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The One Thing You Should Be Eating for Your Immune System + a Seedy Loaf Recipe

Over 2000 years ago, Hippocrates suggested that all disease begins in the gut, and you know what? I have a gut feeling he was onto something. 

We know the gastrointestinal tract houses almost 70% of the immune system and is impacted by the microbiome, diet, and stress levels.1  

If you’ve ever been stressed about an important meeting or presentation, drank a few too many coffees, and then fallen sick a couple of days before your big moment, you’ll know this to be true (and highly inconvenient!). Science says that stress, along with an imbalanced diet, can trigger inflammation and lead to a cold or flu.  

Luckily, a balanced diet with minimal stress helps reduce inflammation and regulate immunity.  

What can you do to support a healthy immune system?

Along with stress-busting activities that you can read about here, there are plenty of ways you can naturally support your immune system. 

Eating a nourishing and balanced diet is my preferred way to support your immunity. I recommend you focus on functional foods, which act as a form of preventative medicine.2

One of my favourite classes of functional foods is called polyphenols, which naturally support immunity, regulate the gut response, and decrease allergic symptoms.3 Polyphenols are some of the most abundant chemicals in the plant kingdom and are produced by plants as their own medicine to help them protect against stress (how’s that for a bit of iso trivia?).  

Plants also use polyphenols to protect themselves against pests, diseases, and UV light. The healthier, more diverse the soil, the higher the polyphenol number, which is good news for our plants. That’s another vote for plants being grown organically rather than chemically with fertilised soil.

But I know you’re not here to talk about foliage (or, maybe you are. In that case, check out my plant!) 

Green thumbs, unite!

Luckily for us, polyphenols have a similar impact on human health, and, like plants, the healthier the soil (or, in our case, our microbiome), the more polyphenols can be used.   

While polyphenols may sound like a bit of a fancy-schmancy trend, you’re likely sipping on polyphenols right now; they’re not hard to find. Tea, vegetables, and fruit are all rich in polyphenols. Examples of polyphenols are flavonoids found in herbal tea, cacao, chia seeds, ellagitannins in pomegranate and resveratrol found in red wine. 

How can we absorb polyphenols? 

Polyphenols are too big to be absorbed directly by the gut, and our gut can’t break them down into smaller fragments.

So, what can we do? 

Nothing. I just thought I’d share this information with you! 

Thanks for reading the blog; I hope it was worthwhile. 

Just kidding. 

While polyphenols can’t be absorbed in the small intestine, they can travel down to the part of the gut inhabited by trillions of microbes. These microbes can break it down (insert DJ noise here) into smaller absorbable molecules which can enter the bloodstream and exert their health-promoting effects throughout the body.4 Isn’t the body capable of incredible things? 

So, what exactly are these health-promoting effects, you ask. 

Pomegranate is a good source of polyphenols. Indian Chicken with Pomegranate

Health Benefits of Polyphenols

Immunity 

Polyphenols are antioxidants that contribute to the prevention of immune diseases.4 Polyphenols promote immunity by removing foreign pathogens to fight infection and bacteria and signal pathways that initiate immune responses.4 Evidence has found that polyphenols are effective in regulating the immune system response, decreasing symptoms of allergic disease, and even inhibiting tumour-related activity.4

Asthma, allergies, and eczema, and related disorders, can be associated with overactive immune cells  and studies indicate that Fulvic Humic Concentrate can act as an anti-inflammatory by reducing the release of pro-inflammatory mediators from cells. 

Gut Health

Polyphenols are excellent for gut health as they modulate bacteria in the gut microbiome. Specific polyphenols can increase or inhibit the growth of particular bacteria, which can change the composition of the gut microbiome and reduce pathogens.5,6 And we know that a balanced digestive system is key to a healthy immune system, so this is the news we needed to hear!  You can also try our Love Your Gut powder or capsules to help balance your digestive micro flora and modulate bacteria. 

Where can you find polyphenols?

The best way to consume polyphenols is through the diet. 

You can find polyphenols in:

  • Chia seeds: get bready for my Chia and Flaxseed Loaf down below! 
  • Nuts: go nuts for my Sweet Spiced Nuts.

  • Turmeric: these delectable fudgey Turmeric Fudge pieces will surprise and delight. 

What else can you do to support the immune system?

  • Eat a variety of plant foods daily and ensure you have enough fibre, as this is required to digest polyphenols. 
  • Prioritise rest and aim for at least eight hours of sleep a night.  
  • Move your body regularly in a way that works for you. 
  • Try to manage your stress levels. 
  • Focus on maintaining hygiene.  

And now, for the moment you've all been waiting for: My Chia and Flaxseed Loaf

Chia and Flaxseed Loaf

Makes One Loaf

This is my daily polyphenol hit in the form of a slice of toast. Use it for a blissful open-top sandwiches or a mouthwatering and satisfying toasted sandwich. 

Ingredients

  • 350 g (12 oz/21/3 cups) gluten-free self-raising flour
  • 30 g (1 oz/1/4 cup) ground flaxseeds
  • 20 g (3/4 oz/1/4 cup) chia seeds
  • 115 g (4 oz/3/4 cup) mixed sunflower seeds and pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 organic eggs
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 80 ml(21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) tablespoons additive-free coconut milk
  • 1 tsp maple syrup or 6 drops stevia liquid
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) filtered water

 Method

  • Preheat the oven to 175°C (345°F/Gas 3–4) and grease and flour a 20 x 9 cm (8 x 31/2 inch) loaf (bar) tin.
  • Combine the flour, flaxseed, chia, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and salt in a bowl and mix until combined.
  • In a separate large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the eggs for about 2 minutes – they should be pale and fluffy.
  • Stir in the apple cider vinegar, butter, coconut milk, maple syrup or stevia and water. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the flour mixture and stir well to combine.
  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the loaf comes out clean.
  • Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

This loaf will keep for one week in the fridge or two months in the freezer. 

References

1Vighi, G., Marcucci, F., Sensi, L., Di Cara, G., & Frati, F. (2008). Allergy and the gastrointestinal system. Clinical and experimental immunology, 153 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), 3–6. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.x

2M. del Cornò, B. Scazzocchio, R. Masella, and S. Gessani, “Regulation of dendritic cell function by dietary polyphenols,” Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, vol. 56, no. 5, pp. 737–747, 2016.

3Sujuan Ding, Hongmei Jiang, Jun Fang, “Regulation of Immune Function by Polyphenols”, Journal of Immunology Research, vol. 2018, Article ID 1264074, 8 pages, 2018.https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/1264074

4Filosa, S., Di Meo, F., & Crispi, S. (2018). Polyphenols-gut microbiota interplay and brain neuromodulation. Neural regeneration research, 13(12), 2055–2059. https://doi.org/10.4103/1673-5374.241429

5Rastmanesh R. High polyphenol, low probiotic diet for weight loss because of intestinal microbiota interaction. Chem Biol Interact. 2011;189:1–8.

6Duenas M, Munoz-Gonzalez I, Cueva C, Jimenez-Giron A, Sanchez-Patan F, Santos-Buelga C, Moreno-Arribas MV, Bartolome B. A survey of modulation of gut microbiota by dietary polyphenols. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:850902

Five Herbal Infusions that can Supercharge your Smoothies

If you're a lover of smoothies, but bored with the same old bananas, berries or greens, I've got some great news for you. If you're keen to switch things up and supercharge your nutrition even further, then read on...

I'd love to introduce you to our brand-new resident herbalist and naturopath Sulin Sze who'll be sharing some wonderful information about herbalism and naturopathy.

You can read more about Sulin and her qualifications here.

Over to you Sulin...

Using herbal medicines in your cooking and smoothie making is a simple and fun way to turn your everyday smoothie into a super-healer. So I’m going to introduce you here to my top five healing herbs to use in smoothies, and show you what parts to use and how much. Exciting right?

Everybody can make a herbal infusion. They’re prepared by adding fresh or dried herbs to a liquid like water or milk. Sometimes they’re made with oils as well, but often that’s more as a way of preparing ointments and creams. I use infusions ALL THE TIME (#infusionqueen) in my kitchen, as medicines, in drinks and in foods as well. For example the gluten-free seed loaf below uses a base of Nettle infusion so it’s even richer rich in minerals, vitamins and protein. Sound good?

Read on and I’ll tell you all about Nettle and more.

Photo credit: Sulin Sze (2019)

One of my favourite ways to use infusions is in smoothies. Simply replace the water or milk in your recipe with a cooled infusion and you’re ready to go. It’s as easy as that!

