Pure and Simple; Marrook Farm

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How it should be.
Nutritionist Lydia Irving interviews Heidi Falding of Marrook Farm.

Pure and simple, these are the words Heidi used to explain Marrook Farms’ ethos for yoghurt making. Made from the most pure of ingredients and simply delicious is how I interpreted that. David and Heidi’s Biodynamic yoghurt, cheese and kefir is incredibly pure and honest. However, after chatting to Heidi I’ve learnt the process is far from simple.

I had the absolute honour of interviewing Heidi about their fermented dairy products, how they came to be in Elands and the importance of biodynamics.

Marrook Farm is a Biodynamic Farm that is located on the Bulga Plateau on the edges of Elands. Heidi and David were attracted to the clean air, water and soil that is Elands. This year marks the 20th year of Heidi and David making the most delicious and nourishing fermented milk products such as yoghurt, kefir and cheeses. This year also brings for them a new processing factory that is located three metres from the dairy where the cows are milked. You can not get fresher milk than that!

As a nutritionist, it is not just what the foods are but more so where the food comes from that decides whether it is good for you or not. The nutritional difference between the milk from a cow fed grain and a cow fed grass is significant. The grain fed cows have more omega 6 fatty acids (which are inflammatory and are linked to heart disease) whereas grass fed cows milk contains more omega 3 fatty acids (which are anti-inflammatory and protect brain health).

The best way to consume dairy is fermented!
Yoghurt and kefir are both probiotic (good bacteria which supports digestive health) foods that are rich in diverse microbes. Cheese is less of a probiotic food but rather a very tasty and more digestible way of eating dairy (meaning the nutrients in cheese can be unlocked by the digestive tract).

What is Biodynamic?
This is about making milk products from the ground up, literally, as I will soon explain. Marrook Farm is certified by the Australian Biodynamic Demeter Standard and adhering to this system  is the most fundamental part of what Heidi and David do on the farm. Biodynamic farmers work with nature and observe the natural environment closely, it says on their brand new website. When I asked Heidi more about it, I realised it is quite simple in theory but not simple in practice. Maintaining and enriching the health of the soil is the most essential aspect of biodynamic farming.


There are absolutely no shortcuts when it comes to the laboursome task of biodynamic farming. “What you put in you get out!” says Heidi in a tone that reveals years of experience and knowledge of the greater benefits. Giving nutrients and life to the soil because… healthy soil, healthy grass, healthy animals means healthy humans.


Taking a Holistic approach to making food products is the significant difference between simply organic foods and biodynamic food. A lot of Organic farming is not thinking “holistically”, as in healthy soil and upwards, but rather replaces conventional farming techniques with organic versions.

Fermentation

Yoghurt, cheese and kefir are all fermented foods. In modern Australia, fermented food is not a rich part of our cultural identity. In fact, when I teach fermentation classes, I often have to ask people to unlearn what they know about “cleanliness and sterility”.

Heidi remembers being exposed to fermented foods from a young age. Her mother was a “health food fanatic” and knew the health benefits of properly made yoghurt. However, having arrived in Sydney from Switzerland in the 1960s, her mother found it hard to buy real probiotic yoghurt. Heidi reminisced about how it was a big deal to journey all the way into the city of Sydney to get real yoghurt.

How is Marrook Farm’s yoghurt made?

Fresh full fat, biodynamic, unhomogenised milk is mixed in with yoghurt culture. This culture contains lots of good bacteria that feed off the milk converting it into a thick, sour (delicious) and longer lasting product.

Most of Marrook Farm’s yoghurts are pot set, which means the milk ferments in the jar forming the liquid on top, called Whey. This is what I encourage people to look for on labels as it often means it contains probiotics. The only yoghurt that is not pot set is their Greek Yoghurt which is hung up in a bag to let the liquid whey drip off. This is how they achieve such a delicious, creamy consistency. No added thickeners, emulsifiers, preservatives or sugars!

Differences between Supermarket Yoghurt and Marrook Farm Yoghurt?

A concern both Heidi and I share is that yoghurt is now associated with being sweet and coloured. However, that is just because of all the added sugar, flavouring and colouring. These non pure ingredients are a large concern to your health and wellbeing as a consumer.

Pure Ingredients

Did you know food companies don’t have to label everything that is in your food? Especially if the chemical or substance is added to aid manufacture such as “Anti foaming agents”.
This is something Heidi and David learnt when they had extra frothy milk and were advised to add anti foaming agents to assist this process. They of course, did not. At Marrook farm they label everything that is put into their products, which is just the culture and milk.


Furthermore, most of the yoghurt in the supermarket is re-pasteurised meaning all of the microbes are killed and the probiotic benefits of yoghurt are gone. This, in my opinion, defeats most of the purpose of eating yoghurt.

What is Dairy Kefir?
Thanks to the increasing awareness of gut health and the role of fermented food, a market has been created for David and Heidi to start making Kefir. The name “Kefir” is derived from the Turkish work to feel good. This is exactly how I feel when I’m consuming dairy kefir on a regular basis. Kefir contains three times more probiotic species than yoghurt which means it has a lot of health benefits. Food really can be medicine!

 

Marrook Farm Products

Of all the dairy products that they make “kefir and yoghurt are for daily consumption. Whereas cheeses are more a delicacy food” says Heidi. There is a full list on the Marrook Farm website, (which is looking very snazzy if I may say so). Their products are currently sold all over Australia and in the local area can be found at Granty’s Fruit and Veg in Wingham, Taree Go Vita and Hallidays Point Foodworks.

On living in the Manning.

“It’s the beauty that holds us here” Heidi shares fondly of the Bulga Plateau. They initially arrived in Elands having come from the upper hunter where the pollution from the mining was impacting the quality of their environment. The search of clean water, air and soil to build a biodynamic farm on that continues to nourish the soil led them to Elands.

The natural beauty of the Manning Valley and its surrounds is something I am sure we can all agree on. Therefore encouraging more farmers to support and enhance the perfect processes of nature, will ensure optimal health of the Mannings environment and inhabitants.
As a nutritionist I understand the nutritional importance of consuming “local’ produce first and foremost, that is ideally biodynamic or organic. Supporting local farmers who look after the environment is great for the local area as well as the health of our community. So it is win win. We support local farms like Marrook and they continue to produce products that support our gut.

Oh and I must mention, thanks to my sister coincidently walking in with a jar of Marook Farm Golden Kefir (I have taught her well), I am fortunate enough to be enjoying some liquid gold, fresh from Marook Farm, as I write this. Thank you Marrook Farm for continuing to make such delicious and nourishing products. Love your guts!
 

For more information www.marrookfarm.com.au

A Guide to Good Digestion Part 4: The Small Intestine

The Small Intestine

Here we are at the small intestine, in the fourth instalment of my Guide to Good Digestion. Parts One to Three of our journey down the digestive tract are available on my website if you need to catch up (www.internal-instinct.com). By this stage of the digestive process, the mouth, stomach, liver, gallbladder and pancreas have broken down macronutrient (proteins, fats and fibres) food bits into micronutrients. Now it’s time for those useful micronutrients to be absorbed into the blood and all travel around the body and help keep us healthy and fuelled! This absorption mostly occurs in the small intestine, just after leaving the stomach.

What is the Small Intestine?

The small intestine is like a giant snake in our abdomen: it’s a long tube which wiggles through the abdomen from the end of the stomach to the large intestine in the lower right hand side of the belly. The small intestine snakes around the midsection of your belly, folding over and around itself dozens of times, and is often the visual that appears in horror movies as ‘guts’. It is easily the longest section of the digestive tract, with some individuals having a small intestine measuring three metres long and some having up to ten metres. I like to think that because I am 188cm tall (6 ft 2, for you imperial folk) that my small intestine is longer than yours! However, that’s just my competitive nature showing and honestly I have no idea if that is true.


The top section of the small intestine is called the duodenum, the middle section is the jejunum and the last section before reaching the large intestine is called the ileum. In the duodenum, some more enzymatic digestion (macronutrients being turned into useful micronutrients) happens (still!) with the help of the liver, gallbladder and pancreas. The jejunum and ileum are where we absorb most nutrients into the bloodstream.


In this article I’ll explore the workings of the small intestine, explain what bloating is and reveal the real cause of a rumbling tummy.

As I mentioned earlier, the small intestine is where our micronutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. The small intestine is lined with finger-like projections called villi which are covered in even smaller finger-like projections called (ingeniously) microvilli. This design increases the surface area of the inside of the small intestine, maximising absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream. The villi also create a wave of motion, gently pushing the contents further down the digestive tract.


As well as the villi, the wall of the small intestine is called the mucosa and is made up of cells called simple columnar epithelium (don’t worry about the name - there won’t be a quiz at the end!). These cells are held together by proteins called desmosomes, which link together the simple columnar epithelium into an impenetrable chain fence. The walls of the small intestine are incredibly important, since they help to keep undigested particles or bacteria from entering the bloodstream and hurting our wellbeing.

Unfortunately, the foods and lifestyles we are currently exposed to are damaging this delicate lining of the small intestine. A modern western diet may be high in flavour but lacks in digestibility, meaning it’s extremely difficult for our body to digest these foods. For example, the protein gluten found in some grains often causes digestive issues because it cannot be broken down by the human digestive tract alone. It needs to be broken down outside the body by a process of fermentation (such as in sourdough bread) first. When we over-consume a range of products that are difficult to digest (like non-fermented gluten), this damages villi and creates holes in the walls of the small intestine by breaking apart the desmosomes holding the cells together.

I will talk more about gluten and digestion in a moment but first, let’s recap what we’ve learned so far. The lining of the small intestine is made of bumpy projections called villi which maximise nutrient absorption and move the contents inside the small intestine further down. Villi and the walls of the small intestine need to be held tightly together (just like the skin on the outside of our body) so nothing foreign enters the bloodstream. Gluten and other hard-to-digest foods can damage the physical lining of the digestive tract.

Why is gluten bad?

So what really is the problem with gluten? Why does it make so many people unwell?

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Humans have no enzyme to break gluten down. Remember, we have specific enzymes capable of breaking down specific foods. Enzymes convert food into micronutrients ready for absorption. For a deeper explanation of enzymes, refresh yourself with my previous articles.

Now, because we have no specific enzyme that can effectively break down gluten, it makes its way into the small intestine undigested. Gluten influences the body to release a chemical called Zonulin. Zonulin, basically, breaks down the desmosomes (proteins holding the cells together) in the body, starting with the small intestine and eventually making its way to the rest of the body. This is what we call ‘leaky gut’ or intestinal hyperpermeability. This means that all the contents of your stomach can enter the bloodstream, whether or not they’re ready for absorption.

When undigested foods enter the bloodstream, it triggers an immune response. This immune response - called food intolerance - is an attempt to remove undigested foodstuffs out of the bloodstream to protect the body. Unlike an allergy, which causes an immediate reaction like anaphylaxis, a food intolerance is a protracted and accumulative immune response. The intensity of the immune response, and the signs and symptoms are unique to every individual, but a common condition is inflammation. This can vary from physical pain to autoimmune conditions to skin flare ups, and everything in between. Food intolerances are often not taken as seriously as they should be, because they can often contribute to chronic pain or illnesses if not addressed. Helping clients to understand and manage their individual food intolerances is one of the most common things I do in nutritional consultations, and it can have an amazing impact on your wellbeing.

One quick note before we move on, don’t feel the need to suddenly cut out all gluten after reading this! Gluten-free products aren’t necessarily a ‘healthier’ alternative for everyone, since all grains have the capacity to upset the health of the gut - especially if your gluten-free replacement is highly processed. So instead of running away from gluten today, the best option is to start researching how to prepare food for easier digestion (like eating sourdough bread, where the gluten is fermented into a form capable of digestion).

Bloated?!

Our small intestine is home to about 1000 recorded species of microbes (bacteria, fungi, yeasts and parasites). It might seem like a lot, but in next month’s article on the large intestine, I’ll explain why 1000 species is actually a really small number.

When undigested bits of food make their way into the small intestine (this happens when the previous stages of digestion are compromised, or when eating foods we cannot digest ie. gluten) the food feeds a range of microbes we don’t want thriving in our small intestine. The result is an overabundance of unhealthy bacteria, known as Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). These bacteria feed off sugar in the food and create gas that builds up and distends the gut (and makes you burp and fart more).

This process is identical to fermentation that occurs outside of the body - like brewing beer. To make beer ‘fizzy’, you add sugar (in malt) to feed the microbes inside. When this process is contained inside a bottle or fermentation vat, the pressure builds and the container can become explosive - like some people we know!

This is not the only cause of bloating but is a very common one. Other causes of bloating may be severely inflamed organs in the abdomen, a buildup of fluid or excessive fat stored around internal organs. These are all much more severe causes of bloating and require further investigations.

Talking Tummy

Have you ever wondered what that gurgling rumbling sound in your tummy is? It’s often thought to be the gut telling you that you’re hungry, which is half true. More accurately, it means your small intestine is completely empty of stomach contents. When this happens, normally around three hours after a big meal, a wonderful fluid called chyme (pronounced kyme) cleans our small intestine to keep it healthy. The chyme (which is acidic and made of gastric juices) gushes down our small intestine, sweeping up any residual food bits left behind in the crevices of the villi. It’s the chyme fluid rushing through your small intestine that makes the rumbling in your tummy!

