Acidification of the body and the benefits of an alkaline diet with herbal support


•This article was originally written for the amazing Seed Sistas and will be published in their August newsletter and on their blog

Today most of us create a very acidic environment for our bodies by leading the lifestyle we do. Too much to do in combination with foods that increase the metabolic acid load in the body creates a breeding ground for inflammatory diseases and bone density loss, two very real consequences of a high metabolic acid load.
Acidosis, where the arterial PH falls below 7.35, is the most dangerous case of acidification of the body as this affects the PH of the blood plasma.

In this article I will look at the different ways a high metabolic acid load affects our health and how we can use an alkaline diet and alkaline herbs to help counteract this.



Acid or alkaline 

We need about twenty amino acids, dozens of sugars and fatty acids, roughly forty vitamins and over one hundred minerals and trace elements to function optimally and all of these components can be divided into either acid or alkaline. What we mean by a food being acidic is that acids are released in the body during the digestive process.
It is possible to divide foods into acid or alkaline forming by looking at their mineral content. A few examples of acidic and alkaline minerals are:

Acidic: sulfur, iodine, phosphorus, fluoride, chlorine, silicon 

Alkaline: sodium, magnesium, calcium, copper, cobalt.


Research shows that the body thrives on a slightly alkaline diet(1) , so what does it mean for us when most of us feed ourselves mostly acidic foods?

Acidity puts pressure on the liver, kidneys, pancreas and other organs as well as creates oxidative stress which can damage cells and sometimes even lead to cancer(2). The eliminative channels (kidneys, lungs, respiratory system and skin) can only take so much, but after years of an overly acidic diet this will begin to have an impact on our blood. To understand how this works, we need to look at the bodys PH regulating system.



The body always wishes to be in balance and in a neutral PH of about 7 (actually 7.36-7.42, which is slightly alkaline). The highest state of alkalinity on the PH scale is 14, where no more hydrogen ions are freed.

The PH scale works logarithmically, meaning that the values separating each number is not of equal value but multiples of 10 at each unit in either direction from the mid-point of 7. This means that the closer you are to 7 on the scale the less a shift in either direction really means. The further you go in either direction, the more extreme of a difference each incremental point is.




There are many foods that can increase the metabolic acid load of the body. An  oversimplified rule of thumb is that starches and proteins increase acid while fruits and vegetables are alkalising – this is not altogether true as some fruits and vegetables (tomato being one) are acidic, but it is an easy way of thinking about it. 

Coffee, alcohol and smoking are all very acidic. 

Animal products such as meat, eggs and dairy especially increase the acid load for the body. The connection between a higher metabolic acid load and animal products was established as early as in 1920(3) and is a known fact today(4). Animal protein contains more sulphur-containing amino acids which, when digested, produce the acid-forming sulphate ion which must be excreted by the kidneys (which is partially why a diet high in animal protein is stressful for the kidneys).

Gluten is also particularly acidic for the body, which is why a gluten or low-refined starch diet is often prescribed to those suffering from GERD(5).


In order to regulate the PH of the body so that it can operate most efficiently, our human bodies draw on mineral reserves to achieve balance.
The PH of the blood particularly must remain very stable or you will find yourself in the potentially life threatening situation of acidosis(6). Because of this the body will go through extraordinary lengths to maintain the pH of the blood, sometimes at the expense of other organs and systems. 

One easily accessible and very alkaline mineral is calcium. When the metabolic acid load is increased, the body draws calcium from the bones which is a very effective alkaline mineral for PH balancing. This is how, over time, a high metabolic acid load can lead to issues such as bone loss and osteoporosis. In the West we are often taught to drink milk for our bones, but although dairy milk may be calcium rich it increases the acid load of the body(7) and can contribute to bone loss.
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%(8, 9, 10) and this means double trouble for the internal PH.


Therapeutic use of alkaline minerals

If your body is harbouring too much acid and has dropped below an optimum PH level you will need to take a high dose of alkaline in order to “buffer” acids stored in body tissues. Remember, as the body always wishes to remain in a near-neutral PH state, the high alkaline intake will force the body to excrete stored acids from body tissues to restore balance in the internal PH – we are essentially doing the opposite of what the Standard American Diet is doing every day. 

If the diet and lifestyle has been particularly acidifying for some time there are a lot of acids stored in the body and simply switching to fresh fruits and vegetables for some time may not be enough to draw the acids out. This is where sea vegetables and powerful alkaline herbs come in handy as these can help bring the PH up.



• The most alkaline forming foods are: chlorella, spirulina, coconut water, wheatgrass, dulce and other sea vegetables, alkaline herbs (see below) lemons, limes, pineapple, sweet potato, yams, and tangerines. Common cooking herbs such as coriander, parsley and mint are also supremely alkaline – and delicious.

• I try to add sea vegetables to my good as often as I can as these are rich in alkaline minerals. Sea vegetable sprinkles are lovely and salty and can be used as a salt substitute in most dishes, while other sea vegetables such as kelp and nori can be used in cooking. 

• Irish sea moss is a particularly alkalising sea herb that can be had as a warm drink with mylk and cinnamon.
Bladderwrack is another sea herb that is a natural diuretic and helps alkalise the body.

• Then there is Iceland Moss, a herb found in the moist tundra of the northern hemisphere. It is a herb which is both anti-inflammatory and toning for the gut in addition to being alkalising and has been used as cancer treatment in European folk medicine(11).

• Dandelion greens, a common weed found in most gardens, is a highly alkalising herb that can be used as a herbal tea, a tincture or simply added into salads and soups. 

• Dandelion roots can also be used as a herbal tea – it actually tasted a lot like coffee! So if you’re looking for an alkaline replacement for your morning coffee this alkalising herb is worth exploring. 

• Burdock root contains traces of more than 102 minerals and acts like a “magnet” for other minerals and is wonderful on combination with iron rich herbs to combat fatigue and anaemia. 

I am sure I have missed some – there is a wonderful world of herbal support out there and the Seed Sistas are incredibly knowledgable in matters like these.


The most effective way to draw on stored acids and begin from a clean slate is by going through an alkaline cleanse where one increases the alkaline mineral intake to near 100% of the diet which forces the body to draw on stored acids. This can be monitored by doing litmus tests regularly thought the day and trying to bring the PH up to 7.5 or 8 for a couple of days. Note that performing an alkaline cleanse is best done with the support of a practitioner.


Lise Aanes is educated at the School of Natural Medicine UK and believes that an alkaline diet is a cornerstone for good health. She is available for private consultations is qualified to guide you through an alkaline cleanse, other cleanses or a fast. 

You may contact her on

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


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.



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


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.



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.


alienseaslogo small.png


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

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon 


"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.


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.


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!

alienseaslogo small.png


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?



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. 

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.


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.

alienseaslogo small.png

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.


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.


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.


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. 


“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.



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.

alienseaslogo small.png

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. 






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).


















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.










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







Veganuary (Veganyear)

New year, new intentions, new possibilities.
Whether or not this rings true to you, it is hard to underestimate the psychological effect of a new year and how powerful it can be to choose to turn over a new leaf at this time.

I believe that deep down inside we all want to live on a whole, peaceful planet and that we can all make an impact to turn things around for the better.
This is why I would like to devote this small post to inspire more conscious eating in the new year, both for the sake of the planet and for our own health, and to advocate for a more plant based – if not completely plant based – diet for yourself and your family this year.

I myself am not strictly vegan, but I end up eating foods free of animal products at almost every single meal without giving it much thought. Admittedly it takes a little bit of getting used to, but believe me when I say it is not impossible! I will be following a completely vegan diet myself this January as a support for the Veganuary initiative – they will ship you a free cookbook if you care to join!

My vegan fridge

My vegan fridge

There is a well of information out there on the benefits of becoming a vegan for the sake of mother earth and you can make a serious impact on climate change just by your diet:
6.75 square kilometres are needed to feed one vegan per year while a meat eater needs 12140 square kilometres – 18 times as much as a vegan: 6000 sqm. can produce 16782 kg of plant food or 170 kg meat.

Also, most of the world’s deforestation is due to livestock, including 91% of the rainforest’s.
Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of the greenhouse gases which is more than all transportation exhaust combined.
It also uses an astonishing amount of freshwater: 11365 litres of water is required to produce half a kilo of beef.

