The year is nearly at an end and it’s been another big year for health and wellness.
Now more than ever, people are starting to appreciate health more and therefore the health food and wellness product market has exploded. You just have to look at the sections in the supermarkets now that are dedicated to plant based/free from items to offer people compared to a few years ago when it was very difficult to find goji berries except in your local hippy health food store!
With so many products having come out it can be a mind field trying to figure out what you need/should try so I’ve summarised here some of my favourite products of the year which I’ve been quite fond of and will continue to purchase in the future.
Note: Obviously before trying any new supplements consult your GP first esp if on medication!
1) Karine jackson shampoo (Beauty kitchen brand)
This shampoo is made with all natural, chemical free, ingredients and smells lovely to boot! I love this one because it has ingredients that protect the hair but also help pull out pollutants that get in there from the days air/environment. Due to the nature of the ingredients it’s great for anyone with sensitive skin, the only issue i would be mindful of is that there are some essential oils in it which may not be suitable for skin with a lot of broken skin patches.
Find it: Holland & Barrett or online
2) Gato plant based cookie
Who doesn’t want a healthy cookie? I love these raspberry ones that are made with high fibre plant based ingredients, it’s also not too rich, but still feels like a treat without leaving you feeling sluggish or regretting your treat the way some richer foods can do.
Find it: Sainsburys, Holland & Barrett, Ocado
3) Ginseng green tea (rebranding from Qi to Herbal health teas)
Ginseng is an adaptogenic herb that can provide energy and help the body deal with stress better. This combined with organic green tea is a great combo especially if you need some energy in the morning. The green tea is also full of antioxidants and has a mild caffeine level, plus is organic meaning it’s free from contaminants that may be in other brands. This particular flavour also has some spice in there too which I love as it gives it a little kick of flavour. This tea brand is also one of my favourites in general.
Find it: Holland & Barrett, health food stores or online e.g. Amazon
This tablet contains a mix of rhodiola (adaptogenic herb) and passion flower which are helpful for dealing with stress and anxiety, the tablet also contains some zinc which is great for immunity and quite complementary as stressful times lowers your immune system, plus B vitamins too for energy release. I take this in the morning when I know I’m going to have a stressful day at work and let’s face it, most jobs are like that these days, so it gives a helping hand to your body.
The dose of rhodiola compared to tablets on their own isn’t huge but it combination with the other stuff it can be a helping hand to your body. On a side note, I’ve also been using some ashwaghanda for cortisol balance which is also released when we’re constantly stressed. Everyone’s body is different so you may respond better to one than another.
Find it: Holland & Barrett or online
5) Ape snacks crisps
These beauties are a great snack based on real food ingredients and the “cheese” flavoured ones are amazing, they really taste like Whotsits but with better ingredients. What I really like is that they use coconut oil which is more stable at higher baking temps whereas most other crisp brands use unstable regular sunflower oil which turns rancid and isn’t great for the heart so if you eat a lot of crisps I’d look carefully at what they use.
Find it: Holland & Barrett, sainsburys, Amazon or Boots
6) Seedful olive loaf
This. Is. Delicous.
I love this bread and couldn’t believe how good it was when I first tasted it. Normally a wholefood, high fibre gluten free loaf is pretty dense or dry but this is neither. It tastes amazing because of the chopped olives which give a mild saltiness which contrasts with the tangy apple cider vinegar for amazing flavour, plus the cider vinegar helps avoid the bread being dense and the healthy fats from the seeds keep it moist, I can’t recommend this brand enough!
Find it: Holland & Barrett
The Beauty of Eating Well by Camille Knowles is her latest creation which focuses on teaching people how to eat for better skin/healing skin conditions.
Camille herself has gone through skin conditions in the past and has learned to heal this through food and find joy in doing so. All the recipes are dairy, egg and gluten free but are full of colour and nourishing ingredients.
Having psoriasis myself, I’m aware of how my condition flares up when my digestive system is at its worst or when my stress levels are through the roof so I love how this book takes a whole body approach to healing skin, i.e, it talks about digestion, managing stress and trying to stay positive all alongside eating well which is really important, as any autoimmune/skin issue won’t go away from simply slugging down an acai smoothie twice a week while neglecting other aspects of your health.