So let’s look at my top herbs to use in infusions and get you started. I’ll be breaking down the best way to prepare each one in an infusion to maximise your extract quality. Not all herbs like hot water. Some like it cold, some like milk. Anyone interested in learning more on infusion techniques can check out my dedicated infusions webinar here.

In this post we will be exploring different smoothie themes:

  • Boosting your Beauty with Stinging Nettle
  • Boosting your Brains with Ginkgo biloba
  • Healing your Digestive System with Calendula
  • Calming your sweet soul with Chamomile
  • And a glow-inducing Women’s health booster with Shatavari

Now it’s time to ramp up your smoothie repertoire!

Photo credit: Sulin Sze (2019) Stinging Nettle is great in smoothies, consider adding the fresh herb or an infusion of the dried leaves to your next morning smoothie for a green multivitamin booster.

  1. Beauty with Urtica dioica - Stinging Nettle (leaf)

Benefits: Detoxifying – Antioxidant – Blood Sugar Lowering – Nutrition Boosting

Let me introduce you to one of my favourite nourishing, anti-aging herbs that also happens to cleanse your blood and support healthy blood sugar regulation. It’s Stinging Nettle, and it contains a plethora of vitamins including vitamins A, B, E, C, K and P along with the minerals selenium, zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium.

It also contains lots of protein (in effect, lots of amino acids) to help you build your neurochemicals like dopamine and serotonin. Along with the ample protein content, the herb contains coumarins, fatty acids, antioxidants that fight free radicals and the amazing quercetin (which is thought to inhibit the activity of elastase and collagenase, enzymes that break down collagen and reduce skin elasticity. And we don’t want that!)

I prescribe Nettle regularly to clients in clinic for a range of conditions from acne, rheumatism and hair loss to pre-diabetes. A 2019 systematic review of nettle in diabetes revealed the herb can assist in control blood sugar levels in type two diabetic patients. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 1.2 million Australian reported having diabetes in 2017/2018 with the condition contributing to 11% of deaths nationwide during that time. Bringing in a herb that fights ageing and helps manage blood sugars is a good thing!

Try adding 1 Tbsp of dried Stinging Nettle leaves to a cup of water. Leave it in the fridge overnight to infuse slowly. No need to use hot water. However, if you’re pressed for time, pop the leaves into hot, boiled water and sit for 15 minutes, then cool in the fridge until you’re ready to make that beauty boosting smoothie.

I recommend Nettle infusion + Spinach or Kale leaves + Pineapple (fresh or frozen) + vitamin C powder + Collagen powder

  1. Brains with Ginkgo biloba - (Ginkgo) leaves

Benefits: Antioxidant – Cognition Boosting – Memory Enhancing

Who wouldn’t love a little more focus, memory and cognition? I’m a full-time parent and worker and I couldn’t live without my Ginkgo! It keeps me clear-headed and helps me get through my daily ‘to do’ list with grace 😊

Herbalists use the leaves of the Ginkgo tree to enhance memory and cognition and to reduce oxidative damage to the brain. So this herb is perfect for a morning smoothie with a cleansing action that might also include celery, greens, chlorophyll and a touch of dates (because well, sweet dates ground the blend and your brain thrives on a little natural sugar in the morning.)

Ginkgo improves brain function by acting as an antioxidant and protecting cell membranes from reactive oxygen species (ROS) that cause the breakdown of important neurotransmitters like acetylcholine, which play a role in memory and cognition. Depletion of acetylcholine is associated with conditions like Alzheimers and Dementia. High level scientific evidence suggests that Ginkgo is an effective herb in improving cognitive health in Alzheimers and Dementia, and is safe and useful when taken long term (6 months and more).  Infuse 1 Tbsp dried Ginkgo leaves in hot water and steep for 15-30 minutes. Strain and store in the fridge until you’re ready to make your smoothie. If you take blood thinning medication, check with your Doctor before taking Ginkgo as it theoretically can slow blood clotting.

Ginkgo infusion with celery, apple, dates and pear

I suggest Ginkgo leaves infusion + celery + apple + chlorophyll + dates in the morning. You could also do celery + apple + dates + pear.

  1. Gut healing with Calendula officinalis (Calendula)

Healing – Lymphatic booster – Anti-inflammatory – Anti-microbial

You really step into the realm of gut healing with you start working with Calendula. This plant is anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and mildly anti-microbial, and has a resinous, sweet and warm taste. It’s the perfect soothing addition to any gut smoothie, particularly a sweet one because the quality of sweet has an affinity with the digestive system, which is where we want to send those delicious healing nutrients.

Calendula contains chemicals in its volatile oil that fight bacteria and fungi like Candida albicans (a pathogen that causes thrush). A 2000 study of Calendula on various fungal pathogens demonstrated efficacy similar to standard antibiotics, while a 2016 trial found Calendula cream provided longer term benefits in thrush compared to conventional anti-fungal applications. Other chemicals in the plant like the saponins and flavonoids reduce inflammation and calm the gut lining, as well as supporting healthy immune function.

The flavonoids calm down angry, inflamed and damaged mucous membranes, helping them repair. The lining of the gut is central in gut health for harbouring healthy bacteria and flora, protecting the gut lumen against damage and participating in the exchange of nutrients into and out of the digestive tract. Issues with mucous membranes such as damage or breakage, can translate into conditions like leaky gut, ulcerative colitis and immune dysfunction. Even if you don’t have a gut condition, you can enhance and support your gut health with herbs like Calendula to harness your inner glow.

To make Calendula infusion add 2-3 Tbsp dried flowers or petals to hot boiled water. Cover (to retain the volatile oil) and leave to infuse for 15 – 30 minutes. Then strain and store in the fridge until you’re ready to make your digestive system healing smoothie.

I recommend Calendula flower infusion + strawberry+ cucumber + apple/pear + coconut yoghurt + L-Glutamine powder + your favourite probiotic powder.

Photo credit: Sulin Sze (2019) I LOVE Chamomile lattes, and what better way to use them than in a super luxurious smoothie the next day! Consider preparing a Chamomile milk before bed to help you sleep, and putting aside half a cup for your smoothie the next morning.

  1. Calming with Matricaria recutita (German Chamomile) flowers

Soothing – Digestion enhancing – Sedative (mild) – Anti-inflammatory

Chamomile is an aromatic hug for the digestive system, so call on it whenever you experience digestive cramps, sluggishness, diarrhoea, nausea, anxiety or stress. The latter can aggravate and trigger digestive symptoms. Herbalists use Chamomile to relieve inflammation and spasm, likely due to the flavonoids and coumarins that the plant contains. Other nutrients this warm and slightly bitter plant provide include vitamin C, iron, zinc and calcium.

However, Chamomile also has a volatile oil that is popular worldwide in topical products for its calming action. (Note: don’t ingest the essential oil or add it to your smoothie.) Other medicinal actions of Chamomile include anti-oxidant, analgesic (pain relieving) and anti-bacterial.

I love Chamomile for its relaxing and digestion-soothing qualities and this is in part due to its magnesium content. So I recommend using Chamomile in an afternoon smoothie, especially good for kids. Use 1 Tbsp of dried Chamomile flowers in hot boiled water, leaving covered to infuse for 15-30 minutes. Strain and then pop in the fridge to cool until you are ready to make your smoothie.

Chamomile is a bitter herb so if you leave it to infuse for more than 30 minutes, use half the amount. If you’re like me and you prefer to luxuriate in your smoothies, then pop 1 Tbsp Chamomile flowers into a saucepan with 250 mL of your favourite gut loving milk (oat, almond, whatever you like) and gently warm on medium heat for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally and keep covered as much as possible. Strain and store in the fridge until you’re ready to make your smoothie.

I suggest trying Chamomile milk + Banana + Mango + Honey + Yoghurt

  1. Women’s health booster with Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari) in milk

Rejuvenating – Women’s Tonic (“Queen of the Herbs” in Ayurveda) – Adaptogen (Adrenal enhancer)

A lot of my clients are women looking to be the best version of their 40 and 50 something selves. I work with them on balancing and boosting hormonal health, particularly in perimenopause and beyond, because by this time of our lives, we’ve often run our adrenals pretty hard. Even if you’re not feeling like you need a booster, you can still enjoy the harmonising benefits of this ancient Ayurvedic herb! I’m talking about Shatavari (translated from the Sanskrit as something like ‘woman with a hundred husbands’). You get the idea!