This cleaning process also stops bacteria or microbes from getting out of control, preventing the Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth I mentioned before. So, be thankful for that tummy gurgle, because it’s a sign your gut is cleaning itself to keep you healthy. And if you want to take better care of your guts, extending the gaps between meals (instead of continually snacking) allows your small intestine to empty and invites chyme to clean it.

We have covered only a few neat features of the small intestine here in this article.

The main takeaways from this article:

  • The small intestine has a large surface area to absorb adequately prepared nutrients into the bloodstream.

  • Gluten damages the walls of the intestine and causes “leaky gut” which leads to food intolerances and chronic inflammatory diseases.

  • Too many of the wrong microbes in the small intestine cause bloating and discomfort in the belly.

  • When your tummy is rumbling this means it’s being cleaned.



We’ll learn a whole lot more about the special microbes that inhabit the digestive tract in my next article: The Large Intestine. See you then!

Lydia x.



A Guide to Good Digestion Part 3: The Liver, Gallbladder and Pancrease

A Guide to Good Digestion.

Part 3: The Liver, Gallbladder and Pancreas.

Welcome to my third instalment of A Guide to Good Digestion. In the first instalment, I wrote about the role that the mouth plays in effective digestion, and the importance of chewing. In the second article I wrote about the role of the stomach, and the importance of having strong hydrochloric acid in your stomach. 

So let’s get right into it: the Liver, Gallbladder and Pancreas. These three organs collaborate just after the stomach at the top of the small intestine to break down macronutrients and activate micronutrients. Don’t worry, I’ll explain what that means soon! To break down the partially digested food that has made it all the way to the liver, gallbladder and pancreas, these three organs all use chemical digestive processes. Quick recap: chemical digestion includes acids and enzymes breaking down food into nutrients, and mechanical digestion includes chewing, and stomach muscles mashing foods into effectively digestible forms. So the liver, gallbladder and pancreas all work together to chemically digest food into small, absorbable nutrients.

Now, a quick explainer on macro- and micro-nutrients. Macronutrients are just clusters of micronutrients strung together. There are three macronutrients: Lipids, Carbohydrates and Proteins. Lipids are made of fatty acids, carbohydrates are sugar molecules, and proteins are made of amino acids. The body needs the gut to break these macronutrients down into smaller micronutrient forms so that they can be absorbed into the blood.

So, summing up so far, we have three organs (liver, gallbladder, pancreas), that use enzymes to break down three macronutrients (fats/lipids, carbs, and proteins) into micronutrients which are absorbed into the blood.

Now, I’ll explain how these organs help activate these micronutrients and detoxify the byproducts.

Liver and Gallbladder

The liver is a huge triangular organ (weighing 1.5kg) which takes up most of the upper-right abdominal space. The liver is incredibly multi-functional and vital to our bodily function. Most people I talk to solely think of drug and alcohol consumption and the role the liver plays in detoxing these from the body. However, the liver does so much more! In particular, the liver plays a huge role in digesting and absorbing nutrients into the bloodstream.

The liver interacts with macronutrients in many different ways.

Firstly; it converts some macronutrients into micronutrients ready to be absorbed into the bloodstream. If it can’t convert them directly, it helps to prepare the macronutrients into forms digestible to the enzymes in the small intestine, so the small intestine can turn the macronutrients into micronutrients.

Secondly, the liver works as a filter for our blood, ensuring that the valuable nutrients enter our bloodstream while toxins are filtered out. After the macronutrients have been converted into micronutrients in the liver and small intestine, the small intestine pumps out newly micronutrient-rich blood into the bloodstream. This travels around the body, delivering these nutrients to target organs and nutrient receptors from head to toe. As blood passes through the liver on its way around the bloodstream, the liver performs the vital function of ensuring that useful micronutrients remain in the blood, while waste products are removed.

The liver filters nutrients into three categories: molecules to be absorbed, stored or detoxified. In the first category, the liver recycles (or absorbs) useful nutrients back into the blood to be used to nourish the body. Other substances are stored in the liver (that’s the second category) for the body to use only when needed in the future. Finally, the liver detoxifies a range of molecules which are toxic or not needed to nourish the body. These can be excess nutrients, hormones or byproducts of reactions that have occured around the body. In any case, the liver removes them from the blood, and helps them to exit the body via the bowel or as urine, sweat, or tears. Other toxic molecules such as heavy metals, plastics and excess sugar are stored as fat.

But I can’t talk about the role of the liver without including the gallbladder, because the liver and the gallbladder work in combination, forming a great team called the Hepatobiliary System. The gallbladder is tucked up inside the bottom of the liver and is infamous for housing painful gallstones. The gallbladder isn’t just home to these nasties, it also deserves credit for the role it plays in breaking down fats (remember fats are called lipids - one of the three macronutrients). The gallbladder is where bile is concentrated, stored and released into the small intestine. For those of you wondering, bile is a dark green fluid made by the liver. This acidic, green fluid is what breaks down the fats we eat, unlocking the good stuff! I’ll explain in a little more detail in soon!

So to recap, the liver is busy and has it’s trusty gallbladder there to assist it. It activates nutrients to allow the gut to digest and absorb them into the bloodstream. It also filters blood to absorb, store or detox certain components of the blood. The gallbladder is a storage and release site for bile.

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The Pancreas

The pancreas contains a liquid or “pancreatic juice” made up of digestive enzymes, including pancreatic amylase, trypsin and so on. The pancreas is located just across the road (small intestine) from the liver, and beneath the stomach. It is bumpy and elongated in shape and often pictured as green in text books, although in real life it’s not so brightly coloured! The pancreas usually gets a lot of attention in the media for the role it plays in diabetes, because it releases insulin which is needed for glucose (sugar) to enter inside cells. However, 90% of the role of the pancreas is making that “pancreatic juice” to digest fats and proteins (don’t forget, most of the carbohydrates are digested and absorbed before even making it to the small intestine). The pancreas combines with bile from the gallbladder to effectively snip nutrient chains. Teamwork!
 

Now that we’ve figured out the role of those three great organs (the liver, gallbladder and pancreas) let’s take a bit more of a look at the process of digesting the three macronutrients we mentioned before: fats, carbs, and proteins.

Fats (Lipids)

The gallbladder releases stored bile, made in the liver, to prepare fats to be transported in the blood. To put it simply, bile does not digest fats but rather emulsifies fats so they then can be digested by enzymes in the small intestine. The liver allows fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A, D and E to be absorbed into the bloodstream. These vitamins are great for supporting the body’s immune system!  

Sugars (carbohydrates)

The main aim here is to turn sugar molecules into glucose, then to convert glucose into glycogen which can be used for energy. The liver metabolises carbohydrates through a process called gluconeogenesis. Now that’s one for your spelling list! This process entails breaking down long/complex sugars such as fructose and galactose into a small and simple sugar called glucose.

