) and tumour growth. When there is too much protein in the body, the kidneys work overtime to remove excess nitrogen waste from the bloodstream that is created when protein is processed in the body. This can lead to dehydration and kidney problems.
A moderate protein intake with a varied range of amino acids is best and this is best achieved by getting your daily protein intake from a variety of plant sources.

One reason that some people may not be able to shed their weight is the level of toxicity in the body. The walls of the intestine can be lined with hardened mucous and waste products and the body may not be able to digest the food properly, i.e. it cannot draw nutrients and liquid from the food when it is in the intestine as the intestinal wall does not function properly. In the long run this may cause dehydration and even nutritional deficiencies. 

Toxicity may be a crucial factor when the body refuses to let go of excess weight no matter what.
When the body has to deal with a toxic overload (environmental poisons, pesticides, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, etc) it may expand the number of fat cells and stuff these cells with toxins in order to lead them away from the blood circulation and vital organs.
The body then refuses to give up the toxic fat that is has stored and you may even poison yourself during weight loss (this may be one of the reasons why non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can be brought on by rapid weight loss). These toxin-filled fat cells also don't work like normal fat cells, for instance they are unable to make leptin normally and their general malfunctioning can also lead to diabetes type 2.

In order to release these stubborn fat cells correctly, proper metabolic efficiency becomes very important.
What you want to do is form new, metabolically fit fat cells (because we do actually need fat cells!) while encouraging your old, toxic fat cells to dump their contents and die.
As research shows that toxic blood triggers the formation of new fat cells, it is important to “clean” your blood as much as possible.
If your blood is too toxic when you embark on losing weight, the toxins that are released with fat cells during weight loss will be taken up again from the blood stream and re-packaged into new fat cells and you will have gotten yourself nowhere.
Chlorophyll, especially from fresh wheatgrass and spirulina, are great blood detergents. Other foods to support the blood include seaweed, beetroot, broccoli, spinach and chlorella.

 Green smoothies are an easy way to get chlorophyll into the diet

Green smoothies are an easy way to get chlorophyll into the diet

The detoxifiers of the body – the liver, kidneys and lymphatic system - need to be in prime condition for a safe weight loss. The body will not willingly let go of the stored toxins unless the body is detoxified first!
Using anti-inflammatory support nutrients such as curcumin, vitamin C and grape seed extract may also be advisable in order to prep the body with antioxidants. Fibre, as mentioned before, acts like a sponge for toxins and is therefore important in a weight loss diet.
 

How do we best support the liver, kidneys and lymphatic system? 

For the liver, herbs such as milk-thistle, dandelion root, red clover and gutu kola will give support, as will fresh wheatgrass juice, turmeric juice and carrot juice.
Alcohol and caffeine needs to be limited to a minimum or completely removed.
Castor oil packs and coffee enemas are also excellent tools for liver support, as well as a liver and gall bladder cleanse using lemon juice and olive oil or flax oil.

Alkaline minerals are the best support you can give to your kidneys. After years of an overly acidic diet (meat, processed foods, flour, alcohol) chances are that acids are stored in the kidneys, causing stress and makes it difficult for the kidneys to properly eliminate toxins.
A simple daily routine for supporting your kidneys is having a glass of warm filleted water with fresh lemon juice squeezed in every morning before breakfast. This is deeply alkalising and will help your kidneys flush away toxins.
Limiting your intake of proteins is also important for maintaining good kidney health, as previously discussed.

The lymphatic system supports many functions in the body: the immune system, the metabolism, the nervous systems and detoxification. It is responsible for the flow of extracellular fluids, it is a filtering system for the body tissues and it returns plasma proteins to the circulation after they leave the blood stream.
As it is the body’s drainage system for toxins, a “clogged lymphatic system” will lead to a buildup of toxins and this is why we need to keep the lymphatic system in prime condition.
Exercise is the single best thing for keeping the lymphatic system in good shape. When the body does not move, toxins remain in the muscle. Exercise promotes blood circulation and brings oxygen to the tissues and cells.
Again, milk thistle is a fantastic herb to support the detoxification systems overall.
Last but not least, staying properly hydrated is the most important thing you can do to support your liver, your kidneys, your lymphatic system… Indeed, your entire body.

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In fact, dehydration alone can lead to excess weight gain.
Without water the bowels become constipated and this leads to waste matter in the bowels and impure blood, without water the skin cannot eliminate through sweat, the kidneys are less able to eliminate waste products and acids and the lymphatic system slows down.
This is how dehydration can lead to toxicity and the storage of toxic fat cells as discussed above.

Hormones, too, need water to be stored and transported in the body and these are essential for many things including proper metabolism.

In the face of dehydration and toxicity the body may react by creating oedemas (water pockets in the body and surrounding tissues) that show themselves as weight gain. The body does this in order to store water as it thinks there is a draught because of years of dehydration, and also to protect body tissues from toxins by using a wall of water.

As we age, water intake becomes more important as hydration decreases in body tissues. Without water, the fluids around enzymes shrink and they cannot do their work properly. Add to the fact that, as already mentioned, enzyme activity slows down with age and you already have a great excuse to up your water intake.
Health authorities commonly recommend eight 8-ounce glasses, which equals about 2 litres or half a gallon per day. The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake for men is roughly about 3 litres a day and 2.2 litres for women. This is the baseline of water intake. A good rule of thumb is to add 0.25 litres of water for every hour you are active or sweating in the sun.


Drinking more water is a great place to start, but it is also important to add hydrating foods and drinks to your diet.
Cutting dehydrating drinks like alcohol and caffeine is important. Instead, limit your alcohol intake to an occasional glass of red wine and instead of having an alcoholic drink you can experiment with refreshing lemonades, water kefir mocktails, kombucha and fresh juices.
Coffees and black teas can be substituted with almond milk matcha lattes, herbal teas and green teas. Raw foods have a much higher water content than cooked foods and are therefore preferable. Smoothies, hot or cold soups and fruits are hydrating alternatives to fried or overcooked foods.
Salads are also good for hydrating as they often contain the most hydrating vegetables: tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuces, radishes and spinach. 

I specialise in eliminative therapies to support the body's removal of toxins as well as cleansing diets and I am happy to carefully guide you through a programme that suits your needs.
Please contact me for details.


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Eating well is no fad

A couple of weeks ago (11.08.17), author Bee Wilson offered the Guardian readers the weekend’s long read in the form of an article titled Why We Fell For Clean Eating. It is useful to read her article here before reading my response.

Her view on the matter seems very confused. On the one hand she is all for us needing to eat more vegetables and she recognises the real danger of serious health complications should we fail to do so.
On the other hand she willingly makes fun of food trends such as smoothies and avocados and tells us how the plant based diet health claims are pseudoscience that is not scientifically backed up.

First, let me start off by saying that I agree with a whole lot of things Wilson writes in her article Why We Fell For Clean Eating. Orthorexia, the eating disorder that has reached epidemic proportions, is absolutely real.
The #cleaneating trend is making a healthier diet feel unattainable and alienating for most people.

“Nigella Lawson was speaking for many when she expressed “disgust” at clean eating as a judgmental form of body fascism. “Food is not dirty”, Lawson wrote.”

I couldn’t agree more. Eating well shouldn’t mean that one has to fit into an elitist clique where one competes for who can buy the most unattainable and expensive superfoods.
Eating well should simply mean that one has the economical means and knowledge it takes to eat in a way that does not promote disease and obesity. It doesn’t have to be chia seeds, it may simply be more broccoli or spinach on the dinner table.

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Even though Wilson admits there is a connection between disease and a poor diet she attacks the plant based food trend for being a fad and not being evidence based.

As she rightly pointed out, successful clean eating advocates such as for example Jordan Younger (The Balanced Blonde, formerly The Vegan Blonde) has no qualifications as a nutritionist.
This is of course very important and even though I am a Healing Diets Practitioner I do not have medical training myself. There is, however, plenty of medically trained people out there who very much advocates for eating a whole-grain, plant based diet.
Medically trained doctors that recognise the disease preventative abilities of plant foods are T. Colin Campbell Phd (author of The China Study), Michael Greger M.D. (author of How Nor To Die), Dr. Robert Lustig, Dr. Gabriel Cousens and Dr. Colin Champ, to mention a few.

The three latter doctors also do not subscribe to the lipid hypothesis: essentially, the idea that fat makes you fat and gives you heart disease.
In her article, Wilson attempts to enforce this hypothesis as fact by citing the American Heart Association: “The American Heart Association suggested that the coconut oil beloved as a panacea by clean eaters actually had “no known offsetting favourable effects”, and that consuming it could result in higher LDL cholesterol.”

It is no news that people in the medical field are arguing over saturated fats: this has been going on for some time and is still in the news today.
The point I am making is that there isn’t just “blond and beautiful untrained bloggers” on the other side of the fence: the saturated fat argument is also backed up by conventionally trained medics. 

Un-medically trained me have thoroughly been through this controversial topic earlier on this blog  and strewn this post with the E-word: evidence-based research. If you prefer an MD to tell you that vegetable oils are nasty and saturated fats are okay instead of myself, click here and here

Wilson uses ridicule as her ammunition when she attacks the so-called clean eaters: bone broth becomes “mysterious” and should be labelled “stock, to you and me”; however, bone broth has a range of different nutritional qualities that differ from stock.
While stock can be made up of anything (hey vegetable stock), bone broth is made by boiling an animal carcass (chicken/hen) or bones for 12-48 hours for them to release bone minerals and gelatin into the water. Unlike regular stock, it also contains beneficial saturated fats.

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Almond milk is debunked as “expensive water” as it contains very little protein. I drink almond milk and see it as “a superior alternative to cow’s milk”, but I sure don’t drink it for the protein. 
I drink it because cow’s milk, apart from being produced by very sick and sad animals as part of the inhumane and environmentally retarded dairy industry, thoroughly acidifies the body and makes me prone to diseases such as osteopenia.

And yes, dairy IS actually an acid-forming food in the body just as Junger is cited explaining in Wilson’s article (and is subsequently ridiculed for).
The connection between metabolic acid load in the body and dairy consumption has been known since the 1920’s and studies show (science, folks!) that when the metabolic acid load is increased the body draws calcium from the bones which is a very effective alkaline mineral for PH balancing. In addition to this, a higher metabolic acid load has also been shown numerous times to promote excretion of calcium in the urine by as much as 800%
(footnote 1  footnote 2 footnote 3)

Even WHO has stated that:

“With regard to calcium intakes to prevent osteoporosis, the Consultation referred to the recommendations of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Vitamin and Mineral Requirements in Human Nutrition which highlighted the calcium paradox. The paradox (that hip fracture rates are higher in developed countries where calcium intake is higher than in developing countries where calcium intake is lower) clearly calls for an explanation. To date, the accumulated data indicate that the adverse effect of protein, in particular animal (but not vegetable) protein, might outweigh the positive effect of calcium intake on calcium balance.”