Shatavari is rich in compounds called steroidal saponins and they have a beneficial effect on steroid hormone health in humans, especially women. Herbalists use Shatavari partly to improve stress response, and is useful in peri-menopause and menopause where women are at a higher risk of anxiety, sleep disturbance, mood swings and depression. Fear not! We have Shatavari.

It’s also rich in plant oestrogens known as isoflavones (think along the lines of soybeans with their beneficial effects in menopause) along with the minerals zinc, manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, potassium and selenium. Sounding a bit of a miracle plant so far!

I love so much about Shatavari, and I use it to boost adrenal function, improve hormonal status, reduce the symptoms of depression and support new mums.  A 2011 study revealed that daily use of Shatavari in nursing mothers increased their prolactin (and thus milk production) levels three-fold, proving the ancient use of this herb as a lactation booster. I also love the nutty, sweet taste of this herb which blends superbly in milk with a dash of honey.

I suggest adding 2 tsp of Shatavari powder to 2 cups of milk and warming gently on the stove in a small saucepan. Strain and its ready to drink. Drink one cup if you like, and pop the other cup in the fridge so that it can cool down for your next smoothie. It’s best in the morning and loves a lashing of cinnamon powder on top 😉.

Shatavari milk smoothie with cacao, banana and mango

I suggest trying Shatavari milk + Banana and/or Mango + Avocado + Cacao powder + Collagen powder + Chia seeds

I hope I’ve inspired you to break out into the world of herbalism with your smoothies routine. They are powerful healers and a great example of where simple is best! Enjoy!

X Sulin

Special Offer:

Feeling inspired? Want to take your infusions to the next level? Find out how in “Art of the Infusion” the only webinar that is specifically based on infusion making, at wildmedicineacademy.com bringing together my expert knowledge of herbal medicine, formulating and of course, infusion preparation. www.wildmedicineacademy.com

Research

Bourgeois C, Leclerc ÉA, Corbin C, Doussot J, Serrano V, Vanier JR, Seigneuret JM, Auguin D, Pichon C, Lainé É, Hano C. Nettle (Urtica dioica L.) as a source of antioxidant and anti-aging phytochemicals for cosmetic applications. Comptes Rendus Chimie. 2016 Sep 1;19(9):1090-100.

Semalty M, Adhikari L, Semwal D, Chauhan A, Mishra A, Kotiyal R, Semalty A. A comprehensive review on phytochemistry and pharmacological effects of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). Current Traditional Medicine. 2017 Dec 1;3(3):156-67.

Kianbakht S, Khalighi-Sigaroodi F, Dabaghian FH. Improved glycemic control in patients with advanced type 2 diabetes mellitus taking Urtica dioica leaf extract: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Clin Lab. 2013 Jan 1;59(9-10):1071-6.

Ziaei R, Foshati S, Hadi A, Kermani MA, Ghavami A, Clark CC, Tarrahi MJ. The effect of nettle (Urtica dioica) supplementation on the glycemic control of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: A systematic review and meta‐analysis. Phytotherapy Research. 2020 Feb;34(2):282-94.

Adhikari BM, Bajracharya A, Shrestha AK. Comparison of nutritional properties of Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) flour with wheat and barley flours. Food science & nutrition. 2016 Jan;4(1):119-24.

Rutto LK, Xu Y, Ramirez E, Brandt M. Mineral properties and dietary value of raw and processed stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.). International journal of food science. 2013 Oct;2013.

Kregiel D, Pawlikowska E, Antolak H. Urtica spp.: Ordinary plants with extraordinary properties. Molecules. 2018 Jul;23(7):1664.

Singh O, Khanam Z, Misra N, Srivastava MK. Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.): an overview. Pharmacognosy reviews. 2011 Jan;5(9):82.

Chauhan ES, Aishwarya J. Nutraceutical Analysis of Marticaria recutita (Chamomile) Dried Leaves and Flower Powder and Comparison between Them. International Journal of Phytomedicine. 2018;10(2):111-4.

Crane PR, Crane P, von Knorring P. Ginkgo: the tree that time forgot. Yale University Press; 2013 Mar 19.

Cohn R. Ginkgo: The Life Story of the Oldest Tree on Earth. Interview published in Yale Environment, 2013, 360.

Thomsen, M and Gennat, H. Phytotherapy: Desk Reference. Global Natural Medicine; 2009. Australia

Fermino BA, Milanez MC, de Freitas GB, da Silva WC, Pereira RP, da Rocha JB, Bonini JS. Ginkgo biloba L.: Phytochemical components and antioxidant activity. African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 2015 Oct 15;9(38):950-5.

Alok S, Jain SK, Verma A, Kumar M, Mahor A, Sabharwal M. Plant profile, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari): A review. Asian Pacific journal of tropical disease. 2013 Apr 1;3(3):242-51.

Sharma A, Sharma DN. A comprehensive review of the pharmacological actions of Asparagus racemosus. Am. J. Pharm. Tech. Res. 2017;7(1).

Gupta M, Shaw B. A Double-Blind Randomized Clinical Trial for Evaluation of Galactogogue Activity of Asparagus racemosus Willd. Iranian journal of pharmaceutical research: IJPR. 2011;10(1):167.

Bromberger JT, Kravitz HM, Chang Y, Randolph Jr JF, Avis NE, Gold EB, Matthews KA. Does risk for anxiety increase during the menopausal transition? Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN). Menopause (New York, NY). 2013 May;20(5):488.

Kulkarni J. Perimenopausal depression–an under-recognised entity. Australian prescriber. 2018 Dec;41(6):183.

Weinmann S, Roll S, Schwarzbach C, Vauth C, Willich SN. Effects of Ginkgo biloba in dementia: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC geriatrics. 2010 Dec;10(1):1-2.

Hashiguchi M, Ohta Y, Shimizu M, Maruyama J, Mochizuki M. Meta-analysis of the efficacy and safety of Ginkgo biloba extract for the treatment of dementia. Journal of pharmaceutical health care and sciences. 2015 Dec;1(1):1-2.

Liu H, Ye M, Guo H. An updated review of randomized clinical trials testing the improvement of cognitive function of Ginkgo biloba extract in healthy people and Alzheimer’s patients. Frontiers in pharmacology. 2020 Feb 21;10:1688.

Zhou Y, Zeng R. Effects of Ginkgo biloba extract on anticoagulation and blood drug level of warfarin in healthy wolunteers. Zhongguo Zhong yao za zhi= Zhongguo zhongyao zazhi= China journal of Chinese materia medica. 2011 Aug 1;36(16):2290-3.

Stoddard GJ, Archer M, Shane-McWhorter L, Bray BE, Redd DF, Proulx J, Zeng-Treitler Q. Ginkgo and warfarin interaction in a large veterans administration population. InAMIA Annual Symposium Proceedings 2015 (Vol. 2015, p. 1174). American Medical Informatics Association.

Johansson ME, Sjövall H, Hansson GC. The gastrointestinal mucus system in health and disease. Nature reviews Gastroenterology & hepatology. 2013 Jun;10(6):352.

Kasiram K, Sakharkar PR, Patil AT. Antifungal activity of Calendula officinalis. Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2000;62(6):464.

Saffari E, Mohammad-Alizadeh-Charandabi S, Adibpour M, Mirghafourvand M, Javadzadeh Y. Comparing the effects of Calendula officinalis and clotrimazole on vaginal Candidiasis: A randomized controlled trial. Women & health. 2017 Nov 26;57(10):1145-60.

Low Carb Fisherman’s Pie

With Sydney lockdown in full swing and searches for how to lose “COVID kilos” at an all time high, I’ve been keen to make ‘healthier’ versions of my favourite hearty comfort dishes. Speaking of weight, it's important to remember that weight is bound to fluctuate during these times, and when you're out of your usual routine, change is almost inevitable. A good thing to understand when it comes to body changes is that when you experience feelings of guilt and shame, these can be worse for your health than noticing a few extra kilos on the scales, so be kind and gentle with yourself and practice self love.

Speaking of scales, I'd love to share with you my low carb fisherman’s pie. It’s the ultimate comforting dish to warm the heart and fill your tummy. 

In this version, instead of the traditional white sauce, topped with creamy mashed potato, I’ve opted for a coconut cream and fluffy cauliflower mash as a topping. If you prefer to lower the fat content you can also switch from coconut cream to coconut milk or stock.

I’ve also swapped the cheese for nutritional yeast flakes, to impart a cheesy nutty feel and I've added peas, because as they say, it's good to speak your truth or forever hold your peas.

This adaptable fish pie recipe has so many variations available, which means that you can do the whole DIY thing entirely.  If you prefer to add more vegetables you can add spinach, carrot, and leek. Also, some traditional fish pies use boiled eggs, an ingredient that you may like to include in yours.

A fish pie can be created with different varieties of fish, I’ve used basa and salmon for a dash of pink, but you could use any mixture of cod, barramundi, or your favourite firm white fish.

Please enjoy this fish pie pie-ping hot as a weeknight or weekend dinner. It’s a great freezer friendly dish that can be perfect for the whole family. I served mine with mix of pumpkin and potato chips to mop up all the deliciousness.

You can watch a video about how to make it here...

I’d love to know what you think?  Let me know in the comments section below.

 Low Carb Fish Pie

Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 large cauliflower chopped into florets
  • 2 tbs olive oil or butter
  • 4 spring onions sliced finely
  • 3 sticks celery
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2/3 cup coconut cream/coconut milk or stock
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 skinless salmon fillet (250 mg)
  • 300 gms white fish fillet (ling, snapper or basa), cut into 3cm pieces
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Large handful chopped flat leaf parsley plus extra to serve
  • Sprinkle nutritional yeast on top and add golden gut blend or love your gut powder
  • Potato or pumpkin chips, to serve
  • Lemon wedges, to serve

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius

Place the florets in simmering water and cook covered until tender. The florets can be verging on soft but shouldn’t be falling apart. Transfer the cauliflower to a blender or food processor and add the olive oil or butter if using, and a pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Blend until smooth and fluffy. Set aside.

Meanwhile in an oven proof saucepan or casserole dish/pie dish heat olive oil in the pan on the stove top. Add the spring onions, celery and garlic and sauté over a medium heat until caramelised.

Pour in the coconut cream/milk or stock if using and simmer for a couple of minutes then add the peas, fish, lemon juice, parsley and mustard and stir for a few minutes

Carefully remove from the heat and cover with the cauliflower, dragging a fork across to make little trenches. Top with nutritional yeast flakes.

Bake uncovered in the oven for 15 minutes

When crispy on top remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Garnish with a few springs of flat leaf parsley and serve with greens or pumpkin fries 

Lee xo

Gut Friendly Salmon Chowder

salmon chowder

If you haven’t tried my salmon chowder recipe yet you’re in for a soFISHticated treat. Holy mackerel it’s good. I've been making this alot during our (extended) lockdown in Sydney, it's such a comforting dish and you can store all of the ingredients in your freezer and pantry.

Bursting with flavour and anti-inflammatory fats, this creamy, hearty dish tastes just as good as if served in a restaurant, but being completely additive-free it’ll leave you feeling satisfied without the digestive storm aftermath.

Eating an anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce inflammation in the body and even reduce the symptoms of certain conditions that are either caused by or worsened by inflammation, such as heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, asthma, and arthritis. Best of all, many anti-inflammatory foods are often classed as “superfoods” in that they are nutritionally dense and offer a number of additional benefits, including disease prevention, weight loss, and boosting energy levels.

Chow down on this chowder to experience the gut-healing effects of salmon, one of the best foods to consume for its anti-inflammatory properties. The Omega-3 fatty acids in salmon have been linked with protection against several gastrointestinal diseases, through their anti-inflammatory activity and their ability to boost healthy microorganisms in the gut. It's also a great skin booster to plump up skin cells and avoid any need for a plastic Sturgeon. (more…)

Foods to Eat While Taking Birth Control Pills

While it continues to be a controversial topic, the birth control pill has offered women the opportunity to have more control over their reproductive health and choose the time when they are ready to have children. However, in recent times, science has also shown that taking birth control pills comes with some very real risks.

Blood clots, cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, strokes, and breast cancer are just some of the potential side effects of taking hormonal birth control pills. Studies are also now showing that these pills may have an effect on gut health as well.

What Birth Control Pills Do to the Body

Birth control pills introduce hormones into the body to prevent pregnancy. However, since the natural function of the body is to maintain hormonal balance, any introduction of hormones causes a disruption.

Here are some ways birth control pills affect the body:

Deplete antioxidants

Antioxidants protect us from free radicals, which are molecules that cause DNA damage. They are also anti-aging because they are able to protect and repair cells. However, birth control pills may deplete us of important antioxidants. Two of these major antioxidants are vitamin C and vitamin E.

Deplete Essential B Vitamins and Key Minerals

The birth control pill is known to deplete us of vitamins such as folate, biotin, pyridoxine (B6), and cobalamin (B12). Selenium, zinc, and magnesium are some minerals that may also be depleted while on the pill. Deficiencies in these vitamins and minerals may lead to conditions such as depression, mood disorders, and anxiety.

Affect Gut Health

According to studies, oral contraceptives affect gut flora as well as the metabolism of estrogen. As a result, the gut’s health is affected and women on the pill have reported experiencing conditions such as:

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Abdominal pain
  • Mental fog
  • Constipation
  • Acne
  • Indigestion
  • Acid reflux

Love Your Gut powder, capsules and Fulvic Humic Concentrate can help with gut related issues.

What to Eat While on the Pill

If you are currently on the pill, there are a few things you can do to negate some of the side effects and mitigate vitamin and mineral deficiencies through a healthy and conscious choice of nutrient-dense foods to heal our gut. Take a look at some of them.

Banana

The vitamin B6 in bananas boosts serotonin levels in the brain. Higher serotonin levels counter mood swings caused by birth control pills. Bananas are also high in potassium, a great energy source.

Curd

Curd is made by curdling milk with an edible, acidic substance such as vinegar or lemon juice.  

Curd is very rich in probiotics and vitamin B. It helps reduce feelings of nausea and headaches.

Citrus Fruits

Damage to skin and hair can occur when one is nutrient-deficient. You can reverse this damage by consuming citrus fruits, which are high in vitamin C. This vitamin can also be found in other foods like strawberries, bell peppers, pineapple, tomatoes, kiwi, and broccoli. 

Avocado

Avocado is probably one of the healthiest fruits in the world. It is rich in folate and omega-3 fatty acids, and is a tasty source of magnesium. It helps regulate hormonal imbalances by reducing absorption of estrogen while boosting testosterone levels.

Fish

Hair loss may be one side effect of taking the pill. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish is believed to help regulate the body’s functions. In the process, it triggers hair growth, nourishes hair follicles, and promotes hair strength.

Oats

Aside from providing fibre, whole grains are a rich source of magnesium. This is a great way to replenish the magnesium and other minerals lost by taking birth control pills.

Almonds

Free radical damage on the skin may cause premature aging. Almonds are rich in antioxidants, and may help negate this effect.

Taking oral contraceptives is a personal choice. If birth control pills are a necessary part of your life, work on incorporating foods like those listed above into your diet as often as possible so your body can mitigate any potential side effects.

Ten ways to simplify your life + a cozy Green Soup for lockdown

We're halfway through 2021, and I wanted to write this blog as a bit of a check-in. I'm writing this in the middle of a Sydney COVID-19 lockdown and I'm using it as my reminder to look back at 2021 new year resolutions (remember those?) and assess what I've achieved, what's happened so far and how I've been feeling.

My goal throughout this year has been to simplify my life, both physically, mentally and emotionally. 

That’s it.

I know.

Simple, right? 

Well, I've downsized homes, gotten rid of a lot of stuff I didn't need or use, tidied up my finances and my relationships to spend time working on underlying trauma.

Doing so has left me feeling alot more balanced and calm and helped me erase the exterior to focus on my own needs and desires, not the needs and desires of everyone around me.

Let me say that one more time for the people at the back: focus on your own needs and desires, not the needs and wants of everyone around you.

So, here’s a list of ten of the ways I’ve simplified my life this year. You may resonate with one, all or none of these, but it’s time to tune into your own radio station and figure out what you want, what you need and what you can leave behind. 

  1. Downsize your Environment 

At the beginning of this year, I moved out of the bustling eastern suburbs of Sydney to the calm and quiet of Palm Beach, also known as Summer Bay, for those who watch Home and Away. As someone who’s lived close to the city for most of their life, I didn’t truly understand how your external environment can make your heart beat faster and increase the rate of your breath until I left.

While everything here runs on Palm Beach Mean Time rather than Stressed City Time (commonly known as AEST, haha), I've grown to love it. People here aren't rushing from one thing to another; when you go for a walk, everyone moves slowly and greets you. I live with my daughter and Oscar our dog and Tinkerbell the cat love it too. 