Protein

The gallbladder and liver alter the shape of protein molecules (a process called denaturation) to then send to the pancreas so it can finish the job of releasing those amino acids. Proteins need to be broken down into amino acids for the body to be able to use them. During the process of this breakdown ammonia is made, this is a toxic byproduct. The liver protects the blood from ammonia by either detoxing it out of the body or storing it in fat cells. In short, the liver makes protein digestion easier on the pancreas and less toxic for the body.
 

Now that our accessory organs have digested, absorbed and detoxified all the macronutrients we just ate, our body can get on with it’s natural functions. Using fatty acids, sugars and amino acids to build our physical form, release chemicals to make us happy and calm and support our metabolic processes throughout our entire body.

I hope you have made your way safely down past your “accessory organs”. See you next time for a journey into your small intestine.

Lydia Irving is a practicing nutritionist (BHsC) who consults clients in Forster and Taree. Through her business, Internal Instinct, Lydia also offers personalised supplement formulas, and sourdough and fermentation workshops. Lydia specialises in helping clients to understand their health concerns and looks for underlying causes of disease rather than just treating symptoms. For more information and enquiries, contact.

For Forster consultations Lydia is located at Forster Yoga Studio, Forster Towers, Level 1

10-12 Wallis Street, Forster

For consultation enquiries in Taree

Lydia Practices out of Spectrum Natural Family Health Care in Taree on Monday afternoons.
02 6550 1223


 

A Guide to Good Digestion. Part 2: The Stomach

A Guide to Good Digestion

Part 2: The Stomach

Welcome to the second part of my introductory guide to digestion. I hope you enjoyed Part One, I talked us through the beginning processes of digestion, everything to do with the mouth and the important role of saliva and chewing. If you missed it, catch up on my website or in the the previous Community Paper.

So, what happens next? After the mouth, food heads down to the stomach. The stomach is an organ located in the upper left of your abdominal area, protected by the bottom of your rib cage and below your left lung. The stomach is shaped like a rounded sack, and fits neatly between your oesophagus and duodenum.

Put simply, the stomach stores food and continues the process of converting food into chains of absorbable nutrients. Just like the mouth, it continues breaking down food through both mechanical and chemical breakdown processes.

Mechanical


While chewing is a pretty straightforward process, as teeth grind food into smaller parts, the stomach has a more complex mechanical method of breaking down food. The outer lining of the stomach comprises a series of muscles, known as bundle muscles, which are capable of contracting in multiple directions and angles. These contractions turn the stomach into a sort of washing machine, where food is tossed around the stomach from wall to wall. As the food gets thrown about, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, ready for eventual entry into the small intestine. 

As food needs to be totally broken down by this process, the stomach has to hold the food for one or two hours while the process happens, which it does with the help of some chemicals I’ll discuss in a moment! The inner lining of the stomach helps with this, because wrinkled folds called rugae are capable of stretching the stomach into a size large enough to hold and move around all the food.

What not to do. 

What not to do. 

Chemical

Your stomach is one of the scariest organs in the body because it contains some extremely powerful chemicals. If you think of the stomach as a ‘hot pot’, it would be something of a horror-movie-esque-death-acid-cooking-pot. If you dipped your hand inside that pot of chemicals, you would quickly be eaten by acids right through to the bone. Luckily, the rest of the body is protected from the powerful chemicals inside by a thick protective lining on the inside of the stomach. What a relief! 

The reason that the stomach contains such strong chemicals is that it has to break down all of the foods we eat before they reach the delicate small intestine, from thick steaks to fibers. To do this, the stomach is strongly acidic, with a pH ranging between 1.3-3.5. Where 7 is neutral and anything higher than 7 is basic or alkaline. The acid in the stomach is Hydrochloric Acid. 

To maintain a healthy digestive system, we should aim to keep our stomach very acidic, so the hydrochloric acid is strong and capable of breaking down foods before they reach the small intestine. If we fail to do this, pathogens can enter the small intestine, damaging the organ and stopping the body from absorbing vital nutrients. 

Another crucial reason to take care of stomach acidity levels is to control acid reflux. At the top of the stomach is a sphincter that opens up to the oesophagus. It’s ingeniously called the oesophageal! When the stomach is strongly acidic meaning a pH level of 1-2, it indicates to the sphincter to close off the pathway between the stomach and oesophagus. If our stomach isn’t acidic enough, or that ‘hot pot’ isn’t burning strongly enough, then the sphincter can remain open, allowing the contents of the stomach (food and acid) to enter the oesophagus. This causes the horrible sensation of acid reflux, which is actually the acid from the stomach burning the oesophagus. Ouch!

Sadly, most treatments for acid reflux like anti-acids or protein pump inhibitors don’t actually help the stomach to return to a pH of 1-2. They do the opposite, blocking the acid from being released into the stomach.  Consequently there is less acid to rise up and burn the oesophagus which is good for avoiding the pain. It is not so good for training that sphincter to shut and supporting the chemical breaking down of food. So don’t just reach for those medications to treat reflux, but investigate why you have reflux, and work on a nutritional plan to keep the stomach acidic strong!

To sum up so far: our stomach is a stretchy washing machine full of strong acid, which breaks down food over an hour or two. If the stomach isn’t acidic enough, we can get acid reflux. 

Enzymes

Another crucial chemical process to break food down happens through digestive enzymes. There are many different enzymes in the stomach and throughout the whole digestive tract. They have unique skills and specific roles! Typically, enzymes in the stomach help to convert foods into nutrient chains, such as amino acid chains or fatty acid chains. An example of this is one of the most important enzymes in the stomach is pepsinogen, which breaks down protein. Another example is called intrinsic factor, which helps to unlock B12 vitamins within food. 

Enzymes are produced in the lining of the digestive tract, and we can stimulate their production by eating specific foods. With a varied and healthy diet, we will produce a wide range of enzymes which can ensure that we are getting the most out of our food! However, if our diet isn’t varied enough, then production of specific enzymes will slow down. 

Equally, if we eat too much of a specific food, then the particular enzymes required to break down that food can struggle to keep up which can cause further problems. One example of this is lactose which is the type of sugar found in dairy products. In order to break down lactose, our bodies require the enzyme lactase, which many of us don’t produce enough of! 

We call this problem of not having the enzyme required to break down a specific food an intolerance. Some of the symptoms caused by having insufficient digestive enzymes include bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea. If left untreated, food intolerances can cause a whole range of serious health concerns, from migraines to joint pain and eczema! These may be a result of undigested foods reaching the small intestine.

The good news is that there is highly specialised testing available for intolerances, which can test up to 350 different foods to figure out exactly what you’re intolerant to! With an effective, healthy nutrition plan, taking care of our stomach acid and enzymes, we can help our digestive system to function optimally. Keeping our digestive system in balance is essential to supporting a healthier life! 