So. That’s the real reason why switching to almond milk may not be such a bad idea after all.

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Still in the supermarket aisle, Wilson accusingly declares that “sales of courgettes in the UK soared 20% from 2014 to 2015, fuelled by the rise of the spiraliser” while admitting with the same breath that the “overall consumption of vegetables, both in the UK and worldwide, is still vanishingly small (with 74% of the adult UK population not managing to eat five a day)”
So why is she having a go at courgettes and spiralisers then? Isn’t it a good thing that new food trends like these are inspiring people to eat more vegetables?

Wilson is also annoyed at avocados. “Avocados now outsell oranges in the UK." and
"Nutribullets – a brand of compact blenders designed for making supposedly radiance-bestowing juices and smoothies – are now mentioned in some circles as casually as wooden spoons.”


Avocados ARE a food trend, just like shrimp cocktails were in the 60s. It doens’t mean that it signifies anything else. They are also a great creamy alternative to dairy products. I’ve already mentioned why it is a good idea to find dairy alternatives.
And hey – people are drinking smoothies. I’ve even gotten my dad into smoothies. If both Wilson and I agree that people need to eat a little better in order to prevent disease, what’s wrong with Nutribullets?
And come to think of it, whats wrong with wooden spoons? Plastic kills!
 

“At its simplest, clean eating is about ingesting nothing but “whole” or “unprocessed” foods (whatever is meant by these deeply ambiguous terms)”

What is ambiguous about unprocessed? Time and time again evidence based research shows that plant food based diets – whole food diets – have a preventative and sometimes even curative effect on disease, ranging from Alzheimer’s to heart disease to diabetes.
The reason why ”these authors [do] not simply say “I am publishing a very good vegetarian cookbook” and stop there, instead of making larger claims about the power of vegetables to beautify or prevent disease” is because a plant based diet DOES prevent certain diseases!
 

I know I am in dangerous territory here. I am also at a point where I become very ambiguous with regards to my feelings towards the author. We agree on many things, yet she decides to go on again and again about pseudoscience and falsehoods.
There is “real” science proving that plant foods can not only prevent but also in some cases cure disease.
The China Study, A Cancer Therapy, Rainbow Green Live-Food Cuisine and How Not To Die should be on the reading list before one decides to go after a trend that advocates for a more plant based diet. All these books are riddled with footnotes and make claims thoroughly based in conventional science. 

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“The real question is how to fight this kind of diet absolutism without bouncing back to a mindless celebration of the modern food environment that is demonstrably making so many people sick. In 2016, more than 600 children in the UK were registered as living with type 2 diabetes; before 2002, there were no reported cases of children suffering from the condition, whose causes are diet-related.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. I thoroughly agree. And I become even more confused.

“The answer isn’t yet another perfect diet, but a shift in our idea of what constitutes normal food.”
Yes, Wilson, yes yes yes. So why do you have to work against rather than with the people who are trying to do just that?


I want to end this post with a quote from Michael Pollan, author or The Omnivore’s Dilemma (another one for your reading list). Simply:



Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

 

UPDATE!

The Lancelet just published a major study that looks at all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease and nutrition across all 5 continents.
The findings underline my points about saturated fats exactly:

"The researchers found that people between the ages of 35 and 70 on low fat/high carb diets had an increased risk of early death compared with those on a lower carb/higher fat diets. This emphasises that government advice over recent decades to switch out saturated fats and replace them with carbs has been killing people."

This is not all:

"The current PURE study also found that an intake of veg, fruit and legumes of 3-4 servings a day, equating to 375-500 grams, was associated with a lower total mortality and non-cardiovascular mortality."

Once again a thorough and conventionally scientific study proves that a plant based diet does indeed prevent disease and increases longevity. Read the whole study here and a breakdown by ANH here.


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What to eat for healthy hair growth

I am delighted to announce that I have started working as a contributor for the online publication Well + Happy and that my first article is live on the website! It is about hair growth and nutrition as it is something I am currently obsessing over ever so slightly... Enjoy!


Supple, glowing skin; strong nails; bright, clear eyes and lustrous shiny hair are all signs of what is going on inside us. The last of these is what preoccupies me these days: hair.

After being a “girl with short hair” for over six years I’m finally growing it out and it’s maddening. So along with a little patience, i'm relying on key nutrients to give my body the best chance of growing a silky smooth and shiny mane. 

The mineral iodine plays a key role in the rejuvenation of skin and in protecting against psoriasis and flaky scalps. This is where we should all start, because healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp.

Natural salts are a good source of iodine...

To read the whole article, click here

The Vegetable Alchemist

Last week, on May 27th, I had the honour of hosting a fun and engaging fermentation workshop in West London which included a talk on probiotics, step-by-step guides on how to make my favourite fermented foods and a fun collective sauerkraut massage circle.

The day ended with lunch in the sun where we got to taste all the things we had been talking about: kombucha, flavoured with pineapple and forest berries; sauerkraut served on a 12-hour-marinated portobello burger with a raw carrot-flax-herb cracker; two types of kimchi; sweet potato fries with probiotic ketchup and a coconut yogurt dessert with fresh fruit and raw chia seed flap jack crumble. 

I am so grateful for getting to share my knowledge and passion with such an engaged and inspiring audience. As promised, below are the recipes in reprise.

I hope that through fermentation we may keep alive an ancient tradition, end the war on bacteria and create communities with likeminded people. 
If you are looking to meet other fermenters, the Kombucha Nation! FaceBook group is full of likeminded people and there is much room for asking questions and geeking out.
The book The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellis Katz is an incredible resource, awe-inspiring and inspirational.

I look forward to hosting more workshops like these and to keep spreading the word – and the SCOBYs! Until next time, keep fermenting!

 Fermented foods are “the flavourful space between fresh and rotten.”  - Sandor Ellix Katz

Fermented foods are “the flavourful space between fresh and rotten.” 
- Sandor Ellix Katz


KOMBUCHA

Kombucha is a fermented brew made from tea and sugar using a symbiotic 'colony' of bacteria and yeast (a so-called SCOBY) and an aerobic environment for it to interact with.

There is no “scientific proof” of the health benefits of kombucha and there have been done no clinical trials on the subject as far as I know.

The proven facts on health benefits: in a number of studies on rats, kombucha decreased the negative effects of liver harming agents in the same way as paracetamol.
The beneficial yeasts present in the brew will normally protect the body from harmful yeasts such as candida albicans. 

The drink also contains active enzymes.

More speculative claims are that kombucha can aid detoxification through its main bioactive saccharolactone, but this has never been “proven” due to the lack of testing on humans.
Because tea is naturally antioxidant rich so is the kombucha, but research again differs on whether or not there is more or less antioxidants present after fermentation. Some research prove a boost of B vitamins and amino acids as well as antioxidants in a finished brew.

Personally, I have a lot of faith in the health properties of kombucha – and it’s also delicious! It is a healthy way to get a pick-me-up which is not coffee, it is refreshing and one can add all kinds of health boosting herbs and spices.

Since I started brewing and drinking kombucha, my overall immune system has been better and so has my digestion. The drink has been brewed and used as medicine for hundreds of years and who am I to dismiss age old wisdom? I give kombucha to all my friends and I encourage them to brew their own. It’s fun, delicious and most likely really good for you.

 "It's alive!" – healthy SCOBY forming on a kombucha

"It's alive!" – healthy SCOBY forming on a kombucha

To brew one litre of kombucha, you will need:
One SCOBY
100 ml + starter kombucha (any unpasteurised kombucha)
60 - 80 grams of sugar
3 bags of tea

  • Place the SCOBY and the kombucha in a clean jar – no need to sterilise, just make sure that the glass is clean and free of soap stains. 
  • Boil 500 ml of water
  • Add 60-80 grams of sugar (unrefined cane sugar, like rapadura is best as it will provide you with beneficial trace minerals). 
  • Stir with a non-metal utensil (kombucha does not like metal) until the sugar is dissolved. 
  • Add 3-4 tea bags of your choice – green, black, white... You can also use "green tea with jasmine" or other flavoured teas for an interesting brew!
  • Let the tea steep for 5 minutes then discard.
  • Mix the sweet tea with 500 ml of room temperature water and stir with a non metal utensil. 
  • Pour the sweet tea mix into the prepared jar with the SCOBY and starter kombucha.
  • Cover with a cloth or a sheet of kitchen roll, fasten with a rubber band and leave to ferment in a warm place out of direct sunlight.
  • Fermentation time will be anything from 5 days to 3 weeks depending on the heat of the room and also how sour/sweet you like it. Start tasting it after 5 days and see how you go! Once it is time to bottle the kombucha, save a little over 100 ml to use for your next brew.
  • When you want to take a break from brewing simply keep your SCOBY in a jar in the fridge covered in kombucha. If you plan to pause your kombucha production for more than a month, feed the SCOBY once a month with approx. one tsp of sugar dissolved in a little water.

When you like the taste of your kombucha it is ready to drink just as it is, but it will not be fizzy straight from the jar. If you would like some fizz or if you would like to flavour it using fruit chunks, herbs, spices or juice, the second fermentation is the time to do this.

  • Prepare a clean airtight bottle for second fermentation.
  • Add fruit juice, spices, herbs or anything else you can come up with to the bottles along with the kombucha for the 2nd fermentation. Note that if you add anything sugary (fruits, sweet vegetables like carrots or beets) you have to be extra careful to avoid exploding bottles! Keep an eye on them and burp them regularly. 
  • I add approx 100-200 ml of fruit/vegetable juice/chunks per litre bottle.
    More surface exposure = more flavour, so mash your berries, finely chop your apple chunks or simply blend your flavourings with a little water and add to the kombucha.
    At the workshop we had pineapple kombucha where the pineapple had been blended before added to the brew and we had forest berry kombucha from mashed forest berries.
  • Once the flavouring is in the bottle, add the kombucha on top.
    Do not fill the bottles up all the way to the top, but leave the bottleneck for carbonation.
  • Close the bottle and turn it on its head a few times to mix.
  • Second fermentation time will again depend on room temperature and also how sweet the kombucha is: carbonation happens when the fermentation continues with the residue sugar. 