But the meat industry is not just wreaking havoc on our planet – it is doing the same to our health.
Frequent meat consumption contributes to tumour growth, acidity and inflammation in the body (cancer), diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.
Commercially farmed meat contains antibiotics and by eating it we develop antibiotic resistance and digestive diseases.

We are currently growing enough food for 10 billion people, but humans around the world are starving. Worldwide, 50% of all grain is fed to livestock.

To sum it up, animal agriculture is responsible for all of humanity’s major problems: deforestation, water scarcity, world hunger, climate change, extinction of animal species and western diseases.

By following the Instagram hashtag #lisecooks you get lots of (mostly) vegan inspiration from my Instagram!

By following the Instagram hashtag #lisecooks you get lots of (mostly) vegan inspiration from my Instagram!

Animal suffering is a given consequence of animal agriculture and the PETA website will provide adequate informative videos such as Meet Your Meat.

Last month the new website went live to tell the story of factory farming and provide an immersive experience into the lives of factory farmed animals. If you do eat meat I urge you to watch this video.
To quote one of my favourite films (10 points if you can guess it):

“Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men."

Other great sources for knowledge and facts are Veganuary, VeganSociety, Counting Animals, Cowspiracy, The China Study by Campbell, Rainbow Green Live-Food Cuisine by Cousens and Eating Animals by Foer.

Vegan food is delicious and versatile and there are a lot of inspiration online for a well balanced plant based diet.
Oh She Glows has vegan recipes for every occasion, My New Roots has a wide range of vegan recipes complete with nutritional information, Green Kitchen Stories has great vegan breakfast ideas and Sprouted Kitchen is fantastic for when you want to impress. Instagram also has a ton of very talented users uploading inspiration every day!

My list favourite plant based cookbooks includes:
Oh She Glows
Dirt Candy
Thug Kitchen and Thug Kitchen 101
Vegan Bible
and the Gaia House Cookbook

A tip to get you started:
Look for vegan alternatives to dishes that you love. Scrambled eggs? Tofu scramble! Milky porridge? Delicious nut milks! Meatballs? Aubergine balls! (Love and Lemons has an amazing recipe)
Short on time? Minimalist Baker has 10-ingredients-or-less recipes made within the half hour.

Eat a wide variety of organic fruit and veg and you need not fear nutritional deficiencies: eat the rainbow!

Surround yourself with fresh produce, beautiful inspiring cookbooks and arm yourself with knowledge so you are ready to face the new year as a happy, healthy being that lives in harmony with the world around you.

With this I wish you a happy, peaceful entry into the new year.

Hello flow!

Artwork by Jen Lewis

Artwork by Jen Lewis

Hey, my period started yesterday! Raise your hand if we're syncing – and raise your hand if these first sentences of this post has embarrassed you.

There is so much stigma related to our periods, but all healthy women experience menstruation in their reproductive years – that's half the human population! This is why I have no problem talking about it and by doing so I hope I can spread more acceptance of these very natural, interesting and sometimes challenging periods of our lives (no pun intended).

Some women find this monthly event not only embarassing, but also an ordeal due to pains such as lower back pain and cramps, ovarian pain, mood swings and fatigue.
Knowing what the body needs during this crucial time can help alleviate some of the discomfort and also help the body regenerate more quickly after a period.

What are the key nutrients that a woman needs during her cycle?

Firstly, there is an obvious but very important item on the list: water.
We always hear that we should be drinking more water and this is usually true for all of us, but especially true for women who are loosing a lot of liquid while on their period.
The European Food Safety Authority has recommended at least 2 litres of water per day under regular circumstances, so being on your cycle is a great excuse to start getting used to a bigger water intake to keep things literally flowing.

Because of the blood loss, women are more susceptible to iron deficiency anaemia than men.
This occurs when red blood cells and haemoglobin levels are at a low point.
Haemoglobin is an iron-containing transport molecule for oxygen in red blood cells and without it oxygen transport through the body fails and will make us feel tired, nauseous and weak. The biggest and easiest source of iron for omnivores are meat, but there are also some great options for vegetarians:

  • Dark leafy greens: Almost all common leafy greens, but especially spinach, arugula, watercress, beet greens, kale and chard contain a lot of iron. Chard also has a very high vitamin C content and is therefore the perfect match with other iron rich greens because vitamin C aids the uptake of iron – more about that later.
  • Sea vegetables: Use your monthly as an excuse to explore the fabulous world or flavourful sea vegetables! Nori, kelp and other sea weeds are highly alkaline, naturally salty and contain plenty of iron.
  • Iron rich supplements: Wheatgrass and spirulina are great natural supplements to add to your diet on a regular basis, but their high levels of iron are especially crucial during your period.
  • Fresh herbs: Many fresh herbs has a very high content of iron. For instance, 10 grams of fresh oregano contains 50% of your recommended daily intake of iron. Other herbals sources for iron are nettles, flat leaf parsley and basil.
  • Blackstrap molasses: Blackstrap molasses is a third-extraction-syrup from unrefined sugar cane. It has a low GI score and a very high mineral content, notably of iron but also including selenium, manganese, potassium, copper and zinc. (B5, B6)
  • Tofu: Tofu is a versatile protein source for vegetarians and contains a fair amount of iron, about 30 % RDI per 100 g.
  • Currants: currants are delicious as a sweet snack and also incredibly rich in iron as well as being one of the most vitamin C rich foods on the planet.

Meanwhile, vitamin C is needed to facilitate the body’s uptake of iron as well as it helps energise the body and relieve fatigue.
Some greens with a high iron content, such as chard, broccoli, watercress as well as flat leaf parsley, are also high in vitamin C.
Another way to facilitate iron uptake is to drink a little lemon water or use lemon or lime in whatever sauce or dressing you are making for your iron rich foods.

Another important vitamin to take into account is vitamin K.
Vitamin K supports the bones and the body’s ability to heal and deficiency in this vitamin can mean excessive bleeding, heavy periods, nose bleeds and bruisability.
Two vitamin K all stars are the already mentioned flat leaf parsley and kale. 10 grams of parsley will provide you with over 100% of your recommended daily vitamin K intake and along with a high iron and vitamin C content, this makes parsley an excellent addition to your diet during your cycle.
Other wonderful vegetarian sources for vitamin K are:

  • Dark leafy greens: collards, chard, spinach, mustard greens, beet greens, broccoli.
  • Fresh herbs: Coriander, basil, nettles and oregano.
  • Vegetables: Endive, radicchio, garden cress, watercress, chicory, asparagus and leeks.

Speaking of dark greens, let’s talk about chlorophyll!
Chlorophyll is found in all plants and is a green biomolecule that allows plants to convert sunlight into energy.
It is referred to as plant blood and the comparison is not by chance: chlorophyll is actually molecularly structured in a very similar way to haemoglobin. The only difference between the chlorophyll and haemoglobin molecules is the central atom – chlorophyll’s is magnesium, while haemoglobin’s is iron.
In this peculiar and beautiful way we are connected to the plants and can use plant blood in order to help build our own blood, which is especially important during a menstrual cycle.
Dark leafy greens, the darker the better, are fantastic sources of chlorophyll, as is spirulina and wheatgrass. You can even grow your own powerful chlorophyll-hit on your windowsill!

As a vegetarian, my vitamin B-12 consumption is something that I keep an especially watchful eye on as it is a vitamin that is mostly found in meat and eggs.
B-12 is necessary during your period to keep your energy level up, protect the body from megaloblastic anaemia and aid the formation of red blood cells.
Many vegetarians swear by B12 supplements, but I myself prefer to eat the whole food rather that a fortified product or a vitamin capsule and I am getting my B12 fix from whole, natural sources such as:

  • Kale: Again, kale makes it to the list – the ultimate menstrual cycle food! Kale is one of the few greens containing vitamin B12, so here is yet another reason to be excited about kale.
  • Nutritional yeast: The vegan’s secret weapon. Nutritional yeast is inactive test which makes anything take kind of cheesy. I drizzle it over baked kale in order to make the perfectly salty PMS snack,and it can be used in sauces or dressings for a creamy, cheesy flavour.
  • Palmyra palm sugar (palmyra jaggery): I am not kidding when I tell you that a sugar actually can be good for you. The palmyra palm is native to India and Sri Lanka and its sugar has a wonderful caramel flavour, with one tbs containing 133% or your RDI of B12, as well as many other B-complex vitamins and minerals. Palmyra jaggery has a Gi score of 41 and a very low fructose content so it is a descent alternative to satisfy your cravings for sweets. It's still a sugar, so don't go crazy! A little goes a long way.
  • Nori: The seaweed nori is flavourful and deliciously salty as well as a B12 provider.
  • Tempeh: My favourite bacon substitute! Tempeh fried in coconut oil with a little bit of salt and smoked paprika will make even the most hard core omnivore drool. Soy beans contain no B12 and tempeh owes it’s B12 content due to fermentation.
  • Fermented products: B12 does not naturally occur in humans or plants, but is synthesised by bacteria. As the bacteria flora in a fermentation process is never consistent so is the case with the vitamin content in fermented products. Yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut and pickles are all made with the lactic bacteria that under certain circumstances produce B12.