I’ll be back soon with my next article, where we’ll follow the digestive journey into the liver, gallbladder and pancreas… See you soon!

Lydia Irving is a qualified Nutritionist Lydia Irving is a practicing nutritionist (BHsC) who consults clients in Forster and Taree. Through her business, Internal Instinct, Lydia also offers personalised supplement formulas, and sourdough and fermentation workshops. Lydia specialises in helping clients to understand their health concerns and looks for underlying causes of disease rather than just treating symptoms. For more information and enquiries contact Lydia.

 

For consultation enquiries in Taree

Lydia Practices out of Spectrum Natural Family Health Care in Taree on Monday afternoons.
02 6550 1223

For Forster consultations Lydia is located at Forster Yoga Studio, Forster Towers, Level 1

10-12 Wallis Street, Forster

Is Bone Broth all it's cooked up to be?!

I have just spent the last three days listening to The Health Gut Experts Summit. There were seminars with 35 gut experts from around the world, such as Dr. Amy DayDr. Jason Hawrelak and Dr. Jill Carnahan. I noticed a common piece of advice which all these experts mentioned when asked about dietary inclusions to help heal the gut: bone broth!

This leads me to a question that was asked by one of my followers: "Is bone broth all it's cooked up to be?"

So let's delve into the pros and cons of this humble 'heal-all' food. 

Firstly, what is bone broth?

It is often referred to as bone (beef, chicken, fish) stock, and in days gone by was commonly used to add flavour to soups and stews! While the full nutritional benefits to the gut might have only been recently revealed, the value of bone stock was common knowledge. That's why people were fed chicken soup: because it contained real bone broth. It is made by roasting bones and then slow cooking them in water for 12 hours or longer. I personally prefer 24 hours, to really get all of the value out of the bones. To make sure that your bone broth is as healthy and healing as possible, make sure to add some apple cider vinegar to help leach the nutrients and minerals out of the bones into the liquid. Don't worry - I've got a recipe for you below!


Is bone broth any good for you?

Bone broth has strong healing properties and is highly nutritive. It helps to support other body systems like hormone production and skin health. It is high in collagen, glutamine and loads of minerals such as magnesium and potassium. Glutamine is one of the most abundant amino acids in the body and repairs the cells that line the gut (so bone broth can help with leaky gut). Collagen assists in repairing leaking gut, but also aids bone, joint and ligament repair in the body. If the animal is grass fed and organic, bone broth is a strong source of Omega 3 which is needed for brain health. So bone broth can be a great source of nutrition and gut healing! If you have been looking at bone broth to help heal the lining of your gastrointestinal tract, you should also try adding foods such as Gelatine (an isolated byproduct of bone broth), Aloe Vera, Turmeric, and Slippery Elm to your diet, since they have similar benefits in gut repair.
 

Now lets address the cons: Is it any good for the planet?

The way we typically farm animals for meat is destroying the planet. Mass produced meat means animals are fed nutrient-lacking food and are restricted from their natural environment. They're often fed lots of antibiotics and traces of heavy metals are regularly detected in meats on our supermarket shelves. I do not support this method of farming and want to spread awareness that is not a sustainable practice, nor healthy for human consumption! If you make bone broth from these animals you will be leaching all these toxins into the broth, rather than the valuable nutrients and amino acids you should be receiving. Also, if the animal is grain-fed and not grass-fed, it contains less Omega 3 fatty acids (the good one!) and more Omega 6, which is highly inflammatory when ingested. 
 

Whats the solution?

Unfortunately, I do not have a perfect solution to the meat consumption problem! But if you do wish to eat meat for health purposes, then bone broth is a better way to eat less and gain more healing benefits. So ask your local butchers and farmers for grass fed and free range beef. In particular, I feel that consuming animal bones that would otherwise be fed to dogs or thrown out is a way of reducing food waste and helping your gut. But please, don't just buy any old bones from the supermarket and make broth just because someone said it's good for your gut. And don't bother with pre-made mass-produced broth from the supermarket, since many of the health benefits in home-made broth are missing from these products. Remember to be aware of where your food has been living and growing before it ends up on your plate and in your gut. The same goes for vegetables, but that is a whole other blog post! 

 

Now about that recipe! I recommend Dr. Axe's wonderful bone broth recipe. Go on, try it!

Lydia xx

Maui September 2016

After California I jumped on a medium sized plane to Maui, Hawaii and immersed myself in deep, unbroken chat with the guy sitting next to me for entire flight. I was heading to Maui to meet most of the members of my family for a little reunion and most importantly, to turn 23. I spent a super chill 3 weeks there with my mumma and managed to see the whole island, more or less. Now as much as I would love this to be solely a travel blog where I reveal Maui from the perspective from a single, 23 year old, sarcastic female. I am on a mission, a mission all about NUTRITION. A NUTRITION MISSION!

With that grand statement being said... what is there to say about nutrition with regards to Maui? Well, it's certainly not the health capital of The World. Nor is it the health capital of America. What I mean by this is... every meal tastes as though the first ingredient in it is sugar. The dream of fresh coconuts and pineapples was not so very alive... although piña coladas were plentiful. Aaaaand my cousin did find a fresh coconut sold on the side of the road for around $10 or something. We all giggled at how fabulously ripped off he was.  

Now, don't get me wrong... the whole of Maui was not only Starbucks, sugar cane fields and beaches trashed by ginormous hotels. Despite it's tiny size, Maui provided pockets in “upcountry” where it was keeping the dream alive. A place where you could go out for breakfast and not be served thick white pancakes served with fake maple syrup and fake butter. I'm referring to Paia and surroundings, a gorgeous little oasis filled to the brim with cute shop fronts and much healthier platters of food. Homemade delights and farm to table produce were bountiful. I didn't spot a single food chain in this town. Small business owners and supporting local seemed to be written in the towns' allegiance. The greatest part was, everyone bought their supplies from a Grocery store NOT a supermarket !! Remember those days?! 

Maui taught me that, like the rest of the developing world we live in, there is a chasm between food-for-profit giants and grass-roots wholesome movements.  It would appear that food giants are taking over the world. But, when you visit a tiny island like Maui, you realise there is hope for us still. Because, despite being owned by the United States of Fast Money and Empty Food (made that up myself, clever huh!?!), this isolated archipelago in the North Pacific Ocean still manages to keep the wholesome food boat afloat. Hopefully the greater wisdom within people power will soon over-rule those who continue to make food that is detrimental to our health. Now if you have no idea how the food industry is detriment to literally everything WATCH this video, it will clarify my crazy talk and soon it will all make sense. In fact, just watch it regardless of where you stand. Michael Pollan is god! 