It is also possible – and delicious – to add things such as ginger, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, fresh herbs, cordials, flowers, citrus peel… Set your imagination free.

Make sure to burp the bottles regularly so they don't explode! It can be useful to keep the bottles in a sturdy carry-bag or a cardboard box during second fermentation as this will contain a potential explosion and make it a whole lot less messy and dangerous. 

 Very excited SCOBY daddy and workshop attendee Oli with his new SCOBY

Very excited SCOBY daddy and workshop attendee Oli with his new SCOBY


FERMENTED VEGETABLES such as SAUERKRAUT and KIMCHI

The simplest yet most transformative ferment of them all: Vegetables with exposed surface + salt + time = fermented vegetables. During the workshop we all made a small jar of sauerkraut just using two ingredients: cabbage and salt. The salt pulls liquid out of the vegetable and makes it easier to submerge the vegetable in its own juices in a jar for fermentation. 

To make sauerkraut all you need is literally a cabbage and some salt. Any old cabbage will do: At the workshop we worked with cannonball cabbage and red cabbage and we had kimchi made from cannonball cabbage and Chinese pointed cabbage. I also love using Savoy cabbage for its chewy texture! 

However, any old salt won’t do.
As I am sure you are aware already, there is a difference between salt and salt: table salt/refined salt and unrefined salt as refined salt is harvested mechanically from salt mines as brine and is a a highly concentrated salt and water blend which is chemically treated to remove “impurities”(a wide range of minerals that are beneficial for you).
It is also bleached with chlorine and sulphuric acid, dried at extremely high temperatures and has anti-caking agents added to it such as aluminum silicate, sodium ferrocyanide and ammonium citrate – not good for you!

So please spend a little extra and get a hold of unrefined sea salt such as Celtic sea or pink Himalayan salt as these contain more than 80 trace minerals. Fermenting with good salt will still be much cheaper than buying a jar of kimchi at WholeFoods!

 Rubykraut – if a three-year-old can do it, so can you!

Rubykraut – if a three-year-old can do it, so can you!

  1. Prepare a clean jar for fermentation.
  2. Split your cabbage in two and then, depending on the size of it, either start finely chopping it into shreds or quarter it before doing so. Use as much cabbage as you want sauerkraut and keep in mind that it will shrink quite a lot.
  3. Once all the cabbage is prepared place it in a large bowl and add salt. I use 1 good tbsp for 1 litre of sauerkraut, but this is a taste preference. Feel your way. 
  4. Massage the salt into the cabbage until the cabbage goes limp. I know, it feels as it will never go limp, but then suddenly it does!
  5. Leave the salt to pull liquid from the cabbage for min. 15 minutes. 
  6. Return to the cabbage and start squeezing out the liquid. 
  7. Once the cabbage has had quite a bit of juice come out of it begin filling the jar with it, squeezing the cabbage as you go. I like doing a big batch of kraut in a large jar so I can get my whole fist in there and push down with all my weight to submerge the cabbage in its own juices. 
  8. If you don't have quite enough juice to cover the cabbage simply top up with a bit of filtered water. 
  9. Cover with a cloth or kitchen paper and secure with a rubber band. Leave to ferment in a warm place out of direct sunlight for 3-7 days, tasting it as you go.
  10. When you are happy with the flavour, pop the lid on and store in the fridge.
  11. It is always useful to label your ferments with contents and date as it is easy to lose count of how long it has been fermenting, especially if you have several on the go at once!

If you would like to ferment any other vegetables such as the vegetable combination we know as kimchi the Korean sauerkraut, repeat step 1-4, then:

  • While the salt is working its magic on the cabbage, grate some carrots, chop some spring onions, crush a couple of garlic cloves, finely grate 1 tbsp or more of fresh finger and slice some chillies.
    Grated radishes, sliced pak choy and torn kale is also welcome.
  • Add the vegetables to the cabbage and massage the mix for another 2-3 minutes, then leave to wilt for approx. 15 minutes.
  • If you would like to add additional ingredients such as smoked paprika powder, sesame seeds, liquid aminoes or other creative ideas, add them to the vegetables and mix together. 
  • Start squeezing out the liquid of the vegetable mix.
  • Once the veggies has had quite a bit of juice come out of it begin filling the jar with it, squeezing the veg as you go, just as you do with regular kraut.
  • If you don't have quite enough juice to cover the vegetables simply top up with a bit of filtered water. 
  • Cover with a cloth or kitchen paper and secure with a rubber band. Leave to ferment in a warm place out of direct sunlight for 3-7 days, tasting it as you go.
  • When you are happy with the flavour, pop the lid on and store in the fridge.

If you want to ferment anything else, such as grated beetroot, carrots, Jerusalem artichokes or different cabbages, simply use the same method for any vegetable combination you'd like to ferment. A kraut does not need to contain cabbage at all! 
Garlic, herbs such as rosemary and oregano and spices such as caraway seeds and fennel seeds are welcome additions to any ferments. 
Practise makes perfect and fermentation is really a creative process so feel free to try lots of different things! 

 Smoked paprika kimchi being prepared one week before the event

Smoked paprika kimchi being prepared one week before the event


Vegan coconut yougurt 

Home made yogurt that is vegan, easy to make and guaranteed to have a much wider bacterial range than the stuff you buy in the shops – and much cheaper, too!

Commercially produced yogurt comes from a narrow bacterial starter and if one eats the same brand of yogurt again and again there is little bacterial variety. If you make your own however, you may vary your starter culture and additionally the yogurt has the added benefit of interacting with whatever is floating around it in the air at the time of fermentation.

You will need:
1 packet (200 g) creamed coconut
300 ml filtered  boiled water + extra boiled water
2 small or one large capsule(s) of probiotics OR 2 tbsp old coconut yogurt OR 1 tbsp unpasteurised liquid whey

  • Prepare a clean jar for fermentation 
  • Pop the creamed coconut packed into a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 5 min.
  • Massage the creamed coconut to soften it, then cut open and empty the contents in an empty bowl.
  • Add 300 ml of boiled filtered water, whisking as you go.
  • Once the mixture is well blended and no lumps remain, leave to cool to room temp.
  • Once cool, add your starter culture and stir
  • Cover with a cloth or kitchen paper and secure with a rubber band. Leave to ferment in a warm place out of direct sunlight for 24-36-48 hours, tasting it as you go.
  • When you are happy with the flavour, pop the lid on and store in the fridge. The yogurt will thicken as it cools. 
 Coconut yogurt with fruit, berries, honey and raw flapjack chunks were served as dessert at the workshop, but goes down as a super healthy and satisfying breakfast most days in my house

Coconut yogurt with fruit, berries, honey and raw flapjack chunks were served as dessert at the workshop, but goes down as a super healthy and satisfying breakfast most days in my house


Probiotic Ketchup

We all love ketchup, so wouldn't it be great if it was good for you too? Luckily, there is such a ting. Probiotic ketchup is quick to make, can be adjusted to suit one's taste preferences and is full of delicious healthy bacteria. 

In order to make it, all you really need to do is make the best tomato sauce you can think of, supply acidity and sweetness, blend and ferment with a starter culture. This is the recipe that was served at the workshop, but feel free to add your own flavours such as herbs, wine, smoke, chilli and more or less sweetness.

Ingredients:

1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
700 ml passata (I use the Biona one from a glass bottle = gives you a free bottle for your ketchup!)
7 tbsp apple cider vinegar
5 tbsp maple syrup
Salt and pepper
Starter culture: sauerkraut juice or kimchi juice makes the tastiest ketchup. 
2 small or one large capsule(s) of probiotics OR 1 tbsp unpasteurised liquid whey also works.

  • Fry the onion over medium heat in coconut oil until soft and sweet
  • Add the garlic, bay leaves and vinegar and fry for 2 minutes
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil.
  • Once hot, turn down the heat and simmer for 1-2 hours until thick and tasty
  • Blend until smooth, check for taste and alternatively add more vinegar/maple syrup/salt
  • Let cool down to room temperature then add your starter culture and mix well
  • Pour the ketchup into a bottle or jar, cover with a cloth or kitchen paper and secure with a rubber band. Leave to ferment in a warm place out of direct sunlight for 3-5 days, tasting it as you go.
  • When you are happy with the flavour, pop the lid on and store in the fridge. 

Junk food cannot end obesity

Through my studies at the School of Natural Medicine I came across an old article published in The Atlantic titled How Junk Food Can End Obesity.
It was written by David H. Freedman in 2013 and it infuriated me, but I soon came to realise that this article was incredibly useful as it picks up many questions that the public may have relating organic produce, so-called "health food" versus processed food and why some people are  adamant about buying seasonal produce when science has brought us strawberries in January.

I wrote a public response letter to this article which you will find below. In it I pick apart the claims made in the article relating to local produce, fructose and sugar consumption, fat consumption, calorie intake, food additives, food politics and more. My claims are all evidence-based and footnotes with active links can be found throughout my piece. 

The Atlantic article can be found here and below is my response interspersed by photographs of our garden which for me is a symbol of mother earth, whom I love dearly and wish to always treat with respect.


Let us start where the article starts: with “a delicious blueberry-pomegranate smoothie that rang in at a relatively modest 220 calories” from McDonald’s that is both cheaper, quicker to make and, according to the author, tastier than a 300 calorie “apple-blueberry-kale-carrot smoothie-juice” from an independent café in Ohio.

The trouble with counting calories instead of nutrients is that you don’t get the big picture: the overall view of what this food will do for your health. 

The blueberry-pomegranate smoothie from McDonald’s has a much higher sugar content than the two other drinks mentioned which is a big problem to start off with.
Fructose, or “fruit sugar” has no biological function within the body. It is poorly digested by the GI tract and can derange liver function as the liver has to work very hard to process it. Dietary fructose impacts LDL particle size, making the LDL cholesterol particles larger and more dangerous. Large LDL particles can lead to heart disease while small LDL particles have valuable functions in the body(1).

In a study conducted by Aeberli et al.(2), dietary factors, especially fructose, were examined in relation to body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, plasma lipid profile, and LDL particle size in 74 Swiss schoolchildren who were 6–14 years old. In that study, 

blood triglycerides (dangerous cholesterol) were higher, HDL-cholesterol (good cholesterol) concentrations were lower, and LDL particle size was smaller (this is not a good thing) in the overweight children than in the normal-weight children. Fatter children had smaller LDL particle size and, even after control for adiposity, dietary fructose intake was the only dietary factor related to LDL particle size. In this study it was the free fructose, not sucrose, that was related to the effect of LDL particle size. 