Alkaline minerals are important features in our diet at any time in order to balance out the foods we eat, which are often acidic.
During the menstruation period, the alkaline minerals potassium, calcium, and magnesium are especially important.
Potassium can help relieve bloating, tender breasts and promote a more regular digestion for the women who struggle with diarrhoea during their period.
Calcium acts as a muscle relaxant, especially when taken alongside magnesium.
Magnesium help reduce bloating during menstruation and will similarly to calcium release muscle tension which will help on the cramps and discomfort.

  • Sources of alkaline minerals: cabbage (potassium – and also high in vitamin C!), blackstrap molasses (potassium, calcium), bananas (potassium, magnesium), coconut water (potassium), avocados (potassium), sweet potatoes (potassium), chia seeds (calcium), milk products (calcium), nettles (calcium, magnesium), collard greens (calcium), kale (calcium, potassium), oats (magnesium), kelp (magnesium), almonds (potassium, magnesium), cocoa and cacao (magnesium and also iron), pumpkin seeds (magnesium), beet greens (calcium, magnesium).

Healthy fats are key components for a healthy hormonal balance and a healthy lifestyle overall.
The production of hormones is a complex process, but one thing we know is that hormones are dependant on fats. If your diet is short on good fats, the body no longer has the building blocks to create hormones.
If the body has a too high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids, meaning margarine and vegetable oils, it will attempt to create hormones out of these wrong building blocks and we get hormonal deficiency.
In addition to this, vegetable oils are chemically extracted and they often contain a high level of toxins which can lead to “mutant oestrogen”.
Build your hormones the way they were meant to using saturated fats from raw butter, raw cheese, unheated olive oil, eggs, avocados, nuts and coconut oil.

The fat content of the body is 97% saturated fats and 3% polyunsaturated fats containing omega-3 and omega-6 in a 1:1 ratio.
Unfortunately the consumption of omega-6 has skyrocketed due to its presence in seed oils such as canola oil and soybean oil which are found in most packaged and manufactured foods.
Therefore, we must steer away from manufactured foods and load up on omega-3.
In addition to this, studies have shown omega-3 to help alleviate menstrual cramps, inflammation and tension during the period.
Omega-3 is found in fatty fish such as salmon and sardines, flax seeds, walnuts, soybeans, tofu and chia seeds and can also be taken as a supplement (look for a DHA and EPA supplement – this is a great guide).

Lastly, there are some superfoods and herbs that have shown to aid hormonal imbalance and relieve uncomfortable PMS symptoms and period pains:

  • Maca: Maca is a root in the radish family that has been used in Peru for a very long time. Maca is high in calcium, potassium and iron and is known to balance hormones and can help relieve PMS symptoms, improve skin condition and fertility and act as an aphrodisiac.
  • Spirulina: Contains potassium, magnesium and calcium and plenty of protein. Perfect for your morning smoothie.
  • Bee pollen: Used in Chinese medicine, bee pollen can help improve digestion, build the blood for iron stores and increase energy.
  • Vitex: Vitex is a medicinal herb that can be taken as a tea or a tincture. Vitex is used to treat headaches, problem skin, breast tenderness, fatigue and bloating.
  • Lady’s Mantle: Lady’s mantle is a powerfully antioxidant plant that can be taken as a tea or a tincture. Lady’s mantle is used to treat all kinds of female problems including hormonal conditions, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, irregular bleeding and menstrual cramps. Ideally, one should begin drinking the tea or tincture ten days before the period for maximum effect.
Jen Lewis

Jen Lewis

A balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle is as we know key to many things in life and a less painful menstruation period is one of them.

Make sure to always buy organic products, especially during such a sensitive time as your moon cycle. Foods like leafy greens, blackstrap molasses, palmyra jaggery and maca are especially dependent on fertile soil in order for them to display their health properties.

Drink lots of water; fill your smoothies, salads and stews with lots of leafy greens and chlorophyll; go heavy on delicious butter and coconut oil; eat a variety of vegetables and fermented foods; experiment with fresh herbs in your cooking; drink lots of warming vitex and lady’s mantle tea and most of all allow yourself to be still and immerse yourself in this powerful week every month.

PS! If you need some entertainment while you are in your monthly fetal position, too crampy to leave the house but still hungry for information about what’s going on inside you, check out these fantastic podcasts on periods and period-related things:

The Period Pride Episode
The Period Tracker Apps Episode
The Menstrual Cups Episode

And do you have questions you don't even dare to ask your doctor? Visit HelloFlo.

The year's last, loveliest smile

"Autumn – the year’s last, loveliest smile"
William Cullen Bryant

My favourite season is here!

Time to tidy the wardrobe and pull all the cosy sweaters out from their hiding places, to kick leaves in the park and to sample the best vegetables nature has to offer.
At the farmer’s market the stalls are creaking under the weight of the loveliest things around: lingering summer flavours such as strawberries, courgette flowers, lettuce, curly leaf kale and cucumbers are mixing with pumpkins, apples, beets and carrots, the first winter vegetables of the season.
It is such a joy to follow nature as she dances on through the seasons.

In my last post I discussed the health benefits of raw honey and promised to share some autumnal treats with you after experimenting a little. Now is the time!

Using raw honey from The Local Honey Man I have made two autumn treats, although both are so healthy you could even have them for breakfast if you so wish. In fact, the tahini date balls are ideal before a workout!
So without much further ado, here are two recipes to take with you into the new season.


As the initial excitement over the arrival of the winter squashes slowly fades into frustration over the course of the cold season (my man calls this state of mind “squashed out”), it is nice to have some recipes to hand that offer an alternative take on these colourful bubbleheads.

For this recipe I have used butternut squash, but it is perfectly okay to use pumpkins, hokkaido squash, or a mix of orange and green squashes – whatever you have on hand.
Butternut squash is one of the most powerful sources of the antioxidant betacarotene in the plant kingdom, which out bodies convert to vitamin A.
As betacarotene is fat soluble, a good source of healthy fat (coconut oil in this case) alongside any orange vegetable aids the body in the uptake of nutrients.

I used borage honey from the Local Honey Man in this recipe as it is sweet, but still with some flavour to it.
I also chose to decorate my cake with a pumpkin flower from the garden, but if you can’t find one the cake can also be decorated with chopped walnuts, desiccated coconut, seeds, bee pollen, honey swirls… Whatever takes your fancy!

For the base:
140 grams walnuts
50 grams ground almonds (left overs from nut milk is fine!)
190 grams pitted dates
2 tbsp coconut oil
a pinch of sea salt

For the cake:
600 grams butternut squash
200 ml orange juice (fresh is of course best)
140 grams raw honey
180 ml coconut oil, melted and room temperature

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celcius.
Peel the squash, half it lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, cut into cubes and roast for 30-40 minutes.
While the squash is roasting, blend all the base ingredients in a food processor or with a hand mixer to a crumble-like consistence that holds together in a pinch.
Line an 18 cm spring-form baking tin with baking paper, spoon the base mix into the form and press it down with your fingers, making sure that it is of even height all around.
Refrigerate the base.

Once the squash is roasted, leave it to cool before adding it to a blender with the rest of the cake-ingredients and blent until completely smooth.
Remove the cake tin from the fridge and pour the cake filling over the cake base.
This is the time to decorate the cake if you so wish.
Then place the whole thing back into the fridge to set: a couple of hours will do, but overnight is better.

To serve, open the spring form and either cut the paper around the cake base or, if you are brave, carefully transfer the cake from the baking paper to a serving plate with the help of spatulas.



I got to try something very special when I let visited the Local Honey Man, namely fermented honey!
As you may know if you have ever read anything on this blog at all, I am ever so slightly obsessed with fermented foods, so this honey was right up my alley. It is sweet yet fermented, bitter, malty, almost a little bit like honey-beer.