So, you've read this blog, you now feel enlightened and excited! What now? Well, if you are a human, I invite you to start educating yourself on what food is! Where it comes from and learn simple ways in which you can contribute to a grass-roots movement taking over the world! Most importantly, take back your power and take back your health!

This blog would be incomplete without me plugging myself, so here I am - a qualified nutritionist eager to educate and empower you on your path to health. Whether it be a workshop or one on one consultation, I am here for you (I'm also here for me... haha).  

UPCOMING WORKSHOP 31st May

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I am very exciting and preparing for my first workshop since being back in Australia! I learnt so much in Guatemala while working for Love Probiotics . Now I am back to share the fun and great word of GUT HEALTH & how to prepare food for optimal digestion. If you want to come along, shoot me an email and make a $15 deposit to save your seat. I only have limited spots available. 

Love Lydia x

HOME, LA & the damage of Food for Profit

So I promised blogs while I was away travelling Central America and... I did not deliver! Due to a long list of inadequate excuses I was unable to keep up with writing a Nutrition blog while sleeping in hammocks on the Island of Ometepe in Nicaragua. Nor did I find time to put pen to paper while fermenting literally every kind of food and beverage possible while living in San Marcos La Laguna - a hippie oasis in Guatemala. However, I have landed back on the slightly less exotic shores of Australia - the place I fondly refer to as home - and I have stories to tell and time to tell them. 

This introduction cannot continue without me plugging the fact that I am now living in the beautiful mid-north coast of Australia, where I am starting my business as a NUTRITIONIST! I am setting up my business to be predominately online. "A gut feeling Nutritionist who provides consultations via skype/phone and who presents talks and workshops in the local area of wherever she currently resides." This is new title I will be giving myself, as soon as I figure out dotting the T's and crossing the i's (thats the saying right?!).

I am going to share these blog posts chronologically to the order in which my travels occurred.


Starting in LA, Los Angeles - the city of angels and no sidewalks. This star studded, sprawling city is the catalyst of the current health trends that are trampling through developed countries. This city should stand for everything I believe in - every corner ladened with healthy, holistic inspired ventures. One can order any kind of meal to suit any and every type of dietary restriction. Everyone knows what Kombucha is and this is proved by Wholefoods continuing to erect an ever expanding wall-sized display of over priced probiotic drinks on the regular. However, what I should love about this city is also the very thing that I strongly dislike about societies perspective on health...the fact that healthy food is given a title of being "trendy". The image That health is expensive and that certain foods like matcha or cashew butter are placed on a pedestal. even though they are grown on the other side of the world - the matcha is imported from japan and the cashews from vietnam. 

The city is overflowing with supplements THAT YOU NEED! Even those who don't see a nutritionist nor naturopath take nutritional supplements. The consumerism of health food products is HUGE and holds a certain empty almost superficial air. I am not separate from that, I'm a sucker for pretty label that shouts health claims. Especially the health claim "CLEANSE" - that word triggered me to spend 12 dollars on juices (which is like 15 AUD) over and over again. ANYTHING TO GET RID OF THE EXCESSIVE OESTROGEN IN MY BODY AND KICK MY LIVER IN ACTION! I shout internally as a montage of the all the crap food I consumed on the flight to LA plays out in my mind.

My friend and I spent 5 days in LA and if I am honest I didn't really eat out all that whole time, we more cooked in the kitchen of our airbnb. The main reason... I was at the beginning of an 8 month trip and the AUD was really weak against the USD.  

We stayed on Venice Beach and I fell in love with Abbott-Kinney. What started out as giddy excitement, induced (deluded) by pretty labels and skinny women, of the array of health foods and health conscious attitudes! Was quickly evaporated to reveal the empty reality. People were not more educated about their own health as unique individuals. The facade of health is to make money! Food for profit. The term "organic" was thrown around willy nilly. And the giant health food stores still promote mass production, aesthetically pleasing fresh food and consequently food waste. 

As a nutritionist I want to empower people to have an understanding of their own body. To understand that the real importance of health and nutritional status comes from within. This doesn't just mean having a nice personality... but mostly means having a DIGESTIVE SYSTEM that functions optimally. Because regardless of what you are throwing down your neck, if it has not been properly prepared for digestion then minimal absorption of nutrients will incur. Additional consequences of improper digestion are aggravation to the digestive tract presenting as food intolerances, bloating and nutrient deficiencies. 

To conclude, LA is a super fun place where you can grab a algae/spirulina cold pressed juice for $12. But LA is still very much the poster girl for food for profit and food made in factories not homes. Making excessive income of foods that have more health claims than ingredients.

I would recommend reading IN DEFENCE OF FOOD by Michael Pollan
to learn more about "Nutritionism" and Food for Profit.
 
Thank you for reading, Love Lydia xx

Eat Fat

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Lets have a chat about fat, and maybe why you should throw out all your “fat free” products… now! In fact, why are they still being sold? Fats are essential for human function ! And most of the vitamins that keep the skin looking delicious are fat soluble. Today I’ll talk about some of the best foods for the skin and why you should stop ordering skim milk lattes (PLEASE!). 

A lecturer of mine once said she wished the macronutrient “fat” and the adipose tissue known as “fat” had completely different names. So that people didn’t associate eating fat with getting fat. When fat is removed from a food the sugar content is increased. The body converts sugar into body fat much more efficiently than the body turns fat into body fat. 

So lets get down to business…

When Im talking about fats I mean fatty acids of course! And they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and categories. To provide you with a basis I will first divide fats into beneficial and non beneficial. And trust me, its not rocket science:

Beneficial 

  • if it’s from a natural whole food source animal (sustainably sourced) or vegetable.
  • NOTE - When consuming oils they must be cold pressed - and not heated above their smoke point for example olive oil must not be heated before consumption as this weakens the carbon bonds causing free radicals. Coconut oil is a stable oil and can be used for cooking. Certain oils are best kept in the fridge and not exposed to sunlight i.e. - flaxseed oil.
  • COOK WITH - Butter (grass fed), Coconut oil, lard ( or duck fat) or ghee 
  • CONSUME RAW on salads - Extra Virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, avocado oil and so on. 

Non Beneficial

  • Anything made in a lab by people in white coats ie. Margarine
  • Hydrogenated oil - this is made in a lab turning a oil that is liquid at room temperature into a solid at room temperature. Also known as margarine also known as trans fatty acids. These types of fats don’t move around the body well, they aren’t eliminated and start to make up parts of fat cells in the body.
  • Canola oil should be avoided

Now onto some specifics… 

Vitamin A, D and E - these are the main fat soluble vitamins I’ll touch on today. 


Vitamin A is essential for cell communication, immune function and for vision in the body. Foods that are famous for having vitamin A are carrots, sweet potato and capsicum to name a few. The highest sources are organ meats, cod liver oil and egg yolk. But heres the trick, the vegetable sources of Vitamin A need adequate fat in the meal for the body to be able to access the vitamin A.