While I know everyone can’t move home, it’s worth looking at how your external environment impacts your internal environment – your mental health, stress and anxieties and seeing how you can downsize and simplify it.

2. Minimise your Things

If your wardrobe looks like your clothes are at war, begging for room to breathe, this one’s for you!

When I moved homes, I had to take my stuff with me, and there was more than I had realised that had accumulated. As someone who considers themselves somewhat minimalist, I was surprised at how much unnecessary stuff and clutter I still had. So, I went on a decluttering mission. 

I sorted my clothes into yes, no and maybe piles. 

My no pile went into bins to be sold or donated, and my yes pile went into my suitcase. I then asked myself if I needed and wore the maybe items. If the answer was yes, I kept it. If not, it went into my donation pile. 

Now I have a capsule closet – I only have one or two of everything in my closet and stick to the basics. As hard as it may seem to say goodbye to the thirteen identical black pants from your corporate days, I can honestly tell you that you won't miss them, and you'll know they're in a new, good home where someone wears them. 

The same theory goes for my beauty products. I have a couple of products that do more than one thing, like tinted sunscreen or an oil cleanser.

Simplifying my clutter has helped me make room for other things that I value more.

3. Live in Alignment with Nature

Have you ever been praised for being busy or for doing it all? Or perhaps, you’ve peered into someone else’s life and couldn’t understand how they do everything.

If someone looks like they're doing a brilliant job at juggling it all, they're probably not juggling everything at all. If someone is saying yes to every work opportunity or event, perhaps they're saying no to their health or time with their loved ones. While things can look easy from the outside, the hustling lifestyle many of us lead can't last forever without some burnout and unwanted compromise.

As a previous juggler (not in the circus, in real life), I’ve transitioned to living a life more attuned to nature’s rhythms. I wake with the sun, walk in nature, meditate next to the ocean and rest when I feel the call to do so. While it’s not exactly the hustling lifestyle advertised by every entrepreneur on Instagram, living this way has calmed me down, gotten me back to basics and helped me focus on what I find most important.

I’ve also spent lots of time with my dog and cat to put me in touch with cycles and seasons. Their needs are simple – they need care, love, food and walks outdoors, and I’ve realised, as humans, we don’t really need much more than that. 

4. Simplify your Diet 

I've cut down on the fancy mushrooms, superfoods and exotic foods and focused on the foods and supplements that help me feel best and are easy to prepare. I use Love Your Gut Powder for gut health and Fulvic Humic Concentrate for energy.  I shop at my local farmers market and only head to bigger grocery stores for essentials. I've been eating at fewer restaurants and instead focus on cooking foods I enjoy. We've been enjoying this Green Eggs No Ham Frittata lately.

When I feel like a slow-cooked delight, I’ll pop either my hearty lamb shanks with root veggies or low FODMAP hearty meatball stew and slow-cooked ham hock soup  in the slow cooker and let it sit all day while I work. When it’s time for dinner, these meals are ready and waiting for me to savour and enjoy.

I'm also sharing my easiest lockdown green soup recipe below, just scroll down for the video. It's a great recipe if you haven't got much in the pantry and want to eat something nutritious and calming.

I’ve also upped my smoothie game. I mean, is there anything easier than a smoothie? I think not. If you’re looking for some smooth smoothie inspiration, my top three smoothies at the moment are my vegan edible smoothie, microalgae green smoothie and pretty in pink smoothie.

5. Daily Meditation 

Vedic meditation came into my life last year, a time when I needed it most. That said, I wish I added it into my routine twenty years ago. Meditation has been one of my most significant catalysts for simplifying my life and has come with many benefits.

Vedic meditation has helped me:

  • Turn inward and work on my trauma.
  • Live in the present.
  • Increase my creativity.
  • Sleep better and have more energy.
  • Increase my intuition and awareness.
  • Decrease my anxiety and stress.
  • Turn inward and stop seeking external validation.
  • Understand my place in the world and my purpose.

I meditate daily and can say it’s been a life-changer.

If you want to find out more about Vedic Meditation, you can read about it here.

6. Create a Budget

Is money a dirty word for you? Does the idea of a budget make you cringe? 

Money can feel overwhelming, tedious, and like it's meant for someone else and yet, to others, money can help them create freedom and live more in alignment with their values. If you want the latter, it's time to simplify your relationship with money.

When I took the time to understand my income and outgoings and how they balanced out, I created a budget that I can stick to which makes me more conscious of where I spend my money. For example, I enjoy making my own homemade sticky chai above, instead of buying one out.

Perhaps it's time to make a budget, have a look at where most of your money goes or simplify your superannuation. 

7. Downsize your Relationships and Media Time 

The more work I've done on myself, the more I've realised that I am responsible for the time I spend on things that aren't working for me.

I've distanced myself from friendships that were no longer serving me to make way for new and deeper relationships that make me laugh, feel supported and who fill my cup rather than take away from it. 

The same goes for my social media and email list. I’ve unfollowed and unsubscribed from people and businesses who don’t inspire me or make me laugh. I’ve limited my time online to make time for enjoyment.

I also close all of the tabs on my computer at the end of the day – I find it easier to start each day with a blank screen and focus on one thing at a time. I spend less time overworking and more time looking after my mental health.

8. Create a Routine and Stay Open to Learning

Creating physical distance from my previous life has helped me think about what serves me and what doesn't. As a result, I've started to make more firm boundaries about living in a way that fits me. I have a routine that brings me joy and fulfilment.

As an introverted word nerd, I make time to meditate, cook balanced meals, read books at home, play card and boardgames like cribbage and backgammon, garden and learn. I've also completed my advanced diploma in clinical nutrition this year which was four years in the making. There is always time to learn more about nutrition and the things that interest you.

What does your routine look like, and how can you simplify it to suit you more?

9. Learn How to Say No 

The more you say yes to other people, the less you say yes to yourself. Sit with that for a second.

Where in your life are you saying yes when you really want to say no?

I've said yes to other people for a long time and found it the ultimate energy drainer. 

I now ask myself what I want before I mindlessly reply yes to keep everyone else happy; this goes for anything from business invitations or time with friends. While it's not always easy, if something doesn't feel right, I'll say no.

Let's leave people-pleasing in 2020. Thank you, next.

   10. Trust the Process and Don't Give Up

If you’ve read this blog, you’ll know that last year was one of the most challenging years I've ever had, and I know I'm not alone in that. While I'm so lucky to live my life, it hasn't always been easy. I've had to let go of my grasp of what I know to be true and trust that everything will fall into place.

When I loosened my grip a little, it made me realise that I needed to move away from the hustle and bustle of the big city and let go of friendships and things to make way for new ones, and so far, it’s been the change I needed.

I’d love to know – do you resonate with any of these? Let me know in the comments what you have done or want to do to simplify your life.

I'd also love you to try this delicious and very easy to make Green Soup that I've been making in the recent Sydney lockdown.

You can watch a video of how to make it here.

Lock Down Green Soup 🌿 🌿 🌿

Serves 2-3

  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen beans
  • 1 cup frozen broccoli
  • Any fresh greens in crisper drawer such as broccoli/ snap peas/ zucchini (optional)
  • Handful fresh rocket/ spinach
  • 2 sprigs fresh coriander
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 tbs tamari
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • Nutritional yeast flakes and coriander to serve
  • Olive oil if using

Method

  • If using fresh greens place in a tray in the oven drizzle with olive oil and bake for 20 mins
  • If using frozen green veg place in saucepan and warm through, adding any other cooked greens you have plus rocket and coriander
  • Add a squeeze of lemon
  • Pour in vegetable stock and stir and bring to the boil and cook for 5 mins
  • Add tamari and stir
  • Pour in coconut milk
  • Place in blender and whizz until smooth
  • Pour into a bowl and top with nutritional yeast, coriander and stir in some Love Your Gut Powder to serve 🌿

Enjoy the recipe 🙂

Lee xo 

Healthiest Beans and Legumes to Eat + Black Bean Burgers with Lemon and Garlic Aioli

While beans may be famed for being the musical fruit, there’s a lot more to them than meets the ears/nose/eye. 

Let’s face it, beyond the stockpiling of beans that happened at the beginning of a certain P-word last year, many of us had never picked up a can of beans in our lives. When we did, many of us didn’t know what to do with them. Sound familiar?

Let me tell you that beyond being the backbone of hummus, delicious Mexican chilli and my favourite dish ever, Supercharged dahl, legumes are nutrient-dense and rich in fibre, B vitamins and protein. Plus, they’re beneficial for the health of our heart, gut and waistline.