Energy balls, bliss balls, raw balls; you’ve probably had one somewhere lately.
These things are all the rage these days and as there are so many wonderful recipes out there this is the first time I have seen any reason to create a recipe myself.
Why add another one to the pile?
Firstly, because I wanted to create something special in honour of the fermented honey instead of having to make this unique flavour fit into an other recipe and secondly because I find many energy balls too sweet for my liking.

If you read my post about foods to eat before exercise, you may recall that the ideal thing to eat before a workout is a high carb snack that will replenish your glycogen storage (=energy) while at the same time not being too fibrous so that it will linger in your stomach and make you queasy.
Dates are ideal as they are taken up by the bloodstream quickly to give you a burst of energy before physical activity.

If you can’t find fermented honey, another more bitter honey such as chestnut honey will do the trick here. Or, if you like it sweeter, feel free to substitute with any regular (RAW!) honey you can find.

50 grams ground almonds (left overs from nut milk is fine!)
3 tsp tahini
2.5 tsp raw honey
50 grams pitted dates
small pinch of sea salt
sesame seeds

Mix all the ingredients except for the sesame seeds into a paste in a food processor or with a hand mixer.
Pinch off enough dough to make a roughly 3cm ball and roll it in the sesame seeds, refrigerate for minimum 1 hour and enjoy.
Makes approx. 10 balls.

Local Honey Man

A little while back I was incredibly lucky to be invited by The Local Honey Man to see their honey production behind the scenes first hand and to sneak a peek at their new and beautiful products and logo.

The Local Honey Man (LHM) produces raw honey in Essex and London and is run by Curtis who learnt the bee keeping trade from his uncle.
LHM works tirelessly to better the situation for the world’s bees, who are nearing extinction because they have nowhere to feed in an increasingly urbanised world and because big agro are fond of using bee killing pesticides. (Which can also produce cancer in humans by the way… Choose organic!)

Bees, while being beautiful beings in their own right, are also vital to the ecosystem in that they help pollinate the plants that all species need in order to live.
This is why, in addition to selling raw honey and beeswax products, LHM also sells bee keeping equipment and holds bee keeping courses so that anyone who is interested can take up a rewarding hobby and help save the planet at the same time!

Personally I am not sure if I am ready to take on a hive for myself just yet, but at home we have planted a wildflower meadow in order to give the bees a safe feeding ground and I urge everyone who has a garden to do the same. Not only will you help the quickly diminishing bee population, but you will have gorgeous (and some edible!) flowers all summer to cherish outside or to pick and display on the dinner table.

The beeswax of the LHM honey is scraped off by hand before the honey is sucked out of the honeycomb in a centrifugal machine.

The beeswax of the LHM honey is scraped off by hand before the honey is sucked out of the honeycomb in a centrifugal machine.

As raw honey is unpasteurised and unfiltered it contains an incredible amount of beneficial enzymes, phytonutrients, macro- and micronutrients.
Honey is often heat-treated and “purified” before reaching the market and this strips off its natural anti-oxidant, anti-fungal, antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties. This is why raw honey is excellent ON the body as well as IN the body! More on this later.

The nutritional content of honey varies with the floral source, but often include the B complex vitamins and vitamin A, C, E and K, minerals like copper, zinc manganese, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium and an abundance of amino acids.
In comparison to “purified” commercially sold pasteurised honey, raw honey is incredibly more nutritionally beneficial. For instance, raw honey is alkaline forming in the body in contrast to pasteurised or refined honey which is acidic.
Raw honey also has a relatively low glycemic index score (how quickly the sugar is taken up by the bloodstream – the higher score, the bigger spike in blood sugar) of 30 to 40, while pasteurised honey can reach up to 80.
Raw honey has been linked to treating candida overgrowth, aiding the digestion, boosting the immune system and relieving infections and hay fever.

Scraping beeswax: surprisingly meditative

Scraping beeswax: surprisingly meditative

Raw honey is antiseptic and anti-bacterial, it minimises the chance for inflammation of the skin which causes redness and blemishes and this is why it is great as a face mask.
My favourite facemark and scrub consists of raw honey only. The true mark of raw honey is that is crystallises when it gets cold, so if you keep a small jar in the fridge it is great as a scrub and then it can be left on the face for 30 minutes after. Rinse with warm water and you are good to go! I use this scrub/mask at least once a week.

LHM has also released a raw honey lip balm in their product range. As we eat most of our lip balm throughout the day, I think it is only logical to opt for a natural option and this one is lovely.

I cook with raw honey all the time and it is not only for desserts!

I love playing around with it in the kitchen and this is why I would like to share with you three everyday-recipes using raw honey as well as dedicate my next post to the perfect raw honey autumn dessert. Stay tuned…
Meanwhile, enjoy these inspiring and simple ideas for using raw honey!


This is so easy that it is hardly a recipe, but I find that this salad dressing can liven up even the most bitter-tasting wilted salad (old dandelion greens laying around, anyone?).
It is sweet, sour, salty and pungent all at the same time, which is why it goes with anything. I also adjust the ratios to suit the salad in question: a sweet salad with root vegetables need less honey for example, while a sour salad with sorrel can use a bit more mustard and honey.
The key is to have the best ingredients available and because you only need to use a little bit of everything each time it is cost-effective in the long run.

1/2 tsp strong mustard
1 big tsp raw honey
1 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
1 good pinch pink himalayan salt
2 good grinds of black pepper

Mix everything together in a glass or small cup and add to any salad. Suitable for a salad serving 2-3 people


I recently started making these shots after visiting Boulder, CO, where it is all the rage and so I won’t take credit for inventing them.
What I will say though is that this is the ultimate cold and inflammation fighter!

Raw honey is, as you know by now, anti-inflammatory and alongside turmeric and ginger this is a very powerful shot for the immune system to kickstart the body’s anti-inflammatory response. The carrots sweetens this powerful drink and the black pepper aids the uptake of curcumin (the main curcuminoid in turmeric).
When my man suffered from an inflamed achilles after too much running I fed him this daily.

4 finger sized pieces of fresh turmeric
3 large thumb sized pieces of fresh ginger 2 carrots
1 tsp raw honey
Freshly ground black pepper

Juice the turmeric, ginger and carrots in your juicer. Mix in the raw honey and add a few good grinds of pepper. Swirl and drink.

This makes one very powerful shot, so you may want to sip it rather than shoot it!


This is my favourite thing to eat after a hard workout as these oats contain a fine balance of everything you need after a training. Carbs, anti-inflammatories, calcium, iron, protein, antioxidants and healthy fats… It’s all in there. And you can make it the night before so that you can hit it straight after you finish your training!

To recap from my post on exercise and diet:
the oats provide healthy carbohydrates to replenish your energy storage and promote metabolic hormone function; the anti-inflammatory functions of the raw honey help prevent damage to ligaments and muscles; the chia and flax seeds provide a healthy dose of omega 3 and protein; bone and blood minerals are supplied by chia seeds (calcium) and maca powder (iron); antioxidant heavy goji berries prevent inflammation and the ghee supplies the body with healthy building blocks for cells and hormones in the shape of saturated fats.
In short, the perfect recipe for promoting metabolism, building the body and preventing damage. Raw honey is particularly great for this dish as an enzyme present in the honey called amylase has the ability to pre-digest grains and make them easier on your digestion.

(For 1 person)
70-100 grams oats (depending on the intensity of your exercise regime)
1 tbsp goji berries
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp maca powder
1 tbsp flax seeds (if you have the time and patience, grind them up beforehand: this allows for better assimilation)
1 large tsp raw honey
1 pinch himalayan pink salt/unrefined sea salt 200-250 grams almond milk (depending on how much oats you are using)
1 large tsp ghee

In the evening before bedtime find yourself a jam jar or an old coconut oil jar (I have quite the selection) and add the oats, goji berries, chia and flax seeds, maca, honey and salt.
Mix everything with a fork before adding the almond milk and stir as you go.
Pop the lid on and leave in the fridge overnight.
In the morning after your exercise (or no exercise!) add the ghee, stir and enjoy!

Super power oats

Super power oats

The next post will tackle the perfect autumn treat as well as looking into fermented honey and how to cook with it.
I want to thank The Local Honey Man for giving me such an educational experience and I hope this post has inspired you to incorporate more raw honey into your diet!

Ready steady scrape!

Ready steady scrape!