One of the first things I noticed about this book and the recipes were that it focused on very colourful, bright foods which are packed with nutrients and antioxidants that are key to healing skin, moreover, it also has a few recipes in it that use high quality fish/meat, as they are a good source of zinc which is a key nutrient for healthy skin. So while this book is primarily plant based, it does have some recipes in there which might intrigue even the pickiest meat eater too but also makes it more inclusive as I feel some people can be put off by the thought of a book being completely vegan.
Just to note, some recipes do use ingredients that some people may be very unfamiliar with/find hard to find such as acai or teff but these can be easily substituted by other ingredients, just give it a quick google (for example the teff flour cracker recipe could sub more buckwheat flour etc).
For people with really sensitive guts there are also a lot of recipes that are grain free or use pseudo grains such as quinoa/teff etc and most of the breakfast/dessert recipes are centred around fruit and nuts/seeds rather than heavily grain based. Personally, I love the grain free bread, which is lovely and moist thanks to the good fats and goes great with soup!
The Beauty of Eating well is a good entry point for someone first learning about how to take care of their skin from the inside out. It will give you a few nourishing recipes to start kick your healing journey as well as tips for looking after your health in other ways too in order to achieve much healthier, happier skin.
You can buy the book in multiple forms from Amazon here: http://bit.ly/376bHgyinfluenceramazon
I’m writing this firstly as I really wanted to bring awareness to this topic but also because I’ve recently come across a lot of stories involving insensitive comments or someone who has spoken without thinking and quite often it has been to a person with an allergy/medical issue. Regarding my own health issues, I do it in order to minimise my symptoms and to prevent further illness further one down the line as I don’t want matters to get worse, people often fail to see this, instead only seeing what they perceive to be “deprivation”.
One message I really want people to take away from this is to talk to the person first before making assumptions about them, you may be judging a book by its cover without even realising it.
Also, I’m sure at one point we’ve all felt like our body needs a bit of TLC and therefore have chosen to be more mindful of what we put in it, some people just do it more often than others.
These points and more are summarised below in the top five things I wish people would stop saying about healthy eating/people that they perceive to do it.
1– It’s too hard/expensive to be healthy
It doesn’t need to be if you focus on veg, fruit, local protein (eggs/fish) and wholegrains (oats). Basic food such as these are not expensive, focus on these types of ingredients for the most part and give yourself some time, good habits will form, cravings will reduce and you’ll find it a lot easier.
£1.15 wholegrain pasta
First things first. Biohacking is a general term for using tips and tricks to alter/improve your biology to become your best and most efficient self.
This may sound a little like something from The Matrix but it’s growing in popularity and is showing some great benefits for people but other views need to be considered too.
How do I do it?
In order to biohack your biology most effectively, you’d be best getting a genetic/DNA test done that allows you to examine your genes and what your predisposed to but also if possible (as it’s not widely available yet) a microbiome analysis to see what your gut bacteria (and oral bacteria too) consist of and what this profile indicates in terms of your health.
For example, some DNA tests look at things like your caffeine metabolism, which indicates how well your body processes caffeine and can give you an indication as to whether it’s beneficial for you (helps you work out harder and therefore burn more calories) or would more likely have a negative impact (makes you jittery and less able to sleep). This could be helpful for people who for example, have anxiety issues and discover that they don’t react well to caffeine; hence reducing their intake may help reduce anxiety levels as they don’t feel as on edge.
Another example I have heard that has helped individuals is that some people don’t process alcohol as efficiently as others and therefore would need to monitor their consumption more closely. Knowing this allows you to take action against it for the times when you really want to partake in the celebrations and enjoy a drink, therefore taking something such as Milk thistle which is a great liver supporter, can help.
Knowing your genes and microbiome profile could also help people understand which diet would suit them best as some people may not process carbs as well as others and therefore a lower carb, higher protein/fat diet would work best for person A whereas person B has microbes and genes that can handle that plate of pasta just fine. This is where new information is beginning to explain why so many people often do better on one diet than another and react very differently to certain foods/diets than their friend.
So basically, knowing what your body struggles with can give you the information to improve your life, however, there are also some practical issues to consider and some potential downsides as well.
It’s one thing to know how your body will react to e.g. alcohol but it’s another to actually follow the steps for improvement. Many people already know their daily alcohol limits (x units per day) but most people still knowingly go over it, this becomes even harder in social situations where there may be pressure to throw caution to the wind.
If you knew that your body didn’t deal well with more than a small portion of carbs at a time would you still choose the lower carb option from the menu or would you order what you craved instead? Maybe it varies depending on your will power that day and how well you’ve stuck to your nutrition plan the rest of the week?
Would you want to know what your genes held for you or would you be happier remaining ignorant? A great example are people who have a history of heart disease in the family, would they really want to know that they’ve a gene that makes them predisposed to heart issues so that they could take steps to avoid/minimise this or would this just cause more anxiety which ironically, could negatively impact heart health anyway, or would they be better off not knowing?
How cost effective would these tests be and how often would they be required? The guts microbiome can change rapidly after serious illness/infection therefore would need to be retested to see if any major changes have occurred that could now have significant impact.
Life improvements and easy hacks
Below is a quick summary of the hacks and uses I’ve heard people already using this type of information for that has helped improved their life:
+Weight/gut issues-using fermented food and prebiotic fibres for gut health & diversity
+Know how to achieve fitness goals quicker e.g. possessing genes that respond better to resistance/weight training than cardio
+Provides more encouragement if you can’t yet see physical results but you can on cellular level e.g. positive changes to hormone levels or inflammatory markers
+Increasing insulin response to big meals by doing 1-2 minutes intense exercise beforehand
+Improving nutrient absorption/intake by consuming a specific food 1-2 times a month e.g. red meat for iron or B12 intake rather than a totally plant based diet
In summary, there are a lot advantages that biohacking can provide but making it practical for everyone to use on a regular basis comes with a lot of issues that need to be worked out first.
If you want to make self-improvements now without spending a fortune on DNA tests then simply start investing in your health such as eating more nutritiously, taking steps to increase your sleep and reduce stress and perform a variety of exercises to keep your body strong and not stuck in a rut.
Furthermore, If you’d like to improve your memory or brain health I’d recommend checking out the podcasts by Jim Kwik or if it’s gut health/diet you’re interested in, then I can’t recommend enough “The Diet Myth” by Tim Spector.
I’d really like to hear thoughts or experiences anyone has had with these issues or maybe you’ve had a test done already and found the results particularly insightful, if so, drop me a comment below, I’m very intrigued to hear thoughts on this topic.
Often in fitness you hear about trainers telling their clients to find their “why?”.
This means, find the reason why you started/wanted to get fitter because this will be what powers you through those last few difficult reps or will be what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning and do a workout even when you don’t want to.
I think this is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard and I wanted to turn it to food as well and share my whys with people in the hope that it inspires others to choose a homemade, more nutritious option over the easier, heavily processed version.
Firstly, let me explain that my biggest why is because when I don’t eat well I feel like crap and tend to suffer for it due to digestive and stomach issues. I’d also like to get stronger and put on some muscle which leads most people to believe that as long as I’m getting the calories to do so, that I should just eat whatever I want, however I don’t do this because:
A jujube. They’re like the dates cousin. They’re a soft, sweet fruit that originated from Asia. One difference I’ve noticed is that they’re not as sticky as other dried fruit which is actually a nice surprise because then you’re not scraping them off your teeth for an hour afterwards.
The jujube fruit is a rich source of Vit C and also contains small amounts of manganese, calcium and iron. It’s also packed with fibre, antioxidants and flavonoids such as quercetin and epicatechin (also found in green tea). Therefore they have traditionally been used to help keep a healthy immune system, provide energy and maintain a healthy digestive system, some compounds in the jujube can have a mild sedative action which explains why they’re also used as a night time tea.
These snacks have no added sugar, no chemical additives, are gluten and dairy-free, paleo, sulphite-free, and suitable for vegetarians and vegans.