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10 ways to deal with stress

ways to deal with stress

As mentioned in my last post, stress is and will be part of our lives. But what we need to get better at is how to increase our resilience and ensure we are not knocked off our feet and when if do get knocked off we can spring back up ready to dodge the bullets as Pedram Shojai, the creator of says. He also says that the Western culture is mistakenly thinking of mediation only once one is stressed and he funnily associates this with the practice of stretching after one’s pulled a muscle. In order to stay afloat it is important to look at these practices as a preventative cure.

Here are 10 ways to deal with stress that can help you build resilience. I would say 1-5 need to be looked at together in order to be effective (and it is what I practice) and 6-10 are additional ways that you can look at doing depending on what resonates best with you.

1.Eat right for stress

This means a diet high in plants based foods, with complex carbohydrates that release their energy slowly. On the other hand, refined carbohydrates and simple sugars (like table sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, dried fruit) flood the blood with glucose, increasing the production of cortisol. Some research has shown that combining your carbohydrates with protein provides additional adrenal support. You can do so by adding pulses (chickpeas, beans, hummus, almonds, hemp seeds, etc) to your meals.
It is important to add good fats to your diet as brain is 66% fat so it needs this in order to thrive. Specifically omega 3 (from chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin and walnut) and EPA and DHA that come from oily fish (mackerel, organic salmon, trout, sardines).
This will provide the backbone on which your body can thrive and ensure it is equipped to deal with stress.

2. Add a good quality vitamin and mineral support to your diet

All B vitamins are essential in energy production but they work synergistically with some minerals like zinc, chromium. It is imperative to add a good quality supplement to your diet because stress depletes your body of vitamins and minerals. Therefore, the belief that you are getting everything from your diet is a misconception, even when you eat organic. Vitamins and minerals are needed for every single body process.

It is not just about the quality of vitamins and minerals but it is about the quantity. Most supplements you find on the shelves nowadays are dosed for RDA’s (recommended daily allowance). These levels have been set to deal with nutritional deficiencies we had in the early 1900 and do not take into account the levels of stressors we are exposed today. For example, we don’t grow our own vegetables to be able to maximise the available nutrients by eating food straight after picking. For a good multivitamin complex check this out or my favourite which offers a complete solution is Patrick Holford’s supplements. Vitamin buddy offers personalised vitamins delivered straight to your door.

3. Avoid stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, sugary drinks

Choose instead natural stimulants like ginseng, ashwagandha, reishi, astralagus and rhodiola. You can find these in the form of tea of just tinctures which you can add to water and drink.

4. Develop a breathing practice

Before you dismiss this for airy fairy stuff here is the science at a glance. Conscious breathing activates the vagus nerve part of the parasympatitic nervous system which controls the heart, lung and digestive tract. Thoughts will come and go. Your objective is to not get involved emotionally and let them pass just as they come. You are an observer, you are listening but you are not getting involved in the conversation.

If you observe your body when stress hits you there are a few things that happen:  your shoulders have are rising getting closer to your ears, you clench your teeth together, your heart rate can increase, you sometimes hold your breath (unconsciously ) as if you are waiting for whatever is bothering you to pass. Whenever I feel this is happening to me I am immediately start to consciously breath.

What does conscious breathing mean? It is the act of breathing into your lower abdomen, inflating not just your ribcage but the area just below your belly button or naval. You can do a couple of breaths (as many as you need) the soon you realise you are getting stressed. Also, it is good to develop a practice that takes 5-10 min of your day to actively breath and therefore increase your resilience to stress.

Here’s one quick practice you can do
  1. Find a quiet space where you know you will not get disturbed. If you are in the office book a meeting room that has frosted windows or if the weather is nice just go outside. Sit in a comfortable position crossed legged on tall pillow with your knees reaching the floor (this will ensure that your spine sits tall and your body is supported from the root). The 2nd option is to just sit on chair with your feet touching the ground. Place your hands on your knees.
  2. Put your phone on airplane mode and set a timer for 5-10 min (you decide how much you want to dedicate, but I would suggest to always start small). This means incoming texts, emails will not distract you and your timer will let you know when the practice has finished. Choose a ringtone for your timer that is a bit more gentle (I use early riser on my iPhone).
  3. Take a deep breath in expanding your belly and sigh through the mouth. While this might sounds strange the act of sighing allows us to consciously letting go. You will immediately see your shoulders drawing down from your ears. If you are in the office and your meeting room is not soundproof, exhale with your mouth open as if you were trying to fog a mirror. On the next exhale do this with your mouth closed. In yoga this is called Ujjayi breath. Do this for 4 breaths.
  4. Now just inhale for a count of 4 and exhale for a count of 4 making sure the breath is nice and smooth and you inflate your abdomen on the inhale. Do this until your timer is up
  5. When you hear the timer, reach your phone in a slowly manner. Build off the quietness you just had. Before you go, bow your head towards yourself in gratitude that you took the time to look after yourself.
5. Exercise

When I say exercise I don’t mean going to gym and pump as hard as you can. Actually exercising when you are stressed might be worse for you. The reason behind it is because your adrenals are over exhausted and going hard with exercise will wear out your adrenals further. This can be seen more often in women than men. Start with a gentler pace, like walking in a park, yoga, tai chi, qigong. These are brilliant because they combine breathing with 360 movement which is important for relaxation and building strength and flexibility. Exercise is key in assisting in blood flow and helping detoxify the stress hormones.

6. Put your body in a relaxed state

Do something that you really enjoy or take up a hobbie. Yoga is my favourite and so many studios around to choose from. If you love dancing, enrol in some dancing classes or just boogie at home. Pick up drawing, or writing, cooking, or whatever makes you happy and relaxes your body.

7. The replacement strategy

Thinking and thoughts are a part of who we are. The objective is to develop a sense of gratitude and replace the negative thoughts with positive ones. Buy yourself a present: a nice journal which you can write at the end of the day 5 (or whoever many) things you are grateful for. Learn to notice the goodness in life and what works well. Just like breathing, this engages your pre-frontal cortex which deals with compassion and empathy. When you see the positive side your mood will be uplifted and as consequence your body will produce the “relaxation” hormones.

8. Journaling

Sometimes we have so many thoughts that we get overwhelmed and we don’t know how to manage them. Thoughts we have in the morning act like a constant distraction, affecting our level of focus. In the evening, thoughts act like a distraction from one of the most important tasks, sleep.

9. Connect with people, socialise.

Meeting with friends or trying to make friends will provide you not only with a support network but will ensure that you are releasing healthy serotonin levels.

10. Go back to nature

Spend as little as 20 min by either taking a stroll in the park before bed time (which will get you away from spending time in front of the TV and therefore exposing yourself to unnecessary blue light) or when you commute back from work walk back via a park (if this is possible and safe). The ideal scenario is when you take the time to walk, by feeling your feet touching the grass, moving the leaves away and breathing the fresh air.

Getting into the wild and finding the silence, peach, health and abundance of energy that comes from some concentrated time in the nature is critical so we can calibrate back to our essential selves (Pedram Shojai, The Urban Monk, 2016).

There is increasingly more evidence nowadays that linked time spent in nature with positive effects for our health . One such review shows that interaction with nature can increase self-esteem and mood, reduce anger, and improve general psychological wellbeing with positive effects on emotions and behaviour. These interactions can also have positive effects on cognitive function such as academic performance and the ability to perform mentally challenging tasks. Additionally, the same review suggests that interactions with nature may have physical health benefits such as stress reduction or reduced mortality rates as well as social, including facilitating social interaction or even reducing crime and violence in urban areas (Keniger et all, What are the benefits of interacting with Nature?, Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, 2013).

According to a study where participants who had their brains monitored continuously using mobile electroencephalogram (EEG), time spent outdoors shifted brainwaves from the default “beta” setting (12-40Hz, a stress-fuelled state of heightened alertness and linear thinking) into the “alpha” mode (8-12Hz), the light “meditative” frequency that bridges the unconscious world and conscious thinking (Aspinall P, Mavros P, Coyne R, et al, The urban brain: analysing outdoor physical activity with mobile EEG, Br J Sports Med 2015).

So why is the connection with the nature helping our emotional and mental wellbeing. There are multiple scientific reasons. It helps our brains settle into what scientists call the default mode network (or DMN). DMN is a complex circuit of coordinated communication between parts of the brain and is essential to mental processes that develop our understanding of human behaviour, instil an internal code of ethics, and help us realise our identities. Also, oxygen in the brain affects serotonin, the neurotransmitter that affects your mood, appetite, memory, social behaviour. Too much serotonin and you can become irritable and tense, but too little serotonin and you can become depressed. Breathing fresh air can therefore help regulate your levels of serotonin and promote happiness and wellbeing.


How stress is affecting us


It’s National Stress Awareness day on 1st of November and not that we need to be reminded about the fact that we get stressed every day but it gives me the opportunity to talk to you about my experience with stress and how stress is affecting us and our body. In my next blog post I will help you understand how you can manage stress, by looking at some of the things that helped me as well as what other ways that might help manage it.

Nowadays, stress feels part of our everyday life. In fact, 65% of people in work say they are affected by stress and mental health (AON wellbeing white paper, 2016). From being stuck in traffic, to commuting on a very crowded tube, to thinking what to have for dinner tonight, to having to decide what extracurricular classes we should get for our children, we are constantly bombarded with “irritations” or decisions we need to make. We constantly borrow energy from tomorrow to get through today. And tomorrow the story repeats until it gets us on a path of mental health issues.

How the body detoxifies when stressed

First of all, I need to manage your expectations that it is impossible to eliminate stress from our lives. It’s just part of who we are. Also, stress is good for our bodies as it puts in motion the different communication paths with the brain (the neurotransmitter path, the hormonal path, and the cytokines path or the messages from the immune system).

However, too much of anything leads to imbalances and the same applies to stress. While we all experienced stress at some point in our life, not everyone responds to stress in the same way. Certain genes make us more or less sensitive to stress. Our bodies have a gene called COMT which is involved in the metabolism and detoxification of stress hormones. For some of us it means that we might be born with a slower COMT enzyme which means that we are not able to detoxify/eliminate the stress hormones out of the body quickly enough. The fact that you might have a slower gene doesn’t mean that you need to live with the consequences. In fact, the environment inside the body is many times more important than the genes you have.

A healthy eating lifestyle is key in managing stress

There are so many new sources of research that link diet to mental health (Felice N. Jacka et all, A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial), 2017). Although only a trial and done on a small proportion, it statistically showed that people following a healthier diet reversed their depression vs people following only social support. For those sceptical natures out there who believe these findings will have to be replicated in a bigger and more representative sample before guidance and practice can be changed, I would like to point out that changing your diet will only improve your life and if there is a small group out there who have demonstrated that this has worked for them then I am game.

However, eating the right thing cannot be the only answer. Stress management and nutrition are interlinked and one influences the other. That is why you cannot address only one. Stress starts in the mind. If you have a healthy diet then your body is able to cope better with the effects of stress. However, if you are neglecting both mind and food then you could be faced with health issues.

The negative effects of stress

When you are faced with stress your adrenals start pumping hormones which essentially tell your body to send all of the energy (glucose) to your muscles. The energy to your vital organs is minimised. This includes your digestive system. In the days of hunting a stressful situation was when a predator was threating us. Now the jungle has become the big city and the stressful situations range from: quick, I need to get to work, to argh…profit margins have declined by 10% to why would the kids not go to sleep already and what I am going to cook tonight?

When the digestive tract gets energy pulled from it regularly to fight the stress, we start to see issues with poor absorption, nutrient deficiencies, constipation or loose stools, indigestion, bloating, fatigue. In addition, your body doesn’t have the energy it needs to rejuvenate, cleanse and repair. Have you ever thought you looked older after you had a period of stressful situations? I started to have white hair after 1 year spent in constant stress and I still consider myself a millennial (yes!).

Stress requires the release of glucose into your bloodstream which comes with the slump of energy. As the sugar hits the bloodstream, the pancreas releases insulin to transport it to the muscles With over exposure to stress the insulin is higher than the sugar available in the bloodstream. This also means that your body is craving glucose all the time. That is why when we are stressed we reach out for that sugar and we feel fatigued, tired. It is like a vicious circle.

Brain and neurotransmitters are made from amino acids from the protein we eat. But their production is depends on vitamins and minerals. The more stressed we are the more we consume our body’s resource of vitamins and minerals.

Stress shuts down parts of your brain, mainly the pre-frontal cortex which deals with , cognition, moral reasoning, decision making. It is the part of the brain which separates us from monkeys and deals with the negation of impulses. This is why we might not be able to perform well certain tasks. You start to forget things or deal with so called brain fog. This is why sometimes, in social situations we do things that otherwise we wouldn’t do.

During stressful situations your pituitary glande, adrenals, pancreas and liver work around the clock to pump out hormones to control glucose in your blood which sometimes you don’t even need. This leads your body being worn out to maximum.

Because most of the energy is concentrated on pumping glucose into your system your immune system is on holiday. So if you are coming across a virus or bacteria there are no troops to go and fight it. So consequently you get ill more often.

This is what happens biologically to our body. But of course, if you take into account the human factor which goes through several “what if” scenarios, playing and re-playing in out minds what could we have done better, why is that person so annoying that it decided to do something you didn’t like, was it me, was it him/her? And this is happening after the situation is long gone, when we cannot do anything about it. But we “love” living in the past, tormenting ourselves linking situations to emotions. We don’t get to “rest and digest” enough to bring the balance back.

Chronic stress leads to:

  • inflammation;
  • anxiety;
  • depression;
  • damaged hippocampus (the part of the brain that deals with short term memory and the one that gets damaged during Alzheimer’s disease);
  • reduced serotonin (the neurotransmitter that regulates mood);
  • thyroid imbalances;
  • loss of muscle

My story

Just like the majority of you , I also consider stress part of my everyday life. The double whammy with me is that I “like” to overthink things and I have the tendency to worry. Also, some would say (my husband in particular) that I am not able to relax properly. I blame my mum’s side and genes for this. Letting go is a principle I find hard to incorporate so for me, relaxation (of mind and body) is something I consciously need to strive for.

I have never felt I was properly dealing with stress until 1.5 years ago. It coincided with a job change, a promotion that I was waiting for such a long time. It was a brilliant opportunity which would have given me a lot of things to learn. For the first time in a long time the brand secured a great budget to be able to activate it for a relaunch and a great marketing campaign. At the same time I reached the conclusion that in the distant future I would want to fly solo and take my aim at opening my own business. I had planned to try a few things in whatever spare time I had.

It all sounded amazing and it was deemed to be an amazing year. I also have a very stubborn attitude (again quoting my husband); therefore, although it felt like an ambitious plan I was adamant that I wanted to pursue it (as I said, I am a stubborn individual).

The workload at my “9-5” job was getting out of hand and I was working  with a manager that was not able to cope with stress and felt unhappy in his job. In addition, my trait of I want to help and do the best job, coupled with the fact that I was not able to say “no” to new things took their tole. I was working until the late hours of the evening, commuting 3 hours a day, working while I was commuting; it felt like it was never stopping. I was tired, frustrated and depressed and the weekends felt like they were going in a flash.

It was not only affecting my health, but also my relationship with my husband and my business. My ambition of working on my business in my spare time was put on the side as I had no energy to left to do so. And this is where the overthinking didn’t help. Because I knew what I wanted to be doing in the future it felt that this experience I thought I will be getting was not worth it and better of to just jump the ship and leave now. Well, it wasn’t quite that easy. You see, when you are in a relationship with your decisions affecting the whole is not quite that easy to just leave. I had financial situations that I had to take into considerations and the happiness of other people. So i stuck with it. Things partly improved with my boss leaving the job but I was still  not quite happy as I felt I was “wasting” my time in  a job I was not passionate about and that my passion was laying somewhere else. I suppose it’s like being in love with someone else but you staying in the loveless relationship.

I wanted to share this with you because I am sure I am not a unique case and there are so many other people out there, dealing with worse things. However, I have made it the mission of my business (which I am currently working on) to empower people to achieve health everyday. So this is just a sneak peak of what is about to come. Also, stay tuned to the next blog where I am sharing a few ways of how to manage stress, methods that mostly I apply. But also, I have added some more methods to give a different perspective. While there are few steps that work synergistically (and therefore should be done together to achieve wellbeing), some methods will depend on how they resonate with you.

Wishing you health and love

Patricia x

Featured/ Nutrition

Why is organic better for us

Top 10 dirty foods in the UK

As some of you may know I have sent quite a few emails and pester social media posts to ask you to nominate me for 2017 Boom Awards Organic Food Blogger category…and I will continue to ask you to nominate me…nominations close on 31st March so no excuses to put in a nomination right?

Anyway, these awards got me thinking…I didn’t ever write about eating organic foods and why is it better to eat organic versus conventional foods.

My journey to becoming organic?

I have been eating organic for 4 years now. In my About section I mentioned that my journey to health started when, 6 years ago I really wanted to lose weight, because I felt I lost my fitness, I lost my self esteem as I didn’t take care of myself. 2 years into my ambition to become my fittest I was really struggling because I was not really making any progress. Researching into the potential reason for why I was struggling to lose weight I came across loads of cases of people saying that when they detoxified their bodies they started to lose weight. So, jackpot…I said to myself I need to limit the intake of toxins. At the time there was not as much choice in terms of organic food and felt that going through the traditional retail channel (ie. Supermarket) will be quite expensive. And my path crossed with a small food box delivery service, going by the name of Abel and Cole. I loved the fact that I could get veggies that looked similar to the ones I used to buy in the markets from Romania. I mean veggies that were not polished to death, not in plastic bags and all looking exactly the same.

What does organic mean?


  • An organic crop means that farmers are prohibited to use syhthetic chemical fertilisers (like N, KCl, superphosphate) and instead use organic fertilisers (manure, composts), use of legume crops in rotation (to increase soil N levels which is important for the plans to grow). I like to call these the old school of doing things, like my grandma used to do;
  • However, organic standards permit the use of certain plant or microbial extract and/or mineral (Cu and S based);
  • Organic crops tend to grow more slowly, and produce more of what scientists call secondary plant metabolites (ie. antioxidants, minerals);
  • However this also means that it’s not as reliable as conventional farming because if a pest was to hit if the crop is not able to “defend” itself then most likely the crop will be lost…and no mouths to feed;


  • Because of it being a highly regulated industry all organic foods are fully traceable so you will know where every ingredient comes from;
    – Hydrogenated fats and controversial artificial food colours and preservatives are banned under organic standards;


  • Crops are not modified genetically or animals are not fed GM foods;


  • Antibiotics are banned. Farm animals account for almost two-thirds of all antibiotics used in the EU and these are passed down to us through the food chain (Source: Soil Association, 2017);


  •  Organic animals must have access to pasture (when weather and ground conditions permit) and are truly free range;
  • Must have plenty of space – which helps to reduce stress and disease;
  • Graze and forage naturally on organic pasture (grasses and other crops) where only natural fertilisers are used and pesticides are severely restricted;

What is the current evidence around the benefits of organic food

There has always been a lot of controversy around the benefits of eating organic but there is a growing body of evidence now to suggest eating organic is beneficial for our health.
The key benefits to organic foods are:

  • The higher content of vitamins and minerals in organic food;
  • The negative impact of pesticides to health;
  • There are ecological and ethical grounds for supporting organic farming, which may be beneficial for supporting organic farming, which may be beneficial for soil health, water quality and the health of farmworkers and their families (Source: Mark F. McCarty, James J. DiNicolantonio, 2014).

1. Higher content of vitamins and minerals
A new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in February 2017 has shown that both organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, and a higher concentrations of certain essential minerals and antioxidants than conventionally produced products.

Omega-3s are linked to reductions in cardiovascular disease, improved neurological development and function, and better immune function. Western European diets are recognised as being too low in these fatty acids and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends we should double our intake.

Results from several mother and child cohort studies linking organic milk, dairy product and vegetable consumption to a reduced risk of certain diseases. This included reduced risks of eczema in babies.
In another study also published in British Journal of Nutrition in 2014 showed there are up to 60% higher in a number of key antioxidants than conventionally-grown crops, and contained less pesticides and less of the toxic metal cadmium, which is naturally occurring in the soil.
The concentrations of a range of antioxidants were found to be substantially higher in organic crops:

  •  Phenolic acid 19% higher
  • Flavanones 69% higher
  • Stilbenes 28% higher
  • Flavones 26% higher
  • Flavonols 50% Higher
  • Anthocyanins 51% higher

These have been linked to a reduced risk of chronic disease (CVD – cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease and certain cancers in dietary interventions and epidemiological studies. A recent meta-analysis has reported that a 10mg/d increase in flavonoid intake is associated with a 5% reduction in cardiovascular disease. However the same study did not find that there was a significant increase in certain vitamins and minerals. What you will have to remember is that these are really big studies, done across many years to be able to assess significant differences in accordance with action standards set by researching agencies. This is why sometimes I am frustrated by the constant need to demonstrate something. Some of these studies were conducted in 2009 and at the time the results were not the same. It took another 8 years of researching to be able to then conclude what sometimes for me feels the obvious…food grown properly and taken care of should in theory be better for you…as I always used to say to my mum: “your food tastes a lot better when you make it with passion and love”:).

2. Negative impact of pesticides on health
In the same study the frequency of occurance of pesticides residues was 4 times higher in conventional crops (mainly in fruits vs vegetables) and there were higher concentrations of toxic metal cadmium (48% higher) in conventional crops.

The higher NO3 and NO2 (both synthetic pesticides) concentrations in conventional crops is also nutritionally not desired as they have been described to be risk factors for stomach cancer and methaemoglobinaemia in humans. Greater accumulation of cadmium is associated with reduced fertility in both men and women.

Recent study showing that high level of certain types of pesticides may contribute to the increasing incidence of food allergies in westernised societies (Jerschow E, McGinn AP, de Vos G, et al, 2012, Dichlorophenol containing pesticides and allergies, results from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005-2006).

There is a growing body of evidence that highlights a positive association between certain types of cancer and exposure to pesticides and contaminants in epidemiological studies (Alavanja MCR, Ross MK & Bonner MR, 2013, Increased cancer burden amongst pesticides applicators and other due to pesticides exposure; Alavanja MCR, Ross MK, 2012, Occupational pesticide exposures and cancer risk: a review; Lebailly P, Niez E & Baldi I, 2007, Epidemiological data on the relationship between cancer and pesticides; Nasterlack M, 2007, Pesticides and childhood cancer: an update).

Top dirty foods

By dirty foods I mean foods that are most frequently found with pesticides. In the UK there is a government body who’s job is to test foods in the UK against pesticides used. They check for residues of pesticides above the reporting level, pesticides above the MRL level (maximum residue level set by the EU) and traces of multiple pesticides residues.

There is still scientific controversy about the safety of some currently permitted pesticides even at levels below MRL and complex mixtures of pesticides as safety testing of pesticide mixtures is currently not required as part of the regulatory pesticide approval process. But again, I will make my point around the frustration of having to have endless data to demonstrate something which for me instinctively feels rights. If all our food is tempered with pesticides, and we live a stressful life in a polluted area, with our bodies less effective to detoxify then why do we need to allow ourselves to eat low quality food. They take samples of different foods from across the UK from British supermarkets to form a representative sample. However, not every year they take all available fruits and veg. Not sure if this driven by money they have available to spend on the research.
According to the latest annual report (2015)Pesticide Residues Monitoring Results in the UK 58.39% of samples contained residues at or below the MRL. 5.05% of samples contained residues over the MRL. I have taken the annual report because it takes into consideration a much wider variety of foods. The list of offenders is below presented in the order of most frequently found with pesticides above the reporting levels. However it is missing some ingredients like strawberries and tomatoes which we frequently consume.

  1. Wheat (96% of samples have been found to contain pesticides above the reporting level)
  2. Blackberries (95%)
  3. Pears (94%)
  4. Pineapple (92%)
  5. Brussel sprouts (76%)
  6. Mango (73%)
  7. Apples (67%)
  8. Salad (63%)
  9. Beans in pods (62%)
  10. Celery (60%)
  11. Peppers (60%)
  12. Chilli (54%)
  13. Radish (54%)
  14. Melon 53%
  15. Potatoes 53%
  16. Blueberries 46%
  17. Aubergine/Courgette 44%
  18. Okra 41%
  19. Broccoli 32%
  20. Peas 24%
  21. Ginger 15%

Top 5 foods with pesticides

The committee has also a quarterly reporting and according to the latest report (Q3’16). In this case the Top 10 is:

  1. Grapes (100%)
  2. Peaches (98%)
  3. Apricots (97%)
  4. Strawberry (96%)
  5. Apple (92%)
  6. Pears (83%)
  7. Beans in pods (58%)
  8. Tomatoes/Okra (56%)
  9. Peppers (47%)
  10. Leek (35%)

Given the big picture, lots of experts say that, from a health perspective, what you eat matters more than whether you choose organic or conventional. However, considering that the current environment where we live we are exposed to stress and pollution which we cannot really avoid and the fact that we don’t always have the time to exercise I believe that at least something we can control is the food we eat and maximise the level of nutrients we get.

One important point to conclude on…not all organic food is great food. You still have fairly processed foods that are organic but contain for example emulsifiers, disguised sugars (brown rice malt, concentrated grape juice). It took a few chemical process to get to these ingredients. Also, just because those blueberries are organic but come from Chile doesn’t make them great. Fresh foods lose a lot of their nutrients from the moment they are picked. Now think about how long they have been transported, how long have they been on shelf before they get into our mouth. I have always been a promoter of eating locally and organic because this means you eat in season and you maximise the level of nutrients you get in a day and age where quality of air, soil and water it’s not at it’s best.



7 simple ways to DETOX your Body and Mind

Wow, a year has passed and 2017 is now upon us. With a new year comes a new blog post on how to bring us back into health. So here I am writing about 7 simple ways to detox your body and mind that will prepare us for the year ahead. You will also find out your detox potential, what you can do to accelerate your health potential and simple swaps that will keep you on track for wellness.

So, what does detox actually mean for you? For some is extreme 7 day juicing, for some is going to some expensive 5 day retreat in the Dolomite’s to not eat much and have colonic hydrotherapy once a day. But in truth detoxing has been here for hundreds of years. People use to fast for either short periods of time or long periods of time to achieve spiritual cleansing. So in simple words detoxing is removing toxins from our body and bring it back to its naturally healthy state.


Here’s a list of questions that can help you work out if you need to improve your detox potential:

  • Do you often suffer from headaches or migraines?
  • Do you have dark circles under your eyes?
  • Do you sometimes have earache, drainage from ears or ringing in the ear?
  • Do you often suffer from stuffy nose or sinus problems?
  • Do you suffer from acne or skin rashes?
  • Do you sometimes have joint or muscle aches or pains? why
  • Do you find it hard to lose weight or if underweight find it hard to put on weight?
  • Do you often have a bitter taste in your mouth or a furry tongue?
  • Do you suffer from bloating

If you answered yes to 4 or more questions you will really benefit from improving your detox potential.

If you answered between yes between 2 or 4 times you are showing signs of poor detoxification.


About 80% of the chemical processes happening in the body involves detoxifying harmful chemical. Much of this is done by the liver – sometimes called the chemical brain of the body.
The liver detoxifies by sticking things on to them (enzymes) so that they are ready to be eliminated from the body in a process called conjucation. Vitamins and minerals play a vital role in supporting the liver in this process. The majority of our diet is full of refined foods unfortunately depleted by nutrients and not enough plant based foods.


1. Keep calm and drink water

We can survive without food for several days but we can survive without water only for a few days. Without water our organs start to fail, because water helps circulate nutrients around the body and flushes out toxins. So the more we drink the more we flush out the bad stuff…

I tend to drink filtered water in the morning and early afternoon as this helps cleanse and flush the system and mineral water in the afternoon to deliver minerals to the body and give me a revitalising effect.

In 24 hours we lose 1.5 litres in urine, 750ml through skin, 400ml in the breath, 150ml in faeces. A total of 2.8 l per day. So drinking 2 l of water per day (8 large glasses) is optimal according to research (Source: S.M. Kleiner,  Journal of American dietetics association).

One way to make water a bit more fun to drink is either by using a fruit infuser water bottle  or just add a few drops of lemon or orange juice for a citrus kick to your plain water. The rule is: pick a fruit and add a herb or spice or both to create your personal combination. Some of my favourite combinations are Cucumber and Mint, Grapefruit and Rosemary, Lemon, ginger and green tea which are known to also help detox your body.

2. Eat plenty of …fruits and veggies

More and more research shows that eating plant based foods is beneficial to our health. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals which as I shown you before are vital in helping your body, specifically your liver to properly eliminate toxins. More around the benefit of fruits and vegetables will come in my future sessions.

Some of veggies known for their detoxifying properties that you can get your hand now in the UK as they are still in season: chicory, broccoli (try some purple sprouting variety too which you can find in Whole Foods or at farmers markets or tender stem and normal broccoli which are widely available are fine too), red cabbage, beetroot, horseradish (which works amazingly grated over beetroot), chillies, garlic and sprouted tops (which are actually the leafy tops of Brussel sprouts which unfortunately I haven’t seen in supermarkets but I get them through my Abel and Cole delivery).

3. Eat in moderation…

Grains – like quinoa, brown rice, millet, etc. These are important sources of complex carbohydates or slow releasing carbohydrates which provide more sustained energy than the refined grains. Also most of these contain no or little gliadin, a known intestinal irritant which means it gives your body to focus on what it needs rather than fighting allergens. Not to say they contain more nutrients compared to refined grains.

Oily fish – important source of complex fats from the omega 3 family fats (EPA and DHA) which are converted in the body in prostaglandins, essential for brain function, control blood cholesterol, increase immune function, reduce inflammation. Mackerel contains 10 times more EPA and DHA per serving than swordfish or white fish.

Cold pressed olive and seed oils – good sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats again essential for brain and nerve function. These are very unstable at heat and light so keep in dark bottles away from heat and only use as salad dressings. Olive oil is best for cooking as more stable and doesn’t oxidise as much.

Seeds and nuts – as above but in addition to their oils they also contain minerals.

4. Limit…

The protein gluten contains gliadin, a known intestinal irritant. A small amount can be tolerated but post people in Britain consume wheat in the form of biscuits, toast, bread, cereals, cakes, pastry, pasta at least 3 times a day. There is also the problem of phytates found in the outer hull of the grain – helping it not sprout until confiditions are right. These block the absorbption of calcium, magnesium, zinc in the gut.

Protein: the average Briton eats over 900g of meat in a week. Animal protein puts a lot of strain on your digestive system. It takes 24h sometimes to completely digest protein. Also, unfortunately due to the current intensive farming in order to ensure high yield animals are fed antibiotics and hormones. Another issue with animal protein is also the high content of saturated fat.

Dairy: although the UK represents only 20% of the EU population we consume 40% of it’s dairy products with an average weekly intake of four pints of milk. Think about yourself: first thing in the morning is a latte or cappuccino (at least 250ml of milk), porridge or cereal with milk and or yogurt, lunch will be soup which contains cream or milk for taste or salad or a main meal which will contain either cheese, or cream or milk, another few coffees and teas and then dinner. The truth is is that many minerals are found in higher levels in fruits and vegetables and also it has also higher levels of oestrogen than normal. Hormones are good for us, but diet reliant of food that is pumped with additional hormones brings imbalance through oestrogen dominance.

I know myself how difficult it is to limit or not eat at all some of these….so here I’ve put a simple list of swaps.

So, the most difficult thing that I found giving up was bread…but then I found sourdough rye bread. It’s absolutely delicious and it has less gliadin than the wheat counterpart, as well as sprouting ensures that phytates (which prevent the digestive system absorbing several essential nutrients) are mostly neutralised. Also, always choose a product for a good bakery as this ensures you don’t have the other 20 ingredients to keep the bread on the shelf for longer.

How about pasta…I love pasta! The good news is that there are so many more alternatives out there which are making it onto the supermarket shelves. My favourites are sprouted  spelt pasta or buckwheat noodles.

An alternative to the morning bacon sandwich? How about my mushroom egg breakfast?

Milk…I like having milk with my coffee (which I usually have as a treat) but everything else I like to choose almond milk. It doesn’t have the hormones but it has all the nutrients.

Cheese? I would always swap cheddar for goats cheese…goats cheese has less lactase and therefore easier to digest.

4. Avoid…

Refined Sugar, Caffeine, Alcohol and Saturated fat. From a nutritional perspective these do not help your body but mainly are “chemicals” that your body is trying to remove once ingested.

Ok, sugar would be a tough one to avoid. BUT, so many great alternatives out there which are much better for you. How about swapping milk chocolate for dark chocolate. Or if you are stuck for a snack why not try my energy protein balls? Or Pip and Nut squeeze pack?

Energy protein balls

How to swap that morning coffee? Well…my new discovery is turmeric latte…a blend of amazingly fragrant turmeric, cinnamon, honey and almond milk with all the goodness that comes with it.

How about alcohol…well, again a new discovery but Seedlip  is a drink using the art of herbal remedies to now produce a non alcoholic spirit from spices or from herbs.

5. Remove toxic minerals…

ALUMINIUM is widespread in food packaging and beauty packaging but not all aluminium will enter the body. It leaches into the water when we heat something acidic like tea, tomatoes or rhubarb. The more zinc deficient we are the more we will absorb. It tends to bind to essential vitamins and mineral and research has shown to be linked to kidney problems in babies and behavioural problems and autism in older children (Lodge Reese, 1979 – aluminium toxicity as indicated by hair analysis – journal of orthomolecular psychiatry). While plenty of studies have shown increased accumulation of aluminium in people with alzeihermer disease what isn’t clear is weather this is a cause or a consequence of disease.

CADMIUM – cigarette smoke (directly inhaled or passively inhaled, refined grains and have also been found in shellfish from polluted waters. Greater accumulation of cadmium is associated with reduced fertility in both men and women.

COPPER – is both an essential element and a toxic one. Exposure from copper comes from water pipes, jewellery , swimming pool anti-fungal agents – so we tend to have too much of it rather than too little. Excess copper can be good as it thought to be a stimulus for the uterus when a women falls pregnant but it is also thought to be linked with miscarriages, post natal depression, anxiety and paranoia when it’s found in excess in the bloodstream. Hair mineral analysis of student hair samples revealed that high copper concentration was in kids that had aggressive behaviour, hyperactivity and poor attention span.

LEAD – exposure from petrol (banning lead in petrol campaign by the institute of optimum nutrition), water contaminated by lead piping, flaking paint, paint dust, pesticides, cosmetics. Excess lead is related to behavioural problems and IQ (numerous studies studied this relationship).

MERCURY – exposure fish (the larger and fattier) and tooth fillings (Sweden have banned mercury fillings for pregnant women).
You can easily test for your own mineral level with a hair mineral analysis.

6. Move your achy bones

At least 15 min per day and keep it gentle…ease into it.  Exercise is like an oil to a machine. It helps improve blood flow and send those vital nutrients to your body and then collects the toxins from the liver to push them quickly out. Exercise doesn’t need to be strenuous to be beneficial. To begin with, focus on getting regular exercise into your routine. Get off the tube station a station earlier and walk home, walk to the train station or to the office from rather taking the bus, take the stairs in the tube or in the office. When I feel stressed and I don’t have the energy to do a HIIT workout I love doing yoga. The beauty of the digital world which we live in currently is that you don’t need to have a personal trainer or attend classes if you don’t have the time or money. Here’s a quick link to a yoga session I sometimes do.

7. Breath

But most importantly breathe….
Take 5-10 min to go out and take some really good breaths, inflate your chest and belly and exhale either with your mouth open or through your nose (whatever works for you).
Escape into a meeting room or the wellness room and put your feet up the wall and breathe. Breathing is the most powerful way to de-stress and clear your mind. This in turn lower the cortisol level to enable your body to function properly rather than thinking it’s in fight mode every time.

Nutrition/ Quick meals/ Snacks

Avocado hummus

Watching TV or when I have friends around I like to have something to snack around. Usually snacking is associated with unhealthy things but there are so many other alternatives that are good for you as well. So I am sharing my recipe for avocado hummus which you guessed it it’s incredibly good for you…food for your body and for your soul I dare to say. It’s also such a versatile dip as you can have it with celery sticks, slices of fresh walnut rye sourdough, olives or one of my favourites is fresh romaine leaves which look like a scoop perfect to hold the hummus. Why not add also a baba ganoush to have a complimentary dip to your platter? Coincidently I have a recipe for this as well…posted a few months ago:).

By now you got used to the next section of health benefits and this one is no different. Continue Reading…

Breakfast/ Nutrition

Bircher Porridge

Blood orange bircher porridge

Porridge is almost a British institution…you associate it with British culture (especially if you live on the island like me:) ), but in actual fