What is ojas and why we need it for winter wellness!

So I thought I’d keep it simple and do some tips to feel more delicious during January! And what better way than to get inspiration from the home of wellbeing- Ayurveda!

In Ayurveda there are three subtle forces in our body: prana, tejas and ojas.

If you know about the doshas then they correspond with each dosha. Prana and vata, tejas and pitta and ojas and kapha.

You may already be familiar with the concept of prana but it is this time of year that we want to nourish our ojas as it is our ultimate energy reserve.

🧡 Our ojas build strength and resilience, protect and sustains us.

🧡 Ojas maintains our immunity, fertility, brings lustre to the skin and eyes and overall vitality.

🧡 Ojas builds our compassion, contentment, love, satisfaction and clarity.

🧡 Ojas acts as a shield against stress, disease, infection and even those old emotional vampires 🧛‍♀️!

With many of us stressed and depleted, we might want to focus on building ojas, this vital honey of life.

So how can we work with our ojas:

  • Self-care: this will be different for everyone; some people’s self-care might be doing some art whereas others love gardening but if you fancied doing some DIY spa treatments here are some ideas:

o 🍯Massage honey with a little water into your scalp and let it infuse for an hour or more- not only does this moisturise and restore shine to your hair, it also clears dandruff- almost instantly!

o 🥚Whisk some egg white and add to your face, let it dry remove to tighten the skin and follow with egg yolk to moisturise.

o 🥑Use almond oil and avocado oil to rub into your cuticles and strengthen your nails

o ☕Make an exfoliating and energising skin scrub of coffee grinds and brown sugar follow up by massaging in warming sesame oil for ultimate Ayurvedic treat!

  • Colours: How many of us think of the impact of our clothes or furniture on our health. Robing ourselves in golds, mustards and deep reds also brings strength, protection and vitality.
  • Diet: foods that nourish ojas are ghee, dates, honey, almonds, spiced milk and basmati rice. 🥬 Cooked green leafy vegetables, lentils and root vegetables are also supportive of our ojas so this is soup season!!
  • Digest: chew your food, be mindful when eating, use herbs and spices such as rosemary, chamomile, fennel, cumin and cardamom to support digestion.
  • Rest: enjoying sleep and restful practises – the importance of this cannot be overstated. Roll out of bed into some restorative yoga rather than HIIT, massage your body in sesame oil, light a candle and have a bath. It’s for your ojas!

So I hope you all join me in supporting your ojas this January!


where to buy herbs in the uk

Where to Buy Herbs in the UK

Where to Buy Herbs in the UK

I get asked where to buy herbs in the UK a lot. I always encourage people to get to know their local plants so that they can make their own medicine. However, that is a long term game as we might need to wait for the plant to be in season, for the medicine to be ready and also we have to have the time and inclination to make our own medicine in the first place!

The good news is there are lots of lovely suppliers that can provide us with the benefits of herbal medicine without us having to make our own!

Plus herbal suppliers may be making medicines using different techniques so we have more ways of working with the plants such as aromatic waters!

Why we should shop local

The quality of our herbal medicine is really important. Most negative interactions that people have with herbs is due to some suppliers adulterating expensive herbs with cheaper bulk material. We also want to ensure that the herbs are harvested in a sustainable way. Either by growing the herbs specifically for medicinal purposes or wildcrafting in a manner that does impact the biodiversity of the region.
Finally, we also want to ensure that the herbs are grown in the right environment so they do not become contaminated with heavy metals or pesticides. This can be a problem particularly sourcing from places with lower manufacturing standards to the UK such as China.

Therefore, I always recommend people buying directly from a herbal supplier rather than a faceless product off Amazon!

This also means we can support small businesses too!

Herb Suppliers:

Avicenna

One of my favourite herb suppliers, the founder Joe Nasr is a chemist and an artist and is able to capture the essence of herbs for his products including tinctures, aromatic waters and spiritous waters.  However, you do have to be a registered herbalist to buy.

Baldwins

Bristol Botanicals

Granary Herbs

Health Embassy

Herbal Apothecary

Herbs, Hands, Healing

A great place to find amazing blends for specific needs such as a detox and also stocks Dr Schulze products.

Herbs in A Bottle

HerbalVeda

Indigo Herbs

Organic Herb Trading Company 

These have an incredible range of dried organic herbs for teas and powders.

Napiers

One of our oldest herbal suppliers based in Scotland, founded in 1860 by herbalist Duncan Napier. It sells a wide range of herbs including tincture blends and teas.

Neal's Yard Remedies

Rutland Biodynamic

Rutland Biodynamic, as you can tell by the name, focus on selling biodynamic tinctures made of the fresh plant. I often prefer to use the fresh plant where possible and the quality of the herbs are incredible.

Panacea Health

Planta Medica

A plant medicine co-operative where you can join as a member and access reduced prices and input into the business. Even if you don't join, you can still buy an amazing range of plant medicines, a lot of them organic too.

Shanbally

Specialist Herbal Supplies

Star Child Glastonbury

A gorgeous shop selling dried herbs, aromatic waters and oils, they also have a beautiful range of candles, teas and incense. A must for those that are witchy minded!

Tree Harvest

A lovely, family run company based in Devon that not only sells some amazing botanicals but an incredible range of other products and foods. Great if you want to make skin care products or buy excellent quality of spices,  nuts and powders.

The UK Loose Leaf Tea Company

I hope this helps you get started with herbal medicine and please let me know if I have missed any off this list!

If you are also looking for blended herbal teas, then you can check out my own range here!


Mood boosting herbs

Mood Boosting Herbs

Mood Boosting Herbs 😍🌿

Just as I started writing this post the sky turned grey and the rain started pouring down 🌧 and I thought what better time to write about mood boosting herbs!

I’ve even just heard a dramatic thunderclap ⚡️!

So here are my favourite herbs to cheer us up on a miserable day 🙂!

Whether you are feeling a bit sorry for yourself or it is just a rainy day, here are my go-to herbal allies.

mood boosting herbs

  • Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
    • This is the most beautiful flower and is named after the Passion of the Christ! It is often used as to calm the nervous system and aid with sleep 💤. It is very soothing! I’m taking passionflower to stop my circulating thoughts (I am a typical Vata) and have found it to be highly therapeutic. I’ve even become more productive 👩‍💻  as it seems to be helping with procrastination which is a great side effect! It is also an anti-spasmodic and relaxes the muscles which can be helpful f
      or those with asthma or even something like Parkinsons. A very lovely remedy that can help a lot of people even procrastinators like me!

mood boosting herbs

  • St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

I always talk about St John’s Wort because it is the ultimate flower to bring in the sunshine ☀️. It can really help someone get through a dark winter with seasonal affective disorder. However, the best and most effective way to take this is as a fresh flowering tincture. The way to tell if it is made with the fresh flower is that the tincture will be a bright red colour! If you have previously just tried St John’s wort in capsules and not found success, then this might be why. One of those quirks of herbal medicine! Quick FYI St John's Wort it does speed up liver detoxification which is good unless you are on medication so so not one to take if you are! Something like the contraceptive pill might get eliminated too quickly and then you definitely won't feel cheered up 😳!

 

  • Oat straw (Avena sativa)
    • This is another herb I also recommend this to everyone. The tincture made with the milky oat seed restores strength to tmood boosting herbshe nervous system and is wonderful to use if people are just feeling completely exhausted. However, my favourite way is to make a nourishing herbal infusion with the dried oat straw. It is so nourishing, so sweet and delicious. Drinking it hot with a little biscuit brings me so much comfort and warmth!☕️

 

  • Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
    • This is such a beautiful mint and so easy to grow that everyone can access its power! The intoxicating lemon 🍋 scent lifts the spirit and I have a little pot on my windowsill just so I can rub the leaves and pop it fresh into teas! The great Arabic herbalist Avicenna said lemolemon balm for delightn balm caused ‘the mind and the heart to be merry’. It can also promote concentration, calm the nerves and relieve anxiety. It has even been used to give to children before bed to prevent nightmares!

 

 

 

  • Vervain (Verbena officinalis)
    • Many herbs that lift our mood also support the liver which was traditionally associated with melancholy. By getting the liver going we can often work through our dark moods too! Vervain is a greatexample of this as it is a wVervain for love happiness and healthy liveronder for the liver and for lifting the moods. It has always been held sacred in many traditions. The Ancient Egyptians held that it represented the tears shed by Isis at the loss of Osiris, to druids would crown their High Priestesses in Vervain and Christians would use it to sprinkle holy water. Vervain brings 💕 love and prosperity and I think we all need a bit of that right now!

 

So next time you feel like you need a mood pep then hope you find some herbal allies that might work for you.


Can bloating be caused by gut bacteria

Can Bloating Be Caused By Gut Bacteria?

Can bloating be caused by gut bacteria?

Bloating is probably one of the most common issues that my clients talk to me about! There are lots of different reasons that we may get bloated after eating.

We often find improvements restricting foods and changing our diet.

However, this might be address your symptoms but ignore the cause which can be our gut flora!

Gut feelings

We are learning everyday about how the different species of microorganisms that live in our gut can impact our health.

We also see that the choices we make can change the gut flora we have. In fact the types of flora inhabiting our gut have been changing as a reaction to the consumption of processed foods, medications, chlorinated water, stress etc..

One of these changes is the rise of firmicutes living in our guts.  Firmicutes are a category (or phylum) of microbes that can create issues with digestion if we have too many of them.

In fact unhealthy, overweight people actually tend to have a dominance of firmicutes. However,  the healthier people tend to have more a different type of microbe called bacteroidetes hanging out in their gut.

What do firmicutes do?

Firmicutes LOVE sugar and need it to survive and thrive. In the process of living their best lives, firmicutes actually create a lot of inflammation and fermentation. The fermentation process is what causes fullness and bloating from the gassy by-products of the fermentation process.

But we want more bacteroidetes - these are the bacteria that fight inflammation and even fat! We often see benefits and relief from bloating when we start restricting the diet from the foods that firmicutes enjoy such as simple sugars found in sweets and refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta etc..)

But what can happen is that the firmicutes will realise they are being starved out and go into hibernation mode so as soon as you add these foods back in they will be back doing their thing with a vengeance!

How to fix those firmicutes!

What you really need to do is combine a restrictive diet with herbs! Plants are rich in polyphenols that are found in the peels and skins that resemble sugar. This therefore appeals to firmicutes who have not been fed for a while and are craving sugar!

So they start consuming the plant polyphenols but the trick is that the polyphenols actually help displace and eradicate them! Polyphenols are effectively poisoning them! But in a nice gentle way so that the amounts become manageable rather than antibiotics which eradicate all forms of life!

By combining herbs with diet then this means you don't need to be stuck on a restrictive diet for life and the results are a lot quicker! There are lots of herbs that can be added in but also everyday spices such as:

  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Cacao
  • Cardamon

Also don't forget the the culinary herbs such as:

  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Oregano and
  • Mint

You can even get benefit from drinking a cup of green tea or hibiscus tea. Finally, even the skins of nuts are rich in polyphenols!

So can bloating be caused by gut bacteria?

Yes which means perhaps you don't need to be on an unsustainable, restrictive diet for the rest of your life to ease digestive distress. Instead focus on getting in as many herbs and spices possible with every meal to help keep your gut flora in check!

Another option is of course try some Agni Tea specifically designed to relieve digestive distress!


watermelon health benefits

Watermelon Health Benefits

Watermelon Health Benefits

I love watermelon! Although it's sadly not fruit I can grow myself in London, I cannot resist its allure on a hot summer's day! There are lots of other reasons why we should be enjoying it too and there are so many watermelon health benefits.

The name watermelon is quite accurate as it is 92% water.  However, it still contains some amazing therapeutic compounds that will help our health!

It contains vitamin C, beta-carotene and lycopene, B1, B6, biotin, magnesium, potassium and dietary fibre.

Firstly, let's think about the energetics of a watermelon. It is very cooling. Therefore, it is great for removing excess heat. This is why its so refreshing in the summer!

If you are familiar with Ayurveda then the pitta dosha tends to suffer from excess heat and inflammation so watermelon could be really helpful for pitta types.

This cooling nature of watermelon can also be used topically to soothe the heat and inflammation on the skin. Therefore, you could try using the juice or rind for rashes particularly heat rashes.

Other Ways to Use Watermelon

  • Watermelon is a diuretic and can help difficulty with peeing.
  • The seeds of the watermelon contain cucurbocitrin which helps lower blood pressure by dilating the blood vessels.
  • Watermelon is the richest source of the amino acid citrulline which converts to arginine and nitric oxide in the body that also improves blood flow and reduces blood pressure.
  • The seeds can also be chewed as a remedy for constipation.
  • The rind is rich in silicon and also can reduce high blood pressure.
  • Watermelon juice is also rich in alpha-hydroxy acids citric acid and malic acid. These are natural exfoliants used in skin care products so to make a DIY scrub then use watermelon juice to get rid of dead skin cells, brighten complexion and stimulate collagen production!
  • Watermelon is  an ally for the kidneys and just drinking watermelon juice and water for a day or two can be used as a kidney cleanse.
  • Watermelon rind can be juiced or you can dry the rind and make a tea, or pickle the rind in salt.

 

 


how to make cbd suppositories

How to Make CBD Suppositories

How to Make CBD Suppositories, Pessaries and Generally Sticking Things In Your Bits!

I have teamed up with Yūgenial which is an incredible wellness brand specialising in CBD products. We are creating an e-book on how to use CBD in different ways beyond just supplementing with it. This included how to make CBD suppositories!

The founder of Yūgenial, Nia and I have already collaborated on events combining her knowledge of CBD and science with our passion for plant medicine!

Nia and I come from very different backgrounds as she has studied medicine at Imperial College whereas my training has been purely in naturopathy!However, I love that Nia’s scientific background meets perfectly with my witchy inclinations as there is actually a lot of scientific evidence and rationale for ancient traditions of healing!

So why is this relevant to suppositories?

Suppositories are basically a form of prescribing medicine through the vagina or rectum. So rather than taking a pill or a capsule, you can pop a suppository up there instead!

A lot of people are hesitant when learning about taking herbs vaginally or anally. It does sound quite GOOP!

However, they are actually recognised forms of drug delivery in the Western scientific tradition because there are so many blood vessels in the anus which means the drug can enter directly into your blood stream without first being processed by your gut and liver which would happen when you take a drug by mouth.

This means it works quicker and you can get more of the drug in your body.

Therefore, it makes sense why herbalists also use suppositories as a mode of application and particularly relevant if you have problems in that area.

I have used vaginal herbal pessaries (pessaries are the same concept to suppositories but there are types of pessaries that can be used to prevent vaginal prolapse or act as contraception) for clients with chronic candida or bacterial vaginosis.

Homemade herbal suppositories or pessaries are usually made with coconut oil which allows for symptom relief and also will contain herbs that can address the infection such as calendula or thyme.

However, what Nia and I realised was we could share with people how to get the benefits of CBD using a similar route!

What is CBD?

This is probably the first question when it comes to how to make CBD suppositories!

So CBD (or cannabidiol) is a compound found in the cannabis plant.

Cannabis is unfortunately associated with the compound THC which can get you high. But the CBD compound has many medicinal benefits that science has previously ignored due to the stigma around cannabis.

Many of you would have heard of hemp. This is a species of cannabis that is rich in CBD and extremely low in THC (you would not get high smoking it!).

how to make CBD suppositories

Hemp has been used medicinally and also for food, clothing, fishing nets, rope- in fact it is a highly sustainable alternative to plastic!

However, I will focus on the medicinal benefits of hemp and CBD!

Benefits of CBD

Hemp has been used as medicine for 1000s of years. In fact, it was noted by a 1stcentury Roman historian Pliny the Elder that “a decoction of the root in water relaxes contractions of the joints and cures gout and similar maladies.”

It has been used by physicians to treat fever, inflammation, arthritis, and joint pain, skin burns, tumours and even STDs!

However, it was made illegal to grow in the thirties in the US and our knowledge of this plant was suppressed.  Fortunately, due to a recent increase in scientific research that is showing overwhelming benefits from CBD we are slowely seeing progress being made to reintroduce this as a curative plant into our culture.

Some of the scientific research has shown CBD to:

  • Reduce anxiety
  • Relieve pain
  • Regenerate the nervous system
  • Promote sleep
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Alleviate depression

The list goes on and if you are interested in the studies behind this- I would recommend this blog post on CBD science byYūgenial.

Benefits of CBD Suppositories

So lets combine what we know about CBD and what we know about suppositories- we now have an excellent way to get the benefits of CBD that will be highly bioavailable!

Not only this but we get the benefits of CBD locally to this area. Therefore, some can use CBD as a way to relax or relieve anxiety before sex.

It is also incredibly powerful for women that might suffer from painful periods.

If you are suffering from menstrual cramps  a CBD suppository could be a great way to relieve the tension and pain.

A study showed that CBD inserted vaginally relieved extreme cramps in 20 minutes.

Herbal Suppositories

CBD can be combined with other herbs to make a vaginal pessary or suppository for specific actions. Calendula and thyme are powerful anti-fungals so you can add these to protect and work against candida infections.

St John’s Wort relaxes the nerves and has anti-viral properties so may help with HPV.

I love to use rose as it is anti-inflammatory, cooling and of course connects the womb to the heart.

How to CBD Suppositories

It is really simple! You can flex this recipe according to the amount you want to make so I’ve just provided the ratios!

  • 1 part coconut oil
  • 2 parts cocoa butter
  • 1 part Yūgenial CBD Elixir
  • Optional:
    • Herbal infused oils of your choice (this is when a herb has been infused in an oil such as almond or olive so you can make this yourself!)

All you do is melt the cocoa butter with the coconut oil and the Yūgenial CBD elixir. You can also add in your herbs at this stage and once melted you can pour into moulds and they will harden in the fridge or freezer.

Once you are ready to use you can insert them in your private parts and they will gently melt providing soothing relief.

Please note; you will get oily thighs when it melts!!

how to make CBD suppositories

I will be providing more detail on how to make a CBD suppository and other recipes in an ebook that I'm creating with Yūgenial and you can subscribe to their mailing list to be the first to hear about it when it gets launched.

CBD Suppository Controversy!

Many of you will be thinking- NO WAY- I do not want to put something up my bottom!

This is totally fine! But I do want to help allay any concerns around safety.

There is a slight paradox that anything natural promoting vaginal health such as herbal suppositories or yoni steaming is automatically side-lined and condemned to hippy, witchy nonsense.

When we have plenty of products that millions of people use on a daily basis  such as hygiene products, wet wipes etc… that contain synthetic chemicals and other things that generally do not have a good impact on our health!

Tampons are a big annoyance for me because they are so unsustainable, produced using so many pesticides, bleaching chemicals and contain dioxins that have clearly been linked with endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease!

So I know what I would rather be putting up my faffaloo and that is definitely a calming, uplifting CBD suppository made with my own hands using ingredients I trust and know where they have been!

However, I will leave it with you to make up your own mind :)!

 

 


rosemary meaning

Rosemary Meaning and Symbolism

5 Benefits Traditional Benefits Rosemary

Today I have got blissfully lost in ancient Rosemary folklore. Rosemary has so much meaning and symbolism throughout many cultures, I love how we can connect with this plant in the same way that our forebearers did.

My voyage of discovery reminded me what I love most about studying herbalism: It’s not just about learning biochemical actions of plants. It’s also about exploring the traditions, history, rituals, culture and the subconscious memory of herbs.

Rosemary has been offering us protection and comfort throughout the ages and we are still learning about all the incredible properties it has.

Here’s a rundown of just 5 of Rosemary’s benefits with a fascinating glimpse into the history of this aromatic herb.

Rosemary boosts our brainpower

A 2012 study showing the smell of Rosemary can increase your memory by 75% prompted the media to proclaim Rosemary as a latest hack to boost intelligence.

However, this is nothing new. In fact it’s something we’ve known for millennia.

As far back as Ancient Greece, students wore garlands of rosemary around their necks, or plaited in their hair to improve their memory during exams.

Rosemary connects us to those who have passed away

Rosemary doesn’t just help us remembering facts for exams. It is also saidthat it helps us remember those who have passed away.

From Ancient Egyptians to the early Europeans, rosemary would be placed on coffins or outside tombs during burial rites a tradition spanning many cultures and countries.

Rosemary reveals our true love 

On a more positive note, Rosemary is also associated with fidelity and love.It is traditional to give a sprig of rosemary to newlyweds to inspire faithfulness. In English folklore if a girl placed a plate of flour under a rosemary bush on midsummer's eve, her future husband's initials would be written in it.

In France if a man could not smell the fragrance of rosemary then he would be an inadequate lover!

You can try it yourself by putting rosemary under your pillow then your dreams may reveal you'retrue love!

Rosemary heals

Of course, Rosemary is also a medicinal herb and was used traditionally to sterilise and prevent infections.

Burning rosemary purifies the air so was used both in hospitals and churches to this effect.

The Romans used rosemary not just to protect against infections but evil spirits.

Rosemary has beauty benefits

Rosemary is also famous for its cosmetic uses and washing your face with it preserves youth and beauty.

A great illustration of this is when Queen Elizabeth of Hungary (1305-1381) used Rosemary Water to ease her rheumatism and gout. At the age of 73 it did not only cure her of these ailments but completely rejuvenated her entire self. She became so beautiful that the King of Poland then proposed to her when he was just 26!

Rosemary has been offering us protection and comfort throughout the ages and we are still learning about all the incredible properties it has.

Now you know more about rosemary meaning and symbolism, I’m going to put some under my pillow and start dreaming of my true love 💕

rosemary meaning


Should I cut out gluten?

Everything you need to know about gluten

Gluten sensitivity is such a hot topic the moment. I often get people asking me 'should I cut out gluten?'

What they want is a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

What they need is a greater understanding of the bigger picture.

Only by understanding how food works within our unique body, can we really discover what we need to keep in our diets, and what we should cut out.

So, unfortunately this post isn’t a prescription. Instead it’s a bare-essentials lowdown on gluten which explains what it is and why it may, or may not, be the culprit making you feel uncomfortable.

Hopefully by understanding gluten you can begin to make an informed choice about how much you’re eating and if it’s doing you any good.

What is gluten?

Did you know gluten is actually the Latin word for ‘glue’? That’s because it’s the magic ingredient that gives the chewy (and delicious) strength and elasticity to bread.

However, rather than being just one molecule, it’s actually a group of proteins that exist within grains like wheat.

Most of the proteins in the gluten group are called gliadin and glutenin.

You may already know protein is a macronutrient (like fat and carbohydrates) made-up of amino acids that are essential for life.

However, the proteins within gluten, particularly gliadin, can be very difficult for some people to digest and break down into smaller, more absorbable peptides (smaller chains of amino acids).

This can be where the trouble starts.

Understanding coeliac disease 

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition stimulated by gluten. It affects around 1 in 100 people and occurs when the body turns on gluten, attacking it like a virus.

After eating gluten, a coeliac sufferer is likely to experience severe abdominal pain, diarrhoea or constipation, gas and bloating.

If they are eating gluten on a regular basis and the body can no longer absorb nutrients often people will get very thin, anaemic, depressed, fatigued and deficiencies in vitamins and minerals.

Therefore, to avoid the condition coeliac sufferers should not have gluten in any form or any amount.

If you suspect you are suffering from coeliac symptoms and haven’t been diagnosed it’s important you go and see your Doctor.  If you are a coeliac the answer to should I cut out gluten will definitely be yes!

Understanding gluten sensitivity: The trouble with wheat and modern bread

It’s important to understand gluten sensitivity as a multi-faceted issue as people tend not to eat pure gluten, they eat wheat. Therefore, it can be unclear what is the trigger when people feel uncomfortable after a sandwich.

Wheat itself is problematic. It’s sprayed with pesticides, refined so much it loses its fibre and mineral content and stored for long periods of time, often exposed to moulds and fungi and then made into bread.

The bread baking processtakes this to another level.  Modern baking methods now mean a loaf of bread can be now be made, risen, baked and served in under 3.5 hours (google Chorleywood Bread Process). This bread contains enzymes, hydrogenated or fractionated fats, emulsifiers, preservatives and bleach.

The enzymes pose a particular problem because they are classified as processing aids and therefore do not have to be listed under ingredients. One enzyme transglutaminase speeds up the mechanisms in coeliac disease.Another enzyme fungal alpha-amylase is a known allergen that can cause ‘baker’s asthma’,detected in bread crust.

The success of sourdough is because it only has four ingredients- flour, water, some salt and a sourdough starter culture. It ferments over 24 hours to create a bread that is easier to digest and absorb by many people.

Therefore, many people may not be gluten sensitive and instead react badly to wheat or badly made bread. Therefore, the answer to should I cut out gluten? might be no! You might just need to cut out processed bread!

Understanding non-coeliac gluten sensitivity

However, there are also people that suffer from non-coeliac gluten sensitivity whereby their body also has an immune reaction the gluten protein, but it manifests differently to coeliac disease.

The tests may be negative for coeliac disease, yet the person still feels better when not eating gluten.

Why?

This is where it gets interesting. Gluten sensitivity is not always a disease of the small intestine and can manifest anywhere in the body.

The key difference is that the body does not produce the antibodies to gluten that coeliac disease sufferers do. However, they still have an immune reaction to gluten.

Therefore, the answer to should I cut out gluten if you have a sensitivity but are not coeliac would be yes....although there may be an underlying cause for this sensitivity that might need to be addressed...

Fact: gluten overload is a part of modern life

Gluten is so useful that you can find it not just in food but on stamps, makeup, supplements and chewing gum.

The abundance of gluten in our daily lives might be a reason why gluten sensitivity has increased so much.

Many people will have cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and pasta for dinner and many processed foods will contain gluten without people realising it.

For example; potatoes are gluten-free but if you like your chips with vinegar then you have just added a source of gluten, same for soy sauce in your stir-fries.

It’s everywhere!  This daily gluten fest could be the reason for sensitivities developing in people without coeliac disease.

So should I cut out gluten?

Well we know that someone with coeliac disease definitely should! However, gluten sensitivity needs to be investigated further. What are people actually reacting to? Due to the amount of gluten found in everyday lives then it is a good idea to be more conscious of what you are eating.

The easiest way to do this is to eat fresh, unprocessed foods. Only buy food with one ingredient in! This way we reduce exposure to the potential toxicities of not just gluten but other ingredients that can confuse our bodies.

Going gluten free does not always solve this as the alternatives can become just as bad as gluten if you start reading the labels of many gluten-free substitutes.

Why not experiment at cutting out gluten for 3 months and see if you feel better. Keep a diary of mood and body changes to track how you feel. Then you can slowly add in lower gluten containing foods such as barley, spelt and rye and track how you feel with them. If they irritate you then take them out! You might find that you can tolerate these though and that opens up a world of possibilities of cooking with delicious grains! Experiment with making your own sourdough instead of shop bought bread.

As always it’s better to stick to unprocessed, whole foods whether embracing gluten or avoiding it but it is good to know that gluten-free brownies can be just as  delicious than the ones with flour in them!


health benefits of carrots

Curious about the Health Benefits of Carrots

Discover a bunch of crunchy health benefits of carrots

There are lots of health benefits of carrots! Wild carrots have been with us for millennia in all different shapes and sizes. However, 400 years ago orange carrots were bred and popularised to create the carrot we know and love today that you can find in a supermarket.

However, the heirloom varieties of carrots seem to be richer in nutrition than our orange friends. In fact purple carrots also have powerful health benefits due to their anthocyanin content (a compound that’s been shown to fight cancer) so try and find local vegetable growers so you can enjoy these  purple eye catching alternatives.

 

Besides their great taste, carrots come with a whole host of benefits, for example, the pigment in orange carrots, beta-carotenes get converted by our bodies into Vitamin A.

Hungry to find out more?

Here’s a little summary of the benefits of carrots:

  • As a rich source of beta-carotene carrots protect against cancer, heart disease and of course promote eye health so that we can see in the dark!
  • Beta-carotene is also great for the skin, to protect against acne. Carrots are also high in silicon, a mineral, that strengthens your hair, skin and nails.
  • Carrots have also been used to protect against heartburn, calm diarrhoea, dissolve stones and tumours and even kill worms!

 

So how do we use them?

  • Cook your carrots to release these amazing beta-carotenes! Ideally cooking them whole preserves these amazing benefits
  • Grated carrots have been used to kill worms and parasites and you can use them as a poultice (applied directly to the skin) to reduce skin growth and inflammation.
  • Juicing carrots and including the green tops is a great way to make a vegetable juice that is rich in minerals and also not as sweet as have the carrot root alone!
  • Finally, eat your carrots with some form of healthy fat (like aioli 🙂) to ensure you can absorb all the beta-carotene which is a fat-soluble nutrient.

And keep the skin on! It’s so good for you.

If you’d like to learn more about getting the most out of your food, I would recommend reading 'Eating on the Wild Side' by Jo Robinson which provides advice on how to buy, prepare and store fruits and veggies to get the highest nutritional content