Another recent report has proposed a hypothesis relating fructose intake to the long-known relation between uric acid and heart disease(3).

This is not me saying you should avoid fruit, fruit juices and smoothies with fruit, but rather me mindful of how much fructose there is in the diet.
When eating a whole fruit like a fresh, organic apple there are many other nutrients that justifies eating that apple and there is fibre to slow down the digestion of the apple in addition to being beneficial to the body in itself. With fruit juice and smoothies however it is easier to consume much bigger quantities of fructose. Additionally, when this fruit is commercially grown and shipped from far away (which the McDonald’s smoothie ingredients undoubtedly are) it is depleted of nutrient and gives little to the body but fructose. 

As well as finding lots of natural fructose in the McDonald’s smoothie it is also loaded with sucrose.
Sucrose – in this case white, refined sugar, consists of 50/50 glucose and fructose. Glucose is stored in the body as energy and thus useful (in small amounts), but as already mentioned fructose is completely useless for the body and white, refined sugar is literal poison to the human body.

A McDonald’s smoothie contains approximately 60 grams of sugar, the equivalent of 14 1/2 teaspoons, from both the fruit juices and purees in addition to the added sugar in the smoothie base and in the yogurt(4).
Refined sugar – white sugar, the “everyday” kind – is highly processed and very harmful to the body: this is more or less common knowledge these days(5), but many are not aware of how much sugar in the shape of both refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is hiding in our food. 


Sugar adds no nutritional value to food whatsoever and is an antinutrient as it depletes the body of minerals due to its highly acidic nature.
When processing a highly acidic food such as sugar (and other processed foods as well as animal products, for that matter) the body needs to regains its PH balance and will do so by drawing valuable alkaline minerals from the body. Calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium are all valuable alkaline minerals for bone and dental health, nervous system function, kidney health, metabolism, cardiovascular health, digestion and much, much more that are being depleted every time we eat overly acidic food.

Sugar has been shown to promote tumour growth in the human body and lead to many types of cancers(6, 7), it is mucus forming and highly addictive, even more so than cocaine(8), and can act in the brain just like drug abuse(9) – yet it is legal. It is inflammatory, promotes obesity(10) and heart disease(11). More sugar makes the body less able to cope with disease and recuperate from the damage caused by the sugar. It is a vicious cycle. Put simply, sugar is a pure carbohydrate with all fibre and nutrition stripped off, is metabolised by the liver in the same way as ethanol and is equally dangerous.

Lastly, the freshness of the fruit involved in the McDonald’s smoothie is questionable at best, which is why you are able to “get this concoction just about anywhere”.
I can guarantee you that it is not organic for starters and thus loaded with carcinogenic pesticides (more on that later), that it has been shipped from far away and lots a lot of valuable nutrient in the process as well as being subjected to ethylene gas in the transport process. 

This way of bringing produce from the farmer to the consumer does not only bode bad for the nutritional content of the food, it also adversely affects the environment as the travel miles of the produce will contribute to the load of transport pollution we subject the atmosphere and out waters to every day. Your average produce travels 1500 miles from where it was grown to where it is consumed and by supporting smaller and local juiceries such as the Ohio based café mentioned in the article you are doing both yourself and the planet a huge favour.

Moving on to calories. In the article, Freedman muses that “many of the dishes glorified by the wholesome-food movement are as caloric as anything served at Burger King.”
There it is again, the calorie card! Right, let’s talk about what is wrong with obsessively counting calories as a way of assessing whether or not the food in question is good for you.

When a dish made from fresh produce such as beets and kale (used as an example in the article) is higher in calories than “anything served at Burger King”, which meal shall we go for? 

The thing is, a calorie is not just a calorie. For example, obesity-promoting (12) HFCS (13) is not metabolised like other foodstuffs and doesn’t contain any calories so it does not raise the calorie count of a meal even though it is highly detrimental to health. 

Refined sugar, however, is a calorie, but when choosing between a meal that contains 10% of calories in the form of sugar or 15% of calories in the form of saturated fat or carbohydrates from a whole grain or a plant protein you should definitely choose the latter regardless of this being the higher calorie option.

This is because in religiously avoiding calories we omit many health promoting foods. By for example avoiding a food that is high in good fats we end up getting hungrier sooner and falling off the diet-wagon as we grab the closest possible thing to eat. We also need fats in our diet to absorb the vital fat-soluble vitamins as A, D, E and K and for many other reasons (14) and obsessively counting calories will remove the health benefits of these foods. Low-fat foods often have sugar or calorie-free HFCS added to them to make them palatable: I will come back to fats and sugar later.

Most of the calories in a Big Mac, as we will see in just a little while, comes from corn starch and I bet you the Burger King menu items are not much different.

Genetically modified corn is found in most fast foods in the form of “fillers” in processed meat products, in bread products, in the coating of foods and a the sweetener high fructose corny syrup. The ingestion of genetically modified corn leads to toxicity, food allergies, infertility, birth defects, cancers and damaged DNA.
Many will argue that this has not been “scientifically proven” and indeed this is true: there has been no major study on humans when it comes to the effects of ingesting genetically modified foods.
However, what has become known as The French Study clearly showed that genetically modified foods promoted horrifying tumours in rats (15) and this gives us some inclination as to what it might be doing to us. Unfortunately there are many large corporations that do not wish testing to be done on a larger scale as there is a lot of money at stake. Scientists have been ruined and had their reputation during dismantled in pursuit of legitimate research into genetically modified food.

HFCS contains, as you might guess, incredible amounts of fructose which, as already mentioned, leads to fatty liver disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, dementia and cardiovascular disease. There are also many dangerous chemicals and heavy metals involved in the making of HFCS, mercury being one, that over time accumulate in the body (16) and causes irreparable damage.

In addition to the problem with sugar, HFCS and corn in terms of counting calories, the calorie card also does not makes sense when we bring meat into the equation. 

Farm-raised meat has a completely different constitution to pasture-fed meat and this is not accounted for when Burger King count their calories: for them a burger is a burger.
But it is not so. Corn fed beef had much more inflammatory promoting omega-6 fatty acids than pasture fed beef (17) as corn feed changes the constitution of livestock tissue. Similarly, farm-raised salmon (and I can guarantee you that Burger King does not serve wild caught fish) is substantially different (18) from wild salmon and contains 46% more calories. Thus we again see how counting calories does not necessarily give one the right idea of the overall healthiness of the meal in question. 

On a side note on calorie counting: labelling law legally allows for a 20% margin of error on nutritional facts. A quote from the FDA Guidance for Industry, Nutrition Labeling Manual states that: 

“[T]he ratio between the amount obtained by laboratory analysis and the amount declared on the product label in the Nutrition Facts panel must be 120% or less, i.e., the label is considered to be out of compliance if the nutrient content of a composite of the product is greater than 20% above the value declared on the label.”  

So when Burger King claims that a meal contains 500 calories, it could be nearly 600. Legally. 

Choosing lower calorie fast food options over whole foods is dangerous as all food calories do not have the same impact on fat storage and energy expenditure regardless if they are a fat, protein or carbohydrate. Many highly processed calories like sugary foods take no energy to digest at all and only give frenetic blood sugar spikes (followed by blood sugar lows and the desire to eat more) by way of energy burst and the body stores the sugar that is not used as fat.
On the other hand the body uses more energy on digesting whole foods which in turn slowly release nutrients into the body and keep us fuller for longer and provides a more stable energy level.

“The difference between losing weight and not losing weight is a few hundred calories a day.” says Dr. Robert Kushner in the article.
There is, as we see, a big difference between calories and calories. Dr. Lustig rightly says that “When God made the poison, he packed it with the antidote”: fructose in nature is found only in high fibre foods and by taking away the fibre and adding a lot of fructose to the diet we are spurring on the obesity crisis. This crisis will not be resolved by counting and limiting calories, but by eating proper food.
Fresh whole foods provide important fibre, valuable nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, essential fats and protective antioxidants that help regulate metabolism and protect the body from disease.

In the same way that we have calories and calories we have fats and fats.
Fats have been demonised and made out to be the culprit of the obesity epidemic as well as the cause of cardiovascular disease: this is known as the so-called “lipid hypothesis”. 

Interestingly, the article supports this hypothesis while choosing to completely disregard the fattening aspects of fructose: 30% of fructose ads up as fat in the body and in Dr. Lustig’s famous talk The Bitter Truth he shows how researchers ended up with the double amount of triglycerides in their blood after following a high-fructose diet for only six days. Six. Days.

Fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar does.
A low fat product from McDonald’s isn’t going to make you any healthier because this product would be disgusting if it has not been tweaked with sugar in one way shape or form. HFCS is one of the most common ways to make low fat products edible, to lend them health claims by virtue of being low on fat and to limit the calorie count of the product.
I will guarantee you that the “low-fat salad dressing that was better than any I’ve ever had” mentioned in the article was loaded with HFCS, refined salt and worse…

But more on food additives and chemicals later. For now, lets us for the sake of argument look at fat and the two items compared in the article.

In the article the author has a go at a product called the Vegan Cheesy Salad Booster (VCSB for ease) and points out that “what the stuff does contain is more than three times the fat content per ounce of the beef patty in a Big Mac (meaning that more than two thirds of the calories come from fat) and four times the sodium.” 

However, the article neglects to mention what kinds of fat we are talking about here.

The complete ingredients list of the VCSB is “Sprouted Organic Pumpkin Seeds, Sprouted Organic Sunflower Seeds, Organic Sesame Seeds, Organic High-Protein Chlorella, Organic Organic Red Bell Pepper, Organic Herbs and Spices (including garlic, onion and chilies), Himalayan Crystal Salt, Nutritional Yeast, Organic White Chia Seed, Organic Spirulina, Organic Dulse and Organic Kelp(19)”.

Just for fun I am now going to present the ingredient list of a Big Mac, all from the official Mc Donald’s PDF (20) (feel free to skip this part unless you are a total geek like me):

Bun: Enriched Flour (Bleached Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup and/or Sugar, Yeast, Soybean Oil and/or Canola Oil, Contains 2% or Less: Salt, Wheat Gluten, Calcium Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Ammonium Sulfate, Ammonium Chloride, Dough Conditioners (May Contain One or More of: Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, DATEM, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide, Mono and Diglycerides, Ethoxylated Monoglycerides, Monocalcium Phosphate, Enzymes, Guar Gum, Calcium Peroxide), Sorbic Acid, Calcium Propionate and/or Sodium Propionate (Preservatives), Soy Lecithin, Sesame Seed.