So, it’s time for the battle of the fittest: Today, I'd love to share with you which bean or legume is the healthiest. 

First up, we have chickpeas.

Chickpeas

Pros: Firstly, hummus. That’s all we need to know (only kidding). Chickpeas are full of fibre and 19g of protein per 100g. They reduce our blood sugar level, reduce our risk of severe diseases and send our LDL cholesterol into a decline. Plus, the water tinned chickpeas swims in is called aquafaba, which is extremely fun to say and great for replacing whipped egg whites.

Cons: Canned chickpeas can contain a hefty amount of sodium and sugar. To avoid this, opt for canned chickpeas with no added salt or boil them yourself.

How to consume them: Make hummus or use them in my Vegetable Marrakesh Casserole recipe here.

Lentils 

Pros: Lentils offer a decent amount of protein, weighing in at 9g of protein per 100g. They also have 3.8g of fibre per 100g serve. Our gut and heart love lentils, as they help improve bowel function by slowing our stomach emptying rate while reducing LDL cholesterol. Lentils also contain antioxidants that can minimise vascular stiffness.

Cons: They’re not as high in protein or fibre as chickpeas. Plus, large amounts can cause bloating and gas and exacerbate gastrointestinal symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome.

How to consume them: Dah, try dahl.

Peas

Pros: Peas, please. Peas are high in fibre, low in fat and contain no cholesterol. Peas are small but mighty, helping to reduce blood triglycerides and increase fullness. 

Cons: Green peas aren’t as high in protein as other legumes, weighing in at only 5g of protein per 100g. 

How to consume them: Have a smashing time with my Crispy Salmon with Saffron, Aioli and Smashed Green Peas

Kidney Beans

Pros: Coming in at a whopping 24g of protein and 25g of fibre per 100g, kidney beans are the dark horse of the legume world. Kidney beans are high in the mineral’s magnesium, zinc and calcium too. They help slow the absorption of sugar into the blood and reduce blood sugar levels. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, kidney beans are used for their ability to tonify blood and yin, clear heat and resolve dampness – sounds pretty cool to me. 

Cons: Like most legumes, improperly cooked kidney beans can cause flatulence, bloating and gastrointestinal issues. 

How to consume them: Jazz up your dinner with my Vegetable and Bean Casserole

Soybeans

Pros: Did you know soybeans, i.e., the bean that tofu is comprised of, is edamame beans! I know! I’ll give you a minute for your mind to be blown. Okay, ready? Soybeans are rich in antioxidants, particularly an antioxidant called isoflavone, which is wonderful during menopause, as it helps mimic the effect of oestrogen in the body. Plus, soybeans help reduce your risk of heart disease.

Cons: While soybeans have an awful reputation for causing man boobs and breast cancer, the jury is out on this one. 

How to consume them: Natural and non-GMO soy products – like tofu, tempeh and edamame beans – are perfectly safe and, dare I say it, good for you to consume in moderation. However, please stay away from soy isoflavone supplements and foods made with soy protein isolate. Tempeh is the star of the show in my Vegan Caesar Salad

Black Beans 

Pros: Black beans contain 8.9g of protein per 100g, and in one serve, 64% of our recommended daily intake of folate and 20% of our intake of iron. They’re also a great source of fibre, antioxidants and excellent for our gut and blood sugar levels.

Cons: All beans, including black beans, contain complex sugars that the body can struggle to digest if we lack certain enzymes – causing gas and GI discomfort. 

How to consume them: Did someone say Black Bean Burgers?

All beans are excellent and beneficial in their own way. If you’re new to beans, I recommend incorporating them into your diet slowly and seeing how your body reacts to avoid untoward effects. 

If you’ve bean (sorry, I couldn’t resist) waiting for a recipe to get you started, I’ve got the perfect one for you. My Black Bean Burgers with Aioli are deliciously nutritious and a total win on the taste factor; even the biggest carnivores won’t know what’s missing.  

Black Bean Burgers with Lemon and Garlic Aioli 

Serves 4

These burgers are also delicious served with a pesto or wholegrain mustard. If you don’t have time to make your own aioli you can use a store bought one.

Ingredients: 

Marinade for mushrooms

  •    60 ml (2 fl oz/1/4 cup) coconut aminos or wheat-free tamari
  •     1 teaspoon coconut sugar
  •     1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  •     4 large portobello mushrooms

Salad

  •     20 g (3/4 oz/1/2 tightly packed cup) rocket (arugula), washed and dried
  •     4 thin slices of red onion
  •     2 tomatoes, sliced
  •     1/2 cucumber, sliced 

Black Bean Patties

Ingredients:

  •     75 g (23/4 oz/1/2 cup) sunflower seeds
  •     75 g (23/4 oz/1/2 cup) pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  •     1 carrot, grated
  •     400 g (14 oz) tinned black beans, rinsed and drained
  •     1 brown onion, chopped
  •     1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •     1 teaspoon ground cumin
  •     1 teaspoon ground coriander
  •     1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  •     1/2 chilli, chopped
  •     2 tablespoons cold-pressed
  •     extra virgin olive oil
  •     sea salt and freshly ground
  •     black pepper, to taste

Lemon and Garlic Aioli

Ingredients: 

  •     2 egg yolks
  •     4 large garlic cloves, crushed
  •     1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus extra as needed
  •     1 tablespoon water
  •     310 ml (103/4 fl oz/ 1 1/4 cups) light olive oil
  •     sea salt, as needed

Method:

  1. To make the aioli, beat the egg yolks and garlic in a small bowl with a wooden spoon.
  2. Add the lemon juice and water and keep beating. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, beating continuously, until the mixture has the desired consistency. 
  3. Add more lemon juice and sea salt to taste if needed. (Alternatively, prepare in a food processor.) 

The aioli will keep in a sterilised, tightly sealed jar in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Once the aioli is made, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and lightly grease a baking tray.

To make the patties

  1. Pulse the sunflower seeds and pepitas in a food processor until coarsely chopped. 
  2. Add the carrot and pulse for 10 seconds. 
  3. Add three-quarters of the black beans, the onion, spices, chilli, olive oil, salt and pepper, then pulse again for 10 seconds. Stir the remaining beans into the mixture. 
  4. Using your hands, shape portions of the mixture into four small patties and place them on the prepared baking tray. 
  5. Bake for 20 minutes. 
  6. Meanwhile, make a marinade for the mushrooms by mixing the coconut aminos, coconut sugar and vinegar in a small bowl until the sugar has dissolved.
  7. Put the mushrooms in a large frying pan, generously spoon over the marinade, then place over medium heat until cooked through.

To assemble the burgers, place one mushroom on each plate, lay a black bean patty on top, then add the rocket, slices of onion, tomato and cucumber, and top with the aioli.

SUPERCHARGED TIP

If you prefer not to eat eggs, try this version of the aioli.

Egg-Free Lemon and Garlic Aioli

Ingredients:

  • 80 g (23/4 oz/1/2 cup) raw cashews, soaked in filtered water for 2 hours
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • pinch of sea salt
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon filtered water 

Method: 

  1. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until creamy. This keeps for 4–5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

Why not give this recipe a try and let me know what you think on my Instagram page @leesupercharged or down below 🙂

Lee

The Gut: Can the Food You Eat Affect Your Mental Health?

No matter who you are, you eat food. Every human needs to eat food to survive. But, what we eat varies greatly between individuals. 

While we often think of the foods we eat as having implications on our physical health, it is not often that we consider the mental health ramifications of consuming certain foods. 

The study of food choices on mental health has developed into a new subspecialty of psychiatry, called nutrition psychiatry

Various mental health disorders - anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, depression, etc. - have become much more commonplace in society. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, states that around 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with some kind of mental health disorder at one point in their lives. 

In fact, mental illness is the third most common cause for hospital admission in the United States among adults aged 18 to 44. 

The high rate of mental disorder diagnoses, when considered in conjunction with poor diet in the United States, caused scientists to postulate that there is some sort of connection between diet and mental health. 

Exploring the Relationship Between Food and Mental Health

Over the past ten years, there has been much research conducted regarding the link between food choice and mental wellbeing. 

Studies have shown that the risk for depression in teens increases dramatically when a low quality diet is consumed compared to a high quality, whole food diet. 

Additionally, the risk of acquiring ADD (a term used to describe what is now known officially as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD) doubles for teens when consuming a low quality diet. 

Why does diet matter so much?

