Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Digestion: What We Can Take From Paleo, Raw Food, Vegan and Plant Based approach to eating

From the outset, let me make clear that I don't follow any food regimen strictly and zealously nor do I advocate a restrictive approach to eating, movement or living at all.

I believe - as I hope you will - that each of us needs to make choices that align with our values, our beliefs, our needs and our enjoyment and engagement with life. That means that your approach will likely differ over time and I've known many people who go from meat eaters to vegetarians and have periods of returning to seafood or meat if they feel their nutritional needs aren't being met sufficiently without it, or just because they want it and choose it.

It's not for any of us to say what is right and wrong for anyone else - so this post is not advocating a dietary approach, rather it is looking at the importance of gut health to quality of life and the ideas and lessons we can take from each of these approaches and consider when preparing and sharing meals.

I've been reading The Complete Gut Health Cookbook by Pete Evans and naturopath, Helen Padarin. While the book does strongly follow paleo guidelines to eating, there is a recurring reminder that these are suggestions and not a strict advocacy of one way to eat or live. Regardless of your preconceived ideas around Pete, his genuine desire to share a love of eating well and with awareness of how food affects overall health is contagiously joyful.

The consistent message across paleo, vegan, raw food and plant based eating is that food is more than simply calories and fuel. Food has medicinal and spiritual value. Choosing to eat to truly nourish rather than just to curb the appetite reflects a greater commitment: choosing to live in a way that nourishes our selves and those around us.

However, back to the gut.
gut health foods

Many diseases and lifestyle-based illness including diabetes type 2, angina, leaky gut, obesity and metabolic syndrome are the result of eating diets high in processed foods, lacking in vital micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, enzymes) and the approach to eating food on the run, with little consideration for how important it is to sit down, savour and enjoy food as part of feeling genuinely satiated, nourished and allowing food to digest without the impediment of stress hormones creating a maelstrom of poor digestive consequences: bloating, indigestion, leaky gut, constipation etc.

There's much research to show that gut health is intrinsically connected to brain health and the strength of the immune system and all other systems of the body. When you get a moment, have a look at this TED talk: Food for thought: How your belly controls your brain.



Gut flora is a term that refers to the environment of bacteria within the gut which is highly sensitive to foods, environment, stress and overall fitness and health. The healthier and richer our gut flora, the more energy we have, the greater absorption of nutrients from food and the greater ability to CREATE nutrients. It also feeds the immune system, fending off disease and allergic responses as well as maintaining a fit metabolism and regulating weight.

The most common and preventable factors that damage gut flora are continual use of NSAIDs (ibuprofen, over-the-counter and prescription pain killers and anti inflammatories), chemicals found in processed foods and commonly used in agriculture, household cleaners and beauty products, preservatives and food colourings and flavours, excess fructose and simple carbohydrate consumption, chronic stress and lack of sleep and routine sleep and meal times.

Raw food - food not heated above 36 degrees - contains the richest source of nutrients and enzymes. These enzymes allow for foods to be digested without requiring the body to use up its own enzymes in trying to break down foods and extract micronutrients during the digestive process. With sufficient quantity and diversity of raw vegetables and plant-based foods (nuts, legumes, etc), these simple protein chains create complex chains of proteins that fuel the body adequately and ideally. It is common for vegans to be deficient in iron and B12 though and in these situations, it may be wise to supplement with the recommended daily dosage or with the assistance and advice of a nutritionist, dietitian or medical practitioner.
gut health

Here's the essential spices to start including in your meals to boost gut health

Turmeric
Cinnamon
Ginger
Fennel
Cumin
Coriander
Peppermint
Chilli
superfoods


Here's the essential prebiotic & probiotic foods to include in your weekly meals (bitter and fermented foods are superpowered gut medicine, don't be afraid to try them)


Dandelion Greens
Jerusalem Artichoke
Leeks
Asparagus
Garlic
Onions
Bananas
Apples
Walnuts 
Almonds
Cacao
Flaxseeds
Kelp & Seaweed
Bananas
Pickled ginger
Quinoa
Miso


Sunday, 5 February 2017

Beauty & A Tan That Doesn't Cost The Earth

natural beauty cruelty free

The skin is actually one of the largest organs of the body. We often think of heart, kidneys, liver when we think of organs of the body, but actually the skin is a living, functioning organ that absorbs elements of the environment and especially, the products we put on it.

This is why it's so important to choose carefully what you apply when it comes to skincare, shower gels, cleaning agents, hair products and if you're sensitive, laundry products too.

Many cheap and chemical based beauty and skincare products rely on parabens as a cheap, easy preservative to extend the life of products on shelf. Parabens are entirely man-made and synthetic.
butterfly tattoo
They mimic hormones within the body and once absorbed into the skin, can change and warp the natural balance of hormones within the body. The short and long term effect of this has not been thoroughly researched but since hormones rule everything from mood, fertility, appetite, appearance, sleep and immune system, it would pay to be careful with the endocrine system. 
Natural products often opt for ingredients like grapeseed oil as a natural preservative. Pay attention to the ingredients list and there are quite a number of great books out on natural beauty that explain ingredients and what to avoid in common household and body products.

Another excellent reason to opt for natural ingredients in your skincare is to be earth friendly. Less chemicals produced and manufactured into skincare and beauty products means less toxic products released into the waterways, air and earth before, during production and after use.
nutrimetics vegan beauty

Here are some of the products I've discovered recently that align with my goal to use primarily organic, natural and eco-friendly, skin friendly beauty and body products. Nutrimetics makes a whole range of targeted skincare as well as body care from shower gels to deodorant and makeup. I've been using and loving their Black Cherry Shower Gel, Honey and Almond Scrub for face, and the super nourishing apricot based Nutri-Rich Oil


Ink Nurse is a Melbourne-made tattoo healing cream that is just as vital for your freshly done work as it is for years' old work that you want to keep fresh after a bit too much time exposed to the sun. It uses all natural products and is vegan friendly and no parabens. As they say themselves, "A badass, ethical, cruelty-free, product that no one else compares to when it comes to tattoo skin care." True! Hoping to see it at more Melbourne studios.
eco tan natural tanning

Eco Tan is an organically certified, skin loving and naturally derived tanning range that has won awards for its face and body products. As someone who lives in Lycra and doesn't tan naturally, I'm all about the tan in a bottle! Just as with Ink Nurse and Nutrimetics, Eco Tan is fully organic and vegan. Their Eco Tan Face Tan Water is the best facial tanning product I've ever used and I've used plenty of tanning brands over the past 15 years. No nasty smell and the colour of both face and body (my choice is Cacao Firming Mousse) are totally believable: deep enough to look like you've been sunning on St Kilda beach but not so deep it looks like you fell asleep there all day.



Cruelty Free Beauty

Now that the vegan lifestyle is no longer identified with kale-socks-and-sandals and anaemic hippies, there’s a growing curiosity and ...