Cheese: Milk, Cream, Water, Cheese Culture, Sodium Citrate, Contains 2% or Less of: Salt, Citric Acid, Sodium Phosphate, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Lactic Acid, Acetic Acid, Enzymes, Sodium Pyrophosphate, Natural Flavor (Dairy Source), Color Added, Soy Lecithin (Added for Slice Separation).

Sauce: Soybean Oil, Pickle Relish (Diced Pickles, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Vinegar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate [Preservative], Spice Extractives, Polysorbate 80), Distilled Vinegar, Water, Egg Yolks, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Onion Powder, Mustard Seed, Salt, Spices, Propylene Glycol Alginate, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Mustard Bran, Sugar, Garlic Powder, Vegetable Protein (Hydrolyzed Corn, Soy and Wheat), Caramel Color, Extractives of Paprika, Soy Lecithin, Turmeric (Color), Calcium Disodium EDTA (Protect Flavor).

Pickle slices: Cucumbers, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Alum, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Natural Flavors (Plant Source), Polysorbate 80, Extractives of Turmeric (Color).

Beef: 100% Pure USDA Inspected Beef; No Fillers, No Extenders.
Prepared with Grill Seasoning (Salt, Black Pepper)

Lettuce and onions: … Are actually just lettuce and onions! 
 

We see that the components of a Big Mac aren’t as simple as they might look.  

The bun is full of genetically modified corn as well as HFCS, highly unstable and cancer promoting polyunsaturated oils such as canola and soybean oil (also often genetically modified) and some crazy sounding “dough conditioners” that I would want nowhere near my body. The cheese is not just cheese, but a chemistry experiment of food colouring and soy.
The sauce contains no less than FOUR different sugars: HFCS, from corn as already mentioned; sugar; corn syrup and xanthan gum – also derived from corn. It packs in even more corn as vegetable protein, just for fun.

Oh, side note: that thing called propylene glycol alginate is commonly found in anti-freeze, engine coolants and shampoo. It can be as low calorie and fat as it wants to, but I don’t want to eat it.

Lastly, there is the beef. As I have already covered in this article, commercially raised beef does not have the nutritional content of beef like we used to have beef.

Additionally the livestock that are being raised in factory farms are unhealthy and dying by the time they reach the slaughterhouse, they are pumped full of antibiotics and the meat itself is saturated by corn because of the corn heavy livestock feed. Again genetically modified corn finds its way into the burger.

Back to fats. Aside from all the other nasties in this burger, if we were to look at the fat content alone and compare it with the Vegan Cheesy Salad Booster and then make an informed decision on which one to eat, which one would it be?

The fats in the VCSB are coming from saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids from organic seeds while in the burger there is a mix of saturated fats from milk/cream and meat alongside polyunsaturated fats from canola and soybean oil.

The saturated and monounsaturated fats in the VCSB are coming in an untreated form and are stable, safe and health promoting. The seeds in the VCSB are high in essential and anti-inflammatory omega-3s and the fats in the VCSB are heart healthy, supports hormone production, metabolism, cell regeneration, fertility, lung health, correct nervous system function, support the immune system, promote bone calcium incorporation and protect the liver.


In the making of the Big Mac the unstable polyunsaturated fats of the vegetable oils are subjected to high heat and their bonds begin to break. When these unstable oils are ingested they attack the body in the form of free radicals (21) and eating these oils leads to cancer, obesity, inflammatory diseases, autoimmune diseases and cardiovascular disease.
As already mentioned the corn fed beef in a Big Mac is high in omega-6 which is an inflammatory promoting fat which we get far too much of in a western diet. 

A Big Mac also contains 1.3 grams trans fat per item. Trans fats are created in the process of hydrogenation of vegetable oils in order to turn them from liquid in room temperature to solid (think margarine). The vegetable oil is artificially saturated with hydrogen, but since this is done by humans and not by nature the final product ends up with an unnatural chemical structure and our bodies have trouble breaking them down. For example, cell walls made out of trans fats are unable to open and close to let nutrients in and waste out. Trans fats also stop our cell receptors from functioning properly, which may be why trans fats contribute to diabetes type 2 (as this is a condition where the insulin receptors in the body are not responding). Trans fats, not cholesterol, seem to be the reason for artery clogging and heart attacks according to many studies (22)  and are so dangerous they have actually been banned in many countries.
The presence of trans fats in a Big Mac is reason enough alone not to eat it, but looking at the big picture of the different fats involved in these food items should be enough to tell you which one to choose for your health.

Lastly, when comparing these two foods it is necessary to talk about the portion size. The fat ratio of a bag of VCSB is higher than in a single Big Mac yes, but one bag of VCSB contains over 6 servings of the stuff! While I can easily envision someone eating a Big Mac in one sitting I have a harder time seeing someone eating a bag of VCSB by the spoonful. 

Keep this is mind when we talk about the sodium content of the two items, a concern of the author of the article in question. The sodium in the VCSB comes from Himalayan crystal salt, nutritional yeast and the sea vegetables dulse and kelp, all of which have a lot of nutritional chutzpah going for them with the Himalayan salt packing in over 80 trace minerals alone.
Comparatively the Big Mac sodium content comes from refined salt. This salt is harvested mechanically from salt mines as brine, a highly concentrated salt and water blend which is chemically treated to remove “impurities”: these “impurities” being a wide range of beneficial minerals. Then the salt is bleached with chlorine and sulphuric acid to make the salt sparkling white before it is dried at extremely high temperatures which alter the chemical structure of the salt. Finally the salt has anti-caking agents added to it such as aluminum silicate, sodium ferrocyanide and ammonium citrate – not good for you!
Salt is mentioned on the Big Mac ingredients list five times.

When you eat one Big Mac you ingest 1007 mg sodium, over 40% of your RDA. When you eat on serving (14 grams) of VCSB you ingest 272 mg sodium, or 11% of your RDA.

As for the Trader Joe’s snack food called Inner Peas, it doesn't sound too good and this may be the only time I ever agree with the article. However, the Inner Peas product is a processed snack food and not a whole food made from fresh farm vegetables and does not make any health claims. I suppose you can’t blame the author for picking just one health food battle he would be sure to win…

Moving on to preservatives, additives and genetically modified food, Freedman isn't too worried about these and neither about the nutrient intake of his fellow Americans. “The fact is, there is simply no clear, credible evidence that any aspect of food processing or storage makes a food uniquely unhealthy.” he states. 

Let us begin with unnatural additives to food. Foods that have been listed as GRAS (Generally Recognised As Safe) are exempted from mention on labelling. 

This includes MSG, a flavour-enhancer recent studies have shown contributes to obesity and can cause adverse health effects such as muscle tightness, fatigue, numbness and headaches (23) and childhood exposure can lead to behavioural problems, learning difficulties and endocrine problems later in life (24). MSG is allowed simply to be listed as “flavour”. 

Adding chemicals to food are often done so to expand the shelf life, improve flavour and change the look of the food.
The reason for this is because the produce that make up these foods are often in such bad shape that they would not be palatable without flavour enhancers – this is why these foods are so cheap. By buying produce that is already heavily sprayed with carcinogenic pesticides and herbicides that have been grown extremely cheaply the cost of production is kept down. As refined sugar and salt is cheap a cheap way of manipulating flavour in addition to being preservatives these are added so that the product is made palatable while still being cost effective and as we know, excess sugar and salt in the diet is poisonous (not to mention the detrimental health effects of HFCS). 

Lastly something has to be done to tweak the look, texture and flavour of the product as well as ensure that it will have the crazy long shelf life we have become accustomed to today.
Many food colourings have been banned in Scandinavia and other parts of Europe because of their probable carcinogenic properties. It is widely recognised that for example ingestion of Allura Red can over time lead to allergies, food intolerance, cancer, multiple sclerosis, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, brain damage, nausea, cardiac disease and asthma (25).

The food additives BHT, BHA and TBHQ are benzoate preservatives are added to fatty foods to prevent their rancidity, which would have been a good thing if it wasn’t for their leading to ADHD, according to a 2012 study.

Nitrates, a group of preservatives, have been found to promote thyroid cancer (26). Sodium benzoate, another preservative, can react with Vitamin C in the food and create the carcinogen benzine and in 2007 an article published in The Lancelet presented a correlation between this preservative and hyperactivity disorders (27).
Aspartame, a commonly used sweetener, has been found to promote leukaemia and other cancers(28)

Lastly, many processed foods contain already mentioned dangerous trans fats.
I could go on, but I would have to write another post. 

In addition to the additives IN the food, a lot of dangerous chemicals are found in the packaging of food which then seeps into the product itself. Bisphenol-A and -S as well as phthalates are chemical compounds found in plastic and are known carcinogens as well as being obesity- and allergy-promoting(29 30 31).  

The already mentioned “French Study” by Seralini at the University of Caen is the only animal study ever performed with genetically modified foods. 

The rats were fed GM corn for just 30 days and all of them developed tumours, liver and kidney damage. 50% of male rats and 70% of female rats died prematurely. The rats were also given drinking water with Roundup fertiliser – a fertiliser commonly used in commercial agriculture – which promoted a 200-300% increase in tumour growth. This study was done on the allowable amounts of the fertiliser in drinking water, the legal limit. Think about that for a second.

All food not labelled organic have been grown using chemicals that have serious impacts on human health, from short-term impacts such as nausea and headaches to long term-implications such as asthma(32), allergies, birth defects(33), Parkinson’s disease(34), cancers(35) , ADD, ADHD(36) and autism(37 38)

A lot of genetically modified foods are genetically modified to withstand certain fertilisers, including Roundup. So when you eat a vegetable or fruit that is GM, its flesh is most likely loaded with this or a similar fertiliser.
Whatever the nutritional value of the Trader Joe’s “Inner Peas” product is, at least it is GMO-free as Trader Joe’s went GMO free in 2011. Unlike, for example, Burger King.

That there is “simply no clear, credible evidence that any aspect of food processing or storage makes a food uniquely unhealthy” is an outright lie.