Vitamin D mostly comes from the sun and requires cholesterol to be used by the body. Thats right. Cholesterol. Along with many other functions, Vitamin D is important for the guts ability to absorb calcium from foods. Calcium is needed for bones, teeth, hair and nails. Vitamin D deficiency is also prevalent in depressed individuals. 

Vitamin E = avocados. Enough said. Just incase you haven’t heard avocados are good for your skin… well they are ! If you don’t quite have enough money for $8 avocados (I am honest, that is how much they are right now!) vitamin E is also in cashew nuts and brown rice. Vitamin E has shown to reduce inflammation in the skin. Especially great if you have red hot spots. 

Despite all the research article, studies and figures, you cannot beat life experience and learning from your elders. My mum is a great example of someone who has never cut fat out of her diet. My mum has amazing skin, she is 48 and feeling great (she’s a little older than that… but she doesn’t tell anyone her age and I have chosen to forget) and she has never worn makeup except on her wedding day. And she has beautiful skin, that has a radiant glow and the appropriate signs of ageing. There are so many internal benefits mum is getting from consuming fats, but I’ll talk about those another day. 

A final note, if you have trouble digesting fats and full cream products this often indicative of poor digestive acids and you should address your gallbladder & liver function. Bitter foods such as dandelion, fresh lemon juice & radicchio are great for stimulating the gallbladder-liver combo.   

So if there is anything you take away from todays chat it’s STOP ORDERING SKIM MILK LATTÉS! And maybe opt for Dandelion Latte instead

Lydia xx 

(BHSc)

 

gut multiculturalism

We are all unique. What works for me, won’t work for you. 

The culture of my gut bacteria may not match the culture of my cuisine. 

I don’t have a strong cultural identity nor connection. I am just an Australian with a distant heritage of Scottish and Irish (I think…). I come from a big beautiful family that barely remembers their cultural heritage, their “roots of origin”. All I know is my Nan and Pop on my mothers side traced their family history back to discover their ancestors came from villages next door to each other in Ireland (or was it Scotland?). I realise I sound nonchalant and uninterested in my cultural origins but that’s because I have never identified strongly with them. I have nothing to identify them as. Growing up we didn’t have any strong cultural traditions passed down through the generations (does my nans’ Rainbow cake count?). Even my grandparents on both sides of my family had abandoned any religious ties early on. 

So here I am, a “some number” generation Australian (I literally have no idea how many generations before me have lived in Australia. Sigh). I have a suspected Irish and Scottish background. People often say I look Scandinavian or Germanic as I am ludicrously tall, have blue eyes and blond facial hair (facial hair as in eyebrows and eyelashes. I haven’t yet grown a beard, although I did find that one hair that one time…). I have grown up eating a modern Australian cuisine which exists predominately of versions of Italian, Greek, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, British and Mexican cuisine. BUT I have the Gut Bacteria of someone with a distant Irish/Scottish background. And we wonder why growing up I would often have digestion problems! My belly is confused! 

While, yes, as a human species we all share the commonality of mostly having beating hearts and four limbs. But there are secrets going on in our inner ecology we barely speak of. These make us different from one another. Genetically speaking, we all have human genetics. But it is our non human genetics, that make up the most part of us, that are distinctively unique and that decide what we do and don’t digest. 

Therefore, depending on our long lost or not so distant cultural roots, our bodies have evolved symbiotically with bacterias to digest certain foods. And not other foods. And the key to healthy Guts, healthy wife and healthy life is … Great Gut Microbiota DIVERSITY ! 

A TIP (just one little tip) ON HOW TO EXIST IN THIS EVER EVOLVING MULTICULTURALISING WORLD ?! 


Horizontal Gene Transfer

Just to nerd out a bit on you all. Who’s heard of Hologenome !? Okay so, for those of you who have a life - the theory of Hologenome is basically the evolution of us and bacterias. And how bacterias have shaped the way we have evolved. An example of this is the Mitochondria - the mitochondria not only has a delicious name - but it lives inside cells and turns moooosh into ENERGY! As the theory goes, a eukaryote mutated with a microbe to deliver what we now know to be the mitochondria.

With this theory in mind, microbes in foods have been influencing the way we digest certain foods we have been CULTURALLY exposed to over the course of our evolution.

Eukaryotes are human cells that have a nucleus they cannot share genes with other cells. HOWEVER, bacterias and archea CAN share their genes with others.

So this gives you a little of an idea as to how probiotics and bacterias in food can influence your GUT bacteria. By sharing jeans ! No… GENES ! By evolving and diversifying. And remember GUT diversity is the key to health. 

So lets back up a bit - we live in a multicultural world whereby most of us have chronic illnesses that stem from the Gut as a result of poor digestion and sad Gut microbiota ecology. Gut microbiota can be influenced genetically by ingested microbes from foods and probiotics. Thus causing greater GUT diversity. THUS assisting us cultural mutants to digest a greater array of foods. HOORAY ! 

THE TIP IS…to start consuming more lIVE-CULTURE FOODS to change the bacterial ecology of your GUT.  Everyone gives live culture foods a hippy dippy profile, but the fact of the matter is most food use to be live culture foods. Everything from chocolate to alcohol to bread! Were traditionally fermented foods. We just added preservatives, fillers and various agents to mimic the action of microbes in food. To speed up the process and to make food more profitable. Thus causing chronic illness! 

When you start consuming live culture foods - Start small and often to build up tolerance and familiarity! 

A man who has more words and wisdom than I - Michael Pollan - once said, “Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognise as food.”

SWAP DON’T STOP - to include live-culture foods in your diet

BREAD - Swap store bought bread with homemade sourdough (there are some great bakeries in Sydney).

YOGHURT - swap any old yoghurt that contains sugar, emulsifiers and thickeners with KEFIR or cultured yoghurt 

PICKLES - swap vinegar pickles with fermented vegetables.

VINEGAR - swap white vinegar with Apple Cider Vinegar that has been grown with a mother - the more floaties the better.

FOLLOW THIS LINK TO HEALTH & LEARNING

Lydia xx 

STRESSED GUT !!!!!

Of course there is a connection between the GUT and the brain! They inhabit the same organism, this particular organism requires them to communicate and they are physically connected by nerves, wiring, fatty bits and emotional energy. Just because they are two feet away from each other (or like me, who’s 6ft 2 - they're 3 feet apart from each other) and medically categorised two chapters away from each other in text books, does not mean they are independently functioning organs that are surprised that we have discovered their secret - THEY’VE BEEN COMMUNICATING ALL ALONG! 