Most contemporary research studies have focused on the interrelatedness of diet and mood disorders (depression, anxiety, etc.). 

To this day, there has not been any direct evidence linking any particular diet with mental health. 

But, scientists are working hard to find this link. Even without a direct, proven link, it’s clear that a balanced diet can be beneficial for both mental and physical health overall.

As of now, scientists and physicians are aware that consuming a healthy diet positively impacts the brain in the following ways:

  • Aids in brain development so that you may cognitively function in a normal manner. 
  • Increases production of neurotransmitters by altering brain proteins/enzymes. Neurotransmitters are chemical signals that make connections between nerve cells.
  • Promotes healthy gut bacteria. This decreases inflammation, which can affect mood and cognition. 
  • Elevates serotonin, which contributes to a good mood. 

While diets consisting of rich and diverse nutrients can change brain proteins that lead to improvements in brain cell connectivity, diets consisting of large amounts of saturated fat and sugars cause the opposite effect. 

These poor diets can be destructive for brain proteins and lead to poor cognitive functioning. Also, high sugar and high fat diets tend to destroy healthy gut bacteria, which can decrease the body’s ability to prevent severe inflammation. 

How to Improve Your Diet    

If you would like to eat healthily to promote good brain health, and mental health by extension, there are certain foods you might want include in your diet. 

The following nutrients can be added into your diet whenever possible:

  • Omega 3s. These can improve mood, improve memory, and improve cognition.
  • Zinc. Too little zinc has been linked to depression.
  • Vitamin B12. Low B12 levels increase risk for cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and brain atrophy.
  • Iron. Anemia (too few healthy red blood cells) caused by iron deficiency contributes to depression.
  • Vitamin C. Low Vitamin C intake in older adults is associated with depression.
  • Fulvic Humic Concentrate. Re mineralises the body, energises and improves leaky gut.

Takeaway: Diet and Mental Health are Linked

Choosing to eat foods - such as whole grains, vegetables with colour, beans, fruit, and fish - that are dense in nutrients will promote physical and mental health by giving your body the fuel it needs to function at its best.

Eating well helps your brain operate at its best, in particular, and has the potential to improve your mood, energy levels, patience, and willingness to participate in activities.

All of these factors combined with the confidence that comes with taking good care of yourself can help you live as happy and as full of a life as possible.

A Healthy home + How to Prepare Your Crawl Space Against Harmful Moisture and Odors

When it comes to a healthy home and keeping it dry and clean, it’s important to pay attention to all of the areas including storage areas and crawl spaces.

You may choose encapsulation to prevent moisture problems in your crawl space. Even in a new home, problems can occur in the crawl space. Humidity in some environments can contribute to moisture buildup, for example. When you choose encapsulation, you must have the space prepared properly, or moisture can become trapped inside, damaging your home. A professional may spend time pumping out water and dehumidifying a crawl space before applying the plastic sheeting. Electrical wires and pipes must also get checked before encapsulation. It's always a good idea to hire a reputable company to make sure your crawl space gets clean and dry before sealing it off with encapsulation. 

Dehumidify

A dehumidifier can help remove moisture from the air in your main living area, basement, or crawl space. You may need to keep a dehumidifier in your crawl space even after you have it encapsulated. Humidity in your crawl space can also cause humidity in your home. This change can lead to an uncomfortable temperature and high electric bills. Since high humidity signifies moisture in the environment, have a thorough inspection to discover the source of high humidity in your crawl space. 

Drain Water Out

If you have standing water in your crawl space, you may have a foundation problem. Standing water can lead to mould, rot, and pests.  You may need crawl space repairs in Winston Salem before you can move forward with the encapsulation. You may also need a foundation repair to prevent water damage to your home and property. If water remains persistent in the crawl space, have a plumber check the pipes for leaks. The crawl space must remain dry to proceed with encapsulation. 

Electricity and Plumbing

You may have electrical wiring and pipes in your crawl space. Your crawl space must remain safe and dry for the encapsulation to happen. After the inspection you should get notified of any loose wiring or broken pipes. Get these repaired before moving forward with the encapsulation. If your crawl space has water in it, have a professional dry it out quickly. Electricity and water in the same area can become a dangerous situation. You may need extensive electrical repairs, as well. 

Clean It Up

Plenty of debris can settle in the crawl space. It can save a lot of time to encapsulate the crawl space when you first build the home. This way pests and debris do not have a chance to take hold of the area. 

You can enjoy a cleaner and safer crawl space by having an encapsulation. This upgrade can also raise the value of your home. Hire a reputable basement or crawl space expert to help you prepare the space. You may also need help with electrical, plumbing, or foundation repairs. If your crawl space has water damage, take the time to have it dried out and restored properly before encapsulation. With proper preparation and repairs, you can enjoy a clean, dry crawl space for many years. 

The link between gut health and mental health. It’s a thing!

It’s honesty time.

  • Have you ever gone to the bathroom a few too many times before a big meeting, presentation or exam?
  • Do some situations make you feel like butterflies (read: eagles) are floating around in your stomach?
  • Can you think of an experience where you felt your stomach drop?

If you’ve nodded your head in agreeance to any of the above scenarios, you’ve experienced the impact of the gut and brain connection.  

The what? 

Let me explain.

We know that the brain is responsible for the interactions we have with the external world, enabling us to see, feel, hear and smell. Our gut, however, governs the way we interact internally, specifically the way we digest, absorb and utilise nutrients. The gut and brain mirror and influence each other every single day.1

Let’s take a deeper deep into this intricate connection. 

How does our gut affect our brain?

If you’re new here and not used to talking all things gutsy (hi!), here’s a bit of a breakdown: 

The gut microbiome represents the hundreds of trillions of bacteria that make up our intestines. These microorganisms protect our gut from foreign invaders and have close contact with the body's primary information-gathering spaces, including the immune, endocrine and nervous system.1 Emerging research indicates that the gut can positively or negatively influence these areas depending on its balance of bacteria. 

You can also read my Gut Health 101 here

The gut-brain axis

There’s a bidirectional communication link between the gut microbiota and brain, known as the gut-brain-axis.This means when the gut is in balance, we’re more likely to feel calm and positive. Conversely, an inflamed gut is linked to several mental illnesses, including anxiety and depression.1

Interestingly, some research demonstrates that having certain microbes in the gut can affect the brain's structure and function.1

So, we are what we eat, but, perhaps more importantly, we are what we digest and absorb.  

How does the brain affect our gut? 

Imagine you’re feeling upset about a particular situation (I’m looking at you, men on Married at First Sight). This sadness travels to the gut and causes an uncomfortable symptom, such as abdominal pain. 

But how?

Well, neurons, the cells found within the brain and central nervous system, tell the body how to behave. And while we have over 100 billion neurons in the brain, the gut contains around 500 million neurons, which is pretty astounding when you think about it!1

So, the brain and gut communicate through neurons via the vagus nerve.1 If you’re unfamiliar with the vagus nerve, think of it as the body's LinkedIn – it connects and sends messages from the gut to the brain and vice versa. Whatever is going on in the emotional part of the brain causes a reaction in the gut through the vagus nerve.

The gut and brain are also connected through chemicals called neurotransmitters. The brain produces neurotransmitters that create different feelings and emotions, which we now know can cause several gastrointestinal symptoms. Many neurotransmitters are made in the gut – including gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which controls feelings of anxiety and fear.1

It’s critical to look after the gut and the brain for stabilised moods and minimal gastrointestinal upset.

How can we support the gut and the brain?

For optimal communication between the gut and the brain, we need the brain to feel safe and the gut to be balanced. Some of the ways I recommend helping them include:

  • Look at your diet: Emerging research says that a healthy diet – one rich in vegetables, fruit, lean protein and healthy fats – can improve our gut and, therefore, the state of our mental health.2 This research consistently shows us that a more diverse gut is linked to better health, so eat various plant foods each week. The fibrous and antioxidant-rich nature of plant foods helps promote the beneficial gut bacteria we need. I recommend aiming for five to seven servings of vegetables daily. 

  • Become a pro of the biotic: Probiotics have the potential to restore microbial balance and improve mental health. A 2017 research study assessed the impact probiotics have on chronic stress. They found those who took probiotics had an overall happier mood, improved energy and were more clear-headed with less anxiety and depression than those who didn’t.3 I recommend including probiotic-rich fermented foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut and kefir. You can also support your gut health by introducing Fulvic Humic Concentrate into your life; it goes beyond probiotic supplementation by strengthening the gut lining’s integrity and tightening its junctions whilst acting as a prebiotic and replenishing the gut microbiota.  