That “the U.S. population does not suffer from a critical lack of any nutrient, because we eat so much processed food” is another.
Codex Alimentarius, the inter-governmental body responsible for setting global guidelines for food labelling, food additives and pesticide residues, also decides the thresholds for nutrient deficiencies and have reduced the dietary supplement guidelines for vitamins and minerals to low levels (the maximum level of vitamin C is 225 mg!) which makes it difficult for ordinary people to gauge how much they need in order to stay healthy. The truth is that we need much more nutrient that the guideline suggest and we only need to look around us to see that this is true.

The consumption of processed foods are clearly the main scapegoat of the western disease epidemic and nutrient deficiency is a big part of that.
Sufficient nutrients help regulate blood pressure, fat metabolism, blood sugar, heart rhythm, hormone production and so much more as well as being antioxidant, essential for bone health, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-viral and ward off respiratory diseases, allergies, cancers and neurological disease to mention a few.
Preventative measures for cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and dementia, autoimmune disease, obesity, osteoporosis, kidney diseases and digestive disorders can all be found at the tip of a fork.

“These roundly demonised companies could do far more for the public’s health in five years than the wholesome-food movement is likely to accomplish in the next 50.”
I could agree with this excerpt from the article if I was allowed to change just one word: “These roundly demonised companies could do far more TO the public’s health in five years than the wholesome-food movement is likely to accomplish in the next 50.” 

I am very afraid of what might happen to the public’s health over the next five years because the detrimental development is so rapid and the “wholesome-food movement” is so slow to catch on.
This is because of misleading propaganda such as this article, because of extremely wealthy global companies that buy research to suit their own needs, because of soda manufacturers that are taking over schools and work places and because of the addictive nature, price competitiveness and convenience of processed foods. 

We don’t need more processed foods from WholeFoods, this missing the point completely. Fresh, local and unprocessed whole foods (whole foods, not WholeFoods) that we can cook into meals ourselves are the most nutritious foods around and they are cheaper, too.
Local farmer’s markets are relatively easy to get to (hence the term ‘local’) and if one cares enough to plan ahead for market days they are convenient, much more so than seeking out the nearest fast food restaurant. 

A sandwich that “was delicious and took less than a minute to prepare” is argued to be more “genuinely healthy” than access to 50,000 farmer’s markets and their fresh produce. How? This salmon is probably trawler caught or farmed: this meat will be stuffed full of omega-6, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals due to the nature of the commercial agriculture farming, which is the only way of farm that can supply fish this cheaply. And, as we are about to find out, the salmon really isn’t cheap at all… 

It needs to be acknowledged that cooking your meals yourself from fresh produce does take more time than going to a drive through to pick up a burger.
On the other hand, disease is also time consuming AND expensive: constant trips to the doctor due to a weak disposition that is prone to infections and disease with the associated medical bills, picking up and paying for pharmaceutical medication, not being well enough to work and either losing pay of losing money in taxes that are being paid towards an overrun health care system that struggles to cope with the costs of treating obesity and lifestyle related diseases, time and joy lost in illness that could have been better spent working towards one’s goals. 


The market price for ‘cheap’ foods aren’t so cheap when we count the money tax payers are paying towards subsidies. Because 62% of the US government food subsidies go to animal food alone the real price of a burger is $50 (approx. £40) (39). Less than 1% goes to fruit and vegetable production.

Raj Patel, author of The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy, has said that the real cost of a hamburger should be about $200 when we add the environmental costs only(40). This does not include subsidies, medical bills and real wages for workers in the commercial animal agriculture industry, which are also part of the real cost(41).
This is the most expensive (non)food in history, paid for by tax money, health insurance and pharmaceutical drugs while the industries that feed off the planting, harvesting and processing of cheap produce and a diseased population prosper.


If the focus already was on supplying the demand for whole foods, we would not need to be “creating farms” as the article suggests: the reason we have mostly large factory farms is the subsidies system as governments value monocrops in favour of polyculture. Farmers today specialise in growing just one thing over and over again and this depletes the soil of nutrient, making the farmers reliant on pesticides and produces nutrient deficient food. Ironically, modern farmers today grown industrial quantities of food without being able to feed themselves. 

This food subsidy system is a huge problem that has grown increasingly complex over the years and needs to be solved by our governments.

“Even if America somehow becomes absolutely saturated with highly affordable outlets for wholesome, locally sourced dishes, what percentage of the junk-food-eating obese will be ready to drop their Big Macs, fries, and Cokes for grilled salmon on chard?” asks Freedman.
I agree that “We’re not going to solve this problem by telling people to eat unprocessed food”, but the problem is just so much more complex.

The access to healthy food is limited: as the article correctly states, processed food is cheap (“cheap”) and accessible.
In the documentary Kind Corn a hispanic family were struggling to find a single vegetable in a grocery store that was cheaper than a Big Mac.
We have arrived at this mind boggling scenario because of the millions of dollars/pounds/euros/you name it being paid as taxes to support the dysfunctional subsides system of animal food production and monocrop farming, a system which produces nutrient deficient food laden with pesticides, herbicides and hormones that need to have carcinogenic and hazardous chemicals, salt and sugar added to them in order to be made palatable. Do you think people want to be obese or want their children to die before them after a life fraught with illness and obesity?
We – all members of the modern and not just the western world – are being fed misinformation from the very body that should be protecting us: the government. We have been forced into the role of accomplices to keep this machine going and it seems difficult to see how we can get out.

When the public knew that it was a splurge, a little naughty, to go to a fast food joint for lunch once in a while they restricted themselves to that occasional visit. When health claims are being made by McDonald’s people think they are doing the right thing by choosing what is marketed as healthier products, not understanding why they are getting sicker and sicker. 

 

“Executives of giant food companies are not stupid.”
I absolutely agree with that. They are very clever and they manage to trick people into thinking that their foods are healthier because they are low in calories and fats, when in fact they are doing even more damage than before. 


 1: http://www.docsopinion.com/2013/10/20/ldl-cholesterol-particle-number-particle-size-made-easy/

2:http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/86/4/1174.abstractijkey=c4c18e8328e05dd1262451ebd0d607505c98efb5&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha

3:  http://ajprenal.physiology.org/content/290/3/F625?ijkey=6929de1d30cb66083253d84119ce9dd4599aca8d&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha

4:https://www.thestar.com/life/health_wellness/nutrition/2012/04/26/mcdonalds_smoothie_equivalent_to_14_teaspoons_of_sugar_the_dish.html

5: http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2506644

6:Lajous, M., Boutron-Ruault, M.-C., Fabre, A., Clavel-Chapelon, F. & Romieu, I. Carbohydrate intake, glycemic index, glycemic load, and risk of postmenopausal breast cancer in a prospective study of French women. Am J Clin Nutr 87, 1384–1391 (2008).

7:Champ, C. E., Volek, J. S., Siglin, J., Jin, L. & Simone, N. L. Weight Gain, Metabolic Syndrome, and Breast Cancer Recurrence: Are Dietary Recommendations Supported by the Data? Int. J. Breast Cancer 2012, 9 (2012).

8:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/connie-bennett/the-rats-who-preferred-su_b_712254.html

9:http://www.foodaddictionsummit.org/docs/Hoebel-sugaraddiction.pdf

10:https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2009/06/8187/obesity-and-metabolic-syndrome-driven-fructose-sugar-diet

11:http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/11/sugar-heart-disease.aspx

12: http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S26/91/22K07/

13: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3522469/ 

14:http://www.alienseas.com/journal/2016/6/15/6q431488i8mpcw61m9w51bbvnkapas

15:http://www.motherearthnews.com/natural-health/nutrition/gmo-safety-zmgz13amzsto

16:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/high-fructose-corn-syrup_b_4256220.html

17:https://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/26261/PDF

18: https://authoritynutrition.com/wild-vs-farmed-salmon/

19:  https://www.livingintentions.com/store/products/salad-booster/vegan-cheesy.html

20:  http://nutrition.mcdonalds.com/getnutrition/ingredientslist.pdf

21:   http://www.cavemandoctor.com/2012/02/25/vegetables-oils-the-refining-of-our-health/

22: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/105/6/697.abstract

23:  YANG, W. H., M. A. DROUIN, M. HERBERT, Y. MAO, AND J. KARSH. “THE MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE SYMPTOM COMPLEX: ASSESSMENT IN A DOUBLE-BLIND, PLACEBO-CONTROLLED, RANDOMIZED STUDY.” THE JOURNAL OF ALLERGY AND CLINICAL IMMUNOLOGY PART 1 99.6 (1997): 757-62. PRINT.

24:  BLAYLOCK, RUSSELL. “FOOD ADDITIVES: WHAT YOU EAT CAN KILL YOU.” THE BLAYLOCK WELLNESS REPORT 4 (OCT. 2007): 3-4. PRINT.

25:  Extraction, Analytical and Advanced Methods for Detection of Allura Red AC (E129) in Food and Beverages Products Kobun Rovina,1 Shafiquzzaman Siddiquee,1,* and Sharifudin M. Shaarani2 Front Microbiol. 2016; 7: 798.

26:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3443521/

27: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140673607613063/abstract

28: http://www.rense.com/general67/asdp.htm

29: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/01/30/pvc-plastic-chemical-exposure.aspx

30: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28099427

31: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28141789 

32: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21368619

33:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2667895/

34: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16451848

35:  Osburn, S. 2001. Research Report: Do Pesticides Cause Lymphoma? Lymphoma Foundation of America. Anne Arbor, MI. 

36: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100517132846.htm

37: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17938740

38: http://sph.berkeley.edu/autism-risk-higher-near-pesticide-treated-fields

39:  http://usmfreepress.org/2013/04/29/meat-subsidies-strip-other-food-industries-to-the-bone/

40: https://www.democracynow.org/2010/1/12/raj_patel_on_the_value_of

41: http://www.naturalnews.com/033011_beef_cost.html#ixzz4XFypkYFX

Dieta: Sweets and snacks PLUS where to eat in London

I am a big occasional snacker.
I go through phases of not wanting to eat much at all and feeling as if I can hop on a juice fast any minute, but then there are the phases where I eat CON-STAN-TLY.
I really try to embrace whatever my body is going through and respect its wishes, although it can be hard to distinguish between real hunger and just emotional hunger, i.e. "I am bored" or "I have had a hard day" kind of snacking (quick tip: have a large glass of water or a cup of tea. If you are still hungry 5 minutes after finishing it, you're actually hungry).

If I find that I really AM hungry, it is important to keep some healthy snacks on hand so I don't go off the rails and eat something ridiculous. 
This, of course, is especially important when following a dieta so that you may snack away and not stray from the path.

Therefore I would like to share with you some vegan, salt/sugar/gluten free and DELICIOUS sweet and savoury treats that you can have in between breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner...
Or maybe, as is the case for me sometimes, between breakfast and second breakfast.


Mineral milkshake

I love sesame seed milk as sesame seeds (unhulled as they contain 90% more minerals than hulled seeds) are particularly rich in  calcium as well as other minerals such as copper, iron, manganese, zinc and phosphorus.
It has a rather "sesamy" flavour, one you may come to appreciate over time on it's own but which is very easy to disguise with other flavours.
Sesame seed milk is especially good for maintaining bone health as it offers a calcium rich alternative to acidic and mineral-depleting dairy milk.

To make sesame milk, simply soak 120 grams of unhulled sesame seeds in water overnight.
In the morning drain and rinse the seeds and blend with 1 litre of fresh water in a blender for minimum 30 seconds.
Strain the seeds through a musing cloth or nut milk bag (I've had this bag for almost 2 years now, use it several times a week and it still holds!) and bottle. 
Keeps for 36-48 hours in the fridge.

To make the milkshake (for 2):

  • 1 large or 2 small bananas
  • 500 ml sesame milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tbsp maca powder (optional: this will add a mineral boost as well as a lovely malty flavour)
  • Sweeteners of your choice: a couple of dried figs or dates, 2 drops of stevia, 1 tsp honey (optional)

Blend everything together in a blender and serve!


Chia puddings

Chia puddings are super healthy, can come in any flavour and texture, can be adapted to the seasons and are very quick and easy to make – the perfect little dessert pot for an impromptu dinner, for example.
Chia seeds are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. They provide sustained energy as well as maintaining water balance: a great food if you are working on limiting your overall food intake to lose weight.
I am however mostly interested in them as they are rich in essential fatty acids such as omega 3s. Oh, and they are delicious. They fluff up to a "pudding" overnight in liquid and can be used as a base to make many different chia concoctions. 
 

Measure out 15 grams of chia seeds per 115 grams of liquid to make one small, portion-sized pudding. 
You may add 2 tbsp berries (I especially love goji berries for a deliciously chewy antioxidant boost), finely chopped fruit or other seeds to the overnight soak, or perhaps serve with sprinkles of finely chopped nuts or dessicated coconut. 
Here are some recipe suggestions (per person):

  • Chia seeds, freshly squeezed blood orange juice, 1 tbsp goji berries, 1 tbsp passion fruit seeds
  • Chia seeds, tiger nut milk, 2 tbsp finely chopped banana, pinch cinnamon
  • Chia seeds, 50-50 pineapple juice and coconut milk, 1 tbsp flax seeds, pinch nutmeg, serve with desiccated coconut
  • Chia seeds, coconut milk, 2 tbsp goji berries, serve with a teaspoon raw honey and hazelnuts
  • Chia seeds, almond milk, 2 tbsp blackcurrants, serve with chopped almonds

Whisk all the ingredients together in individual pots and leave in the fridge overnight
Add the "served with"-ingredients on top before eating.

 Blood orange juice, goji berries and blackcurrants for a refreshing "second breakfast"-pudding

Blood orange juice, goji berries and blackcurrants for a refreshing "second breakfast"-pudding


Naturally sweet Banana granola

Banana granola!
A new discovery of mine: a way to make granola without using any sweeteners – not even "alternative" ones!
This recipe can be made in the oven or, if you are lucky enough to have one, in the dehydrator. 

  • 500 ml oats
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 100 ml pumpkin seeds, soaked overnight
  • 50 ml flax seeds, soaked overnight
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp gently melted coconut oil at room temperature (if using a dehydrator)

For oven:
Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsiusand prepare a baking tray with baking paper.
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.
Spread out evenly on baking tray.
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until a light golden brown colour., stirring the oats every 5 minutes or so.
Let cool completely before storing.

For dehydrator:
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.
Spread out on one or two dehydrator trays lined with sheets and dehydrate for 3-4 hours on 42 degrees celsius. 
Flip the granola upside down onto a dehydrator tray and dehydrate for a further 4-6 hours.
Let cool completely before storing.


Irresistible nutty kale chips 

These kale chips are certainly not only for dieta! I make them all the time and they are great travel companions.
Apparently leafy greens such as kale has the ability to protect us against radiation from the galaxy when we fly. According to a study on pilots funded by the National Cancer Institute, pilots who consumed the most dietary antioxidants suffered the least amount of damage to their DNA and leafy greens seemed to have the upper hand when it came to radiation protection.
This, in combination with their deliciousness and light weight, makes kale chips the perfect plane snack!

This is a recipe that works for dehydrators or for an oven set on the lowest setting in order to keep the nutrients of the kale intact and make the crisps as crunchy as possible without burning them.

  • Large bunch of kale (about 2 L firmly packed kale)
  • 200 ml cashews soaked overnight, drained
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Tear the kale off its stems (the stems can be juiced or add to a smoothie later), wash it and rip it into little pieces. 
Mix all the other ingredients together with a splash of water in a food processor or with a hand mixer. Add more water if necessary to achieve a creamy consistency.
Add the cashew cream to the kale by the handful and massage it into the kale.
For oven: Prepare a baking tray with baking sheets and spread the kale every out. Bake for 10-12 hours on the lowest setting possible, turning occasionally, until crisp.
For dehydrator: Spread the kale evenly on dehydrator sheets and dehydrate on 42 degrees for about 10 hours, turning halfway, until crisp. 

 Kale chips: the best plane snack!

Kale chips: the best plane snack!


Salt free hummus

Crunchy vegetables dipped in creamy hummus... Surely there is no easier and tastier snack than this? And let's not forget healthier!
Chic peas pack a punch when it comes to both fibre and protein and they are full of essential minerals as well. Sadly, store bought hummus is often saturated with polyunsaturated low quality oils and far too much refined salt. Better to make your own! 

Hummus can easily be made flavourful without salt and it can be knocked up in less than 10 minutes if you have a can of chic peas on hand and impromptu guests arriving.
It can also be frozen in portions and thawed overnight.

  • 1 can chic peas or 375 ml cooked chic peas, drained
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2-1 lemon (I like my hummus very lemony!)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • Optional: a handful sun dried tomatoes (the oil and salt free kind), herbs such as coriander, basil and mint, a handful of peas, 1/2 baked sweet potato, 1 roasted red pepper

Mix all the ingredients together with a hand mixer or in a food processor, adding a few splashes of water as you go until you reach the desired consistency.


Eating out in london on the dieta

I love going out to eat and if I am following a dieta for several weeks it is hard for me to avoid the temptation. Luckily there are many wonderful places in London that are more than happily catering to all sorts of dietary restrictions:

Nurture, the company I work for, obviously has a great selection of vegan food and smoothies! 

Raw press on Dover st. does delicious juice and salads

Rawligion has an inventive raw food menu and fascinating superfood shots

Roots juicery do fantastic nut milks and juices

Nama does wonderful vegan raw food

Redemption has an all vegan menu and an eclectic mocktail list

Vitao is a vegan oasis slap dash in the middle of the city

Campbells Canal Café is my go-to vegan in north London

 Vegan and sugar free treat from Redemption

Vegan and sugar free treat from Redemption

 

... did I forget any? Let me know in the comments below!

 

I hope you have enjoyed the dieta series and that it has inspired you to cook with less salt, sugar, gluten and dairy regardless of whether or not you are cleansing.

My initial post regarding the dieta as well as recipes for hot meals can be found here
The second one on gluten free bread alternatives can be found here
The third on lunch can be found here

Dieta: What's for lunch?

A dieta offers quite a few restrictions and making a tasty lunch, especially if one needs it to be quick and easy, can feel almost impossible.
I have one friend who basically ate rice and fruit for a week in order to stick to the requirements and could not handle the thought of another dieta because of the limits it imposed.
But fear not! There are many tricks up my sleeve and I will share each and every one of them.

Salads are a wonderful addition to any diet and when we are cleansing it is important to eat as much raw, fresh and untreated food as possible.
My regular salads usually incorporate fermented things such as fermented vegetables and vinegar, two things that are banned when following a dieta. I am also a big fan of mustard and maple syrup in dressings as well as vegetables baked with oil – things that have to go when I am cleansing. 
This is why I have created a few lifelines that will make virtually any leafy creation burst with flavour.


DIETA STYLE MAYO

As one is allowed (and benefit from!) good quality, cold pressed organic vegetable oils on the dieta we can make creamy mayonnaise to go with a kale salad or to make a healthy Waldorf.
The presence of fat is also vital for the uptake of the fat soluble vitamins  A, D, E and K and so a must in order for us to receive all the benefits of a brightly coloured salad!

My recommended oils are extra virgin olive oil in a combination with (untoasted!) sesame oil, macadamia nut oil, hazelnut oil or avocado oil.
EVOO on its own is a very powerful taste so I recommend mixing it 40/60 or 50/50 with another oil based on your taste preference.

PLEASE MAKE SURE that all oils are cold pressed, unrefined/unpasteurised and organic!
This means the oils will be more expensive, but ill health is more expensive than anything and these oils will also last for a long time when stored in a dark and cool environment. 

The recipe:

  • 1 egg yolk, preferably room temperature
  • As much oil as you want mayo: 100-200 ml
  • Big pinch finely chopped parsley/coriander/basil
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice

In a food processor or in a bowl using a hand mixer, whisk the egg yolk until it begins to firm up.
As it thickens, SLOWLY add the oil while the machine runs. Start with droplets and as the mixture continues to firm add oil in a steady thin stream. 
If the mixture begins to separate, stop adding oil and whisk until the mixture firms up.
When all the oil is added, whisk inn the herbs and the lemon juice.

 Dieta friendly waldorf with  lentil sprouts, cavolo nero, red cabbage, apple and currants

Dieta friendly waldorf with  lentil sprouts, cavolo nero, red cabbage, apple and currants


Dieta style pesto

"Pesto" is the generic name given to all herby dressings and no combination is wrong. Here are some of my favourite combinations, but feel free to go off piste with this one.

  • EVOO + basil + pine nuts + lemon juice + nutritional yeast (in place of cheese) is the classic
  • Avocado oil + coriander + walnuts + lemon juice is another delicious option
  • EVOO + almonds + parsley + lemon juice with or without the nutritional yeast is equally delightful
 Buckwheat, spinach, sweet potato, sprouts, dehydrated carrots and lots of other goodies topped with coriander pesto

Buckwheat, spinach, sweet potato, sprouts, dehydrated carrots and lots of other goodies topped with coriander pesto


citrus

This is not a recipe, just a reminder: citrus. It's delicious and will add a spark to any salad.

In addition to this, citrus fruit is calcium rich, antioxidant heavy, alkalising and helps promote both blood circulation and the uptake of iron so there are plenty of reasons to include more of these in your diet.

Blood oranges are in season now and are great in salads or juiced mixed with EVOO for a refreshing dressing. A squeeze of lime will brighten up any dish.

 Raw broccoli and sprout salad with smashed avocado and lime, carrot cracker with parsley pesto on the side

Raw broccoli and sprout salad with smashed avocado and lime, carrot cracker with parsley pesto on the side


Guacamole

Guac is also something that is super easy to "dietafy" as all classic guac ingredients are healthy and dieta friendly. Simply omit the spice.

  • 1 Avocado, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, a handful of chives or 2 spring onions, finely chopped 
  • A splash of EVOO or avocado oil
  • A good squeeze of lime
  • Coriander or parsley, finely chopped (optional)

Mix all the ingredients together and mash with a fork.

 Taco salad with roasted sweet potatoes, black beans, red pepper, spring onions and guacamole

Taco salad with roasted sweet potatoes, black beans, red pepper, spring onions and guacamole


hummus

That's right, it's perfectly possible to have hummus on a dieta to eat with crudités or raw crackers for a healthy snack or even packed lunch, as it travels well.
The shop-bought kind is often full of far too much low quality vegetable oil, salt and preservatives so it is best to make it at home in any case and it's very easy too. 

  • 400 ml cooked chic peas (canned is fine but home prepared is definitely better!)
  • 70 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 glove garlic 
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 3 tbsp warm water

Blend all the ingredients with a hand blender.

Feel free to add any of the following: 1/2 small roasted sweet potato; 1 roasted red pepper; 2 roasted medium carrots; 120 ml cooked peas; oil-free sun dried tomatoes; 1/2 avocado; a handful of basil, parsley or coriander.

 Carrot and flax seed crackers, sun dried tomato hummus and radish sprouts

Carrot and flax seed crackers, sun dried tomato hummus and radish sprouts


I hope you have enjoyed these ideas and that they may have inspired you to venture out of plain jane salads, dieta or no dieta!

In my next and final dieta post I will look at snacks and desserts PLUS recommend some places in London that are helpful and accommodating to a restricted diet. In the meantime, happy cooking!

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My post on the dieta and recipes for hot dishes can be found here.
My post on gluten-free and dieta friendly vegetable bread alternatives can be found here.

Dieta: Doing away with bread

These days a lot of us are avoiding gluten, whether on a dieta or not.
This is no surprise as gluten is difficult to digest for most people. In addition to this wheat flour, which is the primary source of gluten protein in our diet, is a “dead food” which has been harvested, milled, bleached, refined and left to sit in a warehouse and finally on a shop shelf for what may be years; it doesn’t have much nutritional chutzpah going for it anymore.

Many people are eating this grain at every meal without being particularly aware of it. Too much of anything – even a good thing! – isn’t ideal and it is really worthwhile to cut down on products, often processed, containing wheat flour and look around for nutritious substitutes.

Growing up in Norway, the Land of Open Faced Sandwiches, I know how deeply engrained bread is in our European food culture.
In Norway it is not unusual to have open faced sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, snack and supper and removing this staple of the diet can feel impossible.

Sandwiches travel well, are filling and can be endlessly redecorated to suit one’s palette. However, I have come up with some well tasting and deeply nourishing alternatives that will make your lunch box get all excited.

If you are following the dieta, simply omit all salt/pepper and other spices listed in the ingredients. The result will not be much different from the original and still taste yummy!


Cauliflower buns


This recipe is borrowed from Sarah Britton over at My New Roots and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is simply delicious and the buns can be topped with both sweet and savoury toppings. 

  • 1 large cauliflower (1200g)
  • ¼ cup / 20g almond meal
  • ¼ cup / 20g nutritional yeast
  • 1 ½ tsp. fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder (a crushed clove of fresh garlic is dieta approved!)
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. dried onions or sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. psyllium husk (optional, will make the buns drier)

Chop cauliflower into chunks, place in a food processor and blend until as fine as possible. If you don’t have a food processor, grate the cauliflower with a box grater.
Mix with the almond meal, nutritional yeast, salt, garlic and psyllium husk, if using, and stir to combine.
Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.
Whisk eggs together in a separate bowl. Add the eggs to the cauliflower mixture and stir until the dough is moist and will hold together.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Taking baseball-sized amounts of dough, squeeze them into a rough ball shape, then drop them from about 1 foot (30cm) onto the baking sheet (this helps to compact them). If you want to make bagels, simply use your finger to poke a hole in the center and shape the rest with your hands. Sprinkle the tops with the dried onion or sesame seeds and place in the oven.
Bake for 20-30 minutes until the buns are golden brown around the edges.
Store leftovers in the fridge for 3-4 days.

 Image courtesy of MyNewRoots.org

Image courtesy of MyNewRoots.org


Beetroot flatbread

This recipe was inspired by the vegetable flatbreads of Green Kitchen Stories and a mountain of juice pulp. 
As juice pulp is drier than grated beetroot, there will be two recipes for this bread, depending on how you choose to accumulate lots of grated beetroot. 

  • 500 ml grated beetroot OR 750 ml carrot pulp
  • 250-300 ml oat flour (self milled in a blender or using a hand mixer – more nutritious and makes for fluffier baking!)
  • 3 eggs OR 2 eggs plus 1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax seeds + 3 tbsp water left to soak for 15 minutes)
  • Salt/pepper if using

Heat the oven to 200 degrees and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Mix all the ingredients except the eggs together. Whisk the eggs and add them to the mixture, forming a sticky paste.
Flatten the paste into a rectangular shape with your hands onto the baking tray.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven, carefully flip upside down on a cooling rack and peel off the baking paper.
Store in the fridge for 3-4 days.

 Beetroot flatbread with home made mayo and lentil sprouts

Beetroot flatbread with home made mayo and lentil sprouts


Carrot flatbread

Carrot juice. What can I say, it's my thing. The perfect vehicle for a turmeric and ginger juice, great for making curries and stews (check out the carrot coconut stew in my previous post) and most recently great for making bread. Here's how (without/with juice pulp):

  • 500 ml grated carrots OR 750 ml carrot pulp
  • 200-250 ml oat flour (self milled in a blender or using a hand mixer – more nutritious and makes for fluffier baking!)
  • 3 eggs OR 2 eggs plus 1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax seeds + 3 tbsp water left to soak for 15 minutes)
  • Salt/pepper if using

Heat the oven to 200 degrees and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Mix all the ingredients except the eggs together. Whisk the eggs and add them to the mixture, forming a sticky paste.
Flatten the paste into a rectangular shape with your hands onto the baking tray.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven, carefully flip upside down on a cooling rack and peel off the baking paper.
Store in the fridge for 3-4 days.

 Probably the last styled picture I could have put up here, but it proves an important point: This bread travels well. Here is a carrot bread sandwich on a flight to Hamburg.

Probably the last styled picture I could have put up here, but it proves an important point: This bread travels well. Here is a carrot bread sandwich on a flight to Hamburg.


Broccoli flatbread

Bbroccoli is one of my favourite things to juice and I often have loads of pulp. This makes a delicious and green flatbread and is also a great way to use old broccoli stems.

  • 500 ml grated broccoli OR 750 ml carrot pulp
  • 200-250 ml oat flour (self milled in a blender or using a hand mixer – more nutritious and makes for fluffier baking!)
  • 3 eggs OR 2 eggs plus 1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax seeds + 3 tbsp water left to soak for 15 minutes)
  • Salt/pepper if using

Heat the oven to 200 degrees and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Mix all the ingredients except the eggs together. Whisk the eggs and add them to the mixture, forming a sticky paste.
Flatten the paste into a rectangular shape with your hands onto the baking tray.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven, carefully flip upside down on a cooling rack and peel off the baking paper.
Store in the fridge for 3-4 days.

 Broccoli bread with home made hummus and cucumber

Broccoli bread with home made hummus and cucumber


Carrot pulp crackers

As you see, I juice a lot. And I love carrots. So what to do with the surplus of carrot pulp when you can’t face another carrot bread? (just kidding, I can eat carrot bread until the cows come home.) Make crackers, of course! This things have actually become so popular at home they are their own reason to make carrot juice. Yes. Really.  
These crackers can be dehydrated in a dehydrator on 45 degrees or in an oven on the lowest setting for 8-12 hours to stay raw, or they can be baked in the oven on 180 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

  • 1/2 cup flax seeds soaked in 1 cup water overnight (2 hours works in a pinch) 
  • 1,5 litres carrot pulp
  • 100 ml water (more if needed)
  • 60 ml sesame seeds (soaked overnight then drained)
  • 60 ml chia seeds
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 5 small tomatoes (canned is okay in the winter), roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 pinch unrefined salt (if using)
  • 1 pinch cayenne (if using)

If using the oven, heat it to 180 degrees celsius. 
Mix all the ingredients together. 
Prepare sheets on your dehydrator trays or baking sheets on your oven trays and spread the mixture out (not too thin!). 
Dehydrate or bake as directed above.

 Carrot pulp crackers hanging out with other dehydrated goodies: raw apple granola, kale crisps and berry  bars

Carrot pulp crackers hanging out with other dehydrated goodies: raw apple granola, kale crisps and berry  bars


Granola bars

If you have a dehydrator, you are probably already well versed in granola bars. I have made a ton of these things since I got my dehydrator for Christmas a mere month ago and they keep evolving. 

As I make these as I go with whatever I have on hand, I have no exact recipes for you. However, here are some combinations I have tried and found delicious! 

  • Roasted buckwheat - chestnut honey - dried figs - cinnamon - almond butter (dieta friendly)
  • Roasted buckwheat - acacia honey - goji berries - cashews - ground ginger
  • Oats - hazelnuts - prunes - nutmeg - chestnut honey - pepitas
  • Oats - almonds - almond butter - cinnamon - rapeseed honey - flaked coconut  
    (dieta friendly)
  • Roasted buckwheat - hazelnuts - cinnamon - acacia honey - dates - raw cocoa nibs 

I hope this has given you some inspiration to cut gluten both for your dieta and overall. There are spots many healthier and more fun options out there and these recipes really don't take much time at all. 

Next week I will continue the dieta series and look at dieta friendly lunch and snack alternatives!
Until next time.