How has it come to this? That discovering that one organ in the Central Nervous System has an influence on another organ in the Enteric Nervous System and vice versa - is revolutionary!?!  They both exist in the same human being! Of course they are a connection. The body is a giant soup, every cell communicates in some form or another with every other cell in a body. 

Communication is key...

So why is the baffling connection between the seemingly totally separate organs, the GUT and the brain so important to YOU? 

Well lets break this down, what is the GUT-brain-axis? In basic terms it is the neurones in the GUT are a part of the Enteric Nervous System (the Guts' brain) these communicate - - unbeknown to you - with the neurones in the Central Nervous System (the brains' brain). This meaning when you think STRESS - the gut hears it and acts accordingly.

What is stress? 


The route of all evil !? Naturally, instinctively, stress is designed to ignite our rested mind and muscles and kick them into gear so you loose all logic and run, run, run away from the life threatening tiger until you are safe. Once you are safe up in a tree, your heart stops beating out of your face, stress melts from your body and beautiful peaceful euphoria waves over you and you appreciate your existence on this planet… until you realise you’re afraid of heights and the sudden realisation evokes an overwhelmed response at the possibility of falling. You start trembling and your heart begins beating out your face again as you imagine all the terrible ways you could pummel to the distant ground. 

Here I have lyrically, nay - poetically, described two elements of stress - physical (run, run, run from the tiger) and perceived (the possibility of falling). Interestingly however, the body reacts the same way to both stresses. Even though, in the perceived stress scenario skeletal muscles don’t need to be fuelled, glucose still rushes to them. Now, being at a great height up a tree does require a little more muscle use than say, sitting at your desk pumping out some words on a computer before the impending deadline arrives (this requires little to no skeletal muscles). 

However, I hope you now understand the difference between perceived stress and physical stress (or rather actual stress). One is in your mind and the other is outside of your mind - but your body responds the same.

Stress and Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS) are best friends - they coexist, hand in hand. Because the physiology of stress is to take nutrients, love, care, energy and blood away from the enteric nervous system. Away from the digestive organs and out to the brain and skeletal muscles. Thus, your emotions give you irritable bowel syndrome or at least strongly aggravate IBS. You know that feeling, you’re so stressed you could vomit! Or you get cramps, or loose your appetite or have to suddenly run to the toilet (no judgement here). This then becomes a chronic issue, when you are chronically stressed, because your Gut becomes chronically undernourished and over aggravated. 

So managing your stress levels is not just for your mental wellbeing. It is for your whole bodies well being. And guess what - Science says: the only thing that reduces stress and flicks the brain over into relaxing is increasing the length of every exhaling breath. Magic! And after all this slow, conscious relaxation in doing so your gut is re-nourished and the attention is back on digestion. 

So in a hazel nut shell

  • The body responds to both physical stress and perceived stress exactly the same. 
  • When the body is in stress - perceived or actual - it removes the priority away from the gut. 
  • The gut becomes anaemic and reduces function 
  • This becomes a chronic issue and symptoms of IBS ensue 
  • You begin to lengthen your out breath to implement relaxation
  • Relaxation stops you from running to the toilet in fits of pain and panic

    All my love & guts, 
    Lydia xx 

 

 

 

 

PURPLE CABBAGE increases your collagen production.

As a young child, around 3 or so, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen of our whole foods cafe preparing amazing cuisines. Not. Mostly I would just run around eating copious amounts of marinated artichokes, stuffing my mouth with frozen bananas and yelling “GIANT OLIVE” every time I saw an eggplant. Oh and venturing out onto the floor to tell every single customer that entered the intimate details of my family life “Same mother, different father!” I would reveal of my siblings and I. But in my more quiet, focused moments I loved watching my parents cook.

This leads me to my first memory of the beautiful purple cabbage. I remember being mesmerised, watching my mother slicing through the middle of a purple cabbage to reveal its intestinal-like innards. And then watching as mum would shave off layer by the layer, the pieces falling apart and collecting in a little bundle on the chopping board. Vegetables are beautiful, I thought. I spent a lot of my childhood daydreaming and creating stories out of everything. The intricate innards of a purple cabbage were so creature-like that I envisaged it as an alive conscious being. 

Purple cabbages (aka red cabbages - For the sake of visual accuracy I prefer to call it purple cabbage) have loads of benefits because they are whole foods. And as with all whole foods purple cabbages are full of all sorts of minerals and vitamins the body feeds off. But for the sake of completing this blog post in under a million words, I will focus on how purple cabbages are a miracle worker on the GUT and SKIN.

So lets slice open this purple cabbage and shave off some facts (see what I did there? ;) )  -

Vitamin A - Vitamin A exists as beta-carotene in purple cabbage (thats the stuff carrots are famous for). Eating fat with purple cabbage helps the body to turn the plant version of vitamin A (beta-carotene) into the animal form of vitamin A (retinol) so it can be used by the body. 

Vitamin A maintains epithelial cell health in the human body. Epithelial cells are what our skins is made of and what our digestive tract is made of. So if these cells are healthy, the greater organ is happy. Deficiency of vitamin A may present as drying and hardening of the skin. Um, ew.   

Vitamin C - Purple cabbage has a greedily high amount of vitamin C. Approximately 85% of the estimated daily value for a human. That is per a 1 cup serving. WOWZA! Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin meaning cooked purple cabbage has slightly less vitamin C compared to raw. Therefore it is important to consume purple cabbage both raw and cooked. A benefit of cooking purple cabbage is it reduces the presences goitrogens. Goitrogensinhibit the a thyroid hormone. You may have seen or heard of goitres (swelling of the thyroid gland). These substances do that. Unless of course you are a raw vegan in which case you are well educated on what foods you should minimise daily consumption of based on their non-beneficial components. 

Vitamin C is greeeeaaat for the skin. It makes collagen - that’s why it’s called Vitamin Collagen (Jokes! It is not and never will be called vitamin collagen). 

Probiotics - Sorry, did someone say kimchi? Or was it sauerkraut? Either way ! YES PLEASE !! From Korea to Germany our ancient folk certainly knew what to do with the sexy, sexy purple cabbage. As science progresses more and more, the more we realise that traditional styles of preserving and preparing meals had microscopic bacteria shaped health benefits.

Probiotic rich foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut are made from cabbage ! It is so vital to include probiotic rich foods into your diet. Our gut flora is who we are - move over genetics. We are more foreign DNA than human DNA! So we want to make sure the foreign DNA is the good kind. 

Including a spool full of either kimchi or sauerkraut with every cooked meal will ensure your skin glows and your digestive tract functions effortlessly, free of pain and absorbs all the nutrients you require. 

So the next time you’re at your local organic farmers market (or supermarket, I won’t judge) grab a purple cabbage and bless mother nature (and vegetable breeders) that this godly brassica exists. Your skin and GUT will thank you.

Lydia xx

 

(BHSc)