  • Manage your stress: Even if you’re eating the healthiest foods and eating probiotics on the reg, if you’re experiencing stress daily, you’re sabotaging your gut. I recommend incorporating relaxation techniques and mindfulness-based stressed reduction activities into your routine. As I’ve said before, Vedic meditation changed my life, but you may want to try other ways to manage your stress, or bring about more self love at Kegglers.

  • Watch out for diet negativity: A diet laden with sugar and processed foods harm the gut barrier and increase its leakiness, causing energy shifts and mood changes.2 The more we eat these foods, the more we displace the healthy foods our gut and mind love. I recommend limiting your intake of refined sugar, alcohol, gluten and processed foods. Instead, fill your plate with gut-nourishing foods. 

  • What can you tidy up? A little like Marie Kondo, tidying up my space helps bring me to a state of calm. To tidy up internally, I choose to use Love Your Gut and Golden Gut Blend; they help sweep away the internal cobwebs to make way for improved nutrient absorption and more energy. 

I’d love to know; how will you look after your body’s most important connection – your gut and brain?

Please let me know in the comments below.

Lee x 

Research

Wang, H. X., & Wang, Y. P. (2016). Gut Microbiota-brain Axis. Chinese medical journal, 129(19), 2373–2380. https://doi.org/10.4103/0366-6999.190667

Turnbaugh, P. J., Ridaura, V. K., Faith, J. J., Rey, F. E., Knight, R., & Gordon, J. I. (2009). The effect of diet on the human gut microbiome: a metagenomic analysis in humanized gnotobiotic mice. Science translational medicine, 1(6), 6ra14. https://doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.3000322

3 Clapp, M., Aurora, N., Herrera, L., Bhatia, M., Wilen, E., & Wakefield, S. (2017). Gut microbiota's effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis. Clinics and practice, 7(4), 987. https://doi.org/10.4081/cp.2017.987

5 Creative Ways to Infuse CBD with Food in Your Diet

CBD or Cannabidiol has created a buzz in the wellness and health market over the past few years. People across the globe have been in search of naturally occurring remedies for their health ailments.

CBD has been able to fill that gap and be an excellent alternative to help treat physical and psychological disorders. While CBD is associated with marijuana, people often get confused and refrain from considering CBD. But CBD is one of the 113 compounds present in the Cannabis plant that does not contain any psychoactive properties. CBD has shown its effectiveness by offering a variety of potential benefits which are proving to be a very positive effect on your health.

Due to the rise in popularity, companies have been manufacturing CBD products to meet demand. Today there are several methods available to consume CBD.  Some popular methods include, CBD oils, capsules, tinctures, creams, CBD infused drinks, and for people who prefer to smoke, vaping e-liquids.

Sublingual is most popular type of CBD products, however, they're not for everyone. Since it has an earthy, grassy, and bitter taste to it, first-timers may find it difficult to swallow. While there are several flavoured CBD products available in the market, they can help you consume CBD easily.

It's important to note that every CBD product differs in concentration, quality, and effectiveness. So if you are planning on trying it, ensure that your products are third-party tested and approved by your local authorities. Flavoured CBD eliminates the grassing, raw taste and enhances the taste. 

CBD-infused drinks such as coffees, teas,  and wines are starting to trend in the market. If CBD is widely accepted in your community, you'll probably find CBD products at baristas, restaurants, and even spas!

If you're someone who loves to cook, cooking with CBD can be an excellent option. You can use CBD to make your regular snacks and easy recipes. Try CBD-infused foods and add them to your daily routines as you travel, at work, or help you sleep at night. It also is an excellent option in introducing CBD into your family’s lives. 

CBD edibles are widely accepted by people as it allows them to enjoy their CBD products. These edibles have been modified into many versions and can be anything from candies to brownies. Another great benefit of CBD edibles is to allow first-time users to get use to the cannabinoid and notice any allergies or other changes related to it.

Just a reminder, CBD doesn't contain any psychoactive effects such as THC which gives you the feeling of getting high. If you are someone who prefers CBD edibles, here are a few creative ways to infuse CBD into your food to enhance the flavour.

CBD Gummies

The most popular CBD product is gummies. These come in different shapes and sizes which are fun to eat and portable. They are regular gummies infused with CBD and make it easy for children or adults to consume them without the grassy, bitter tastes of the oil. All you have to do is chew and swallow your CBD gummies and enjoy the benefits.

CBD Sugar-Free Gummies

For individuals who are refraining from sugar or have diabetes, there also numerous sugar-free versions of CBD gummies. With natural sweetening alternatives such as stevia, even those who can’t consume sugar can enjoy CBD gummies. 

CBD Salad Dressing 

A great way to enjoy your CBD oil and also eat healthily is by adding it to your salad as a dressing. For people who are interested in weight loss or they are fitness enthusiasts, all you need to do is add your CBD dressing to your salad. Your salad can be of any choice, and to create the dressing you can mix your CBD oil with your regular dressing. Ensure that you overdo it and add the right amount required. 

CBD Oil Chocolate Cookies

When you need a quick CBD snack, there's nothing that compares to making some CBD oil cookies. They are very easy to make and you can carry them with you wherever you go. If you're in search of an excellent method of consuming CBD this works, especially if you disagree with the taste. You can easily prepare CBD oil chocolate cookies which are delicious and one of the best snacks you can have. You can easily find recipes online or ready-made dough from the supermarket.

CBD Protein Bars

Proteins are a must for sports enthusiasts or fitness fanatics. These bars are equipped with all the necessary proteins and vitamins that can boost your body before or after your training sessions. As much as the standard protein bars are helpful, CBD-infused bars give an additional boost to your body and you will also receive the benefits of CBD.

These are just some of the ways that you can infuse CBD with your food which can help you relieve pain, reduce stress, treat inflammation and so much more.

If you want to know more about this excellent plant and its benefits, you can read more at leafnation.com.

New seafood reforms: An aim to improve Buying Process & Food Demand  

Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) are a type of private regulation that uses seafood distribution networks to decrease the ecological effects of fishing in some of the world's most vulnerable fisheries. 

Such FIPs are driven by business, while non-governmental organisations support others. They are used in both high- and low-income areas, and they cover a wide variety of fishery species at FishMart & other places. 

Their variety is noteworthy, as is their widespread distribution. FIPs are a central aspect of the international fisheries governance landscape, based on their rapid development.

NFI and FMI – The Food Industry Association have released new techniques to standardise and streamline the seafood purchasing process. The aim is to simplify and streamline the terminology and requirements for each fishery product to make it easier for distributors to comply with demands and fulfil them.

What are the standards that must be met?

According to the rule, the goods must be labeled appropriately, with proof of origin and the necessary health certificates, so you must check the labels and look for the certification, especially when buying the imported fish. 

Although there is a lot to remember, the following section will provide you with an outline of the most relevant considerations. Meeting all standards starts in your home country. Your government enforces these conditions by a relevant authority.

  1. Accreditation of the country and processing facilities is required.
  2. You must have the ability to make sure that the fish and seafood processed there follow food quality standards and do not pose a risk to yourself.

Growing the amount of food available from the sea in a sustainable manner

These reforms outline four significant pathways for increasing food supply from the ocean: 

  1. bettering wild fisheries management; 
  2. introducing marine policy reforms periodically; 
  3. developing feed technology for feeding mariculture; and
  4. changing demand, which influences the quantity supplied from all three development sectors.

Sustainable Growth- Forecast 

Overexploited populations can be rebuilt by fisheries management, which can improve long-term food production from marine stocks. While wild fisheries production is nearing limits, mariculture output is well below them and can be enhanced by policy changes, technical advances, and increasing supply.

This will necessitate widening current opportunities for underutilized stocks. This will require the adoption or improvement of management practices that discourage overfishing and encourage declining stocks to regenerate in overfished markets.

Wrapping Up 

Global food consumption is on the rise, and soil supply is rife with questions about the atmosphere and health. Seafood is nutritious, rich and removes or reduces terrestrial food production's environmental impact and is exceptional in contributing to food supply and future global food and nutrition sustainability. 

The forecast of sustainable food production indicates significant prospects for the potential expansion of wild and marine fishing. The capacity for improved global wild fish productivity depends on the maintenance of fish stocks close to their most viable levels.

By avoiding and eliminating environmentally destructive mariculture activities and allowing ecologically friendly growth, better policies and execution will increase the food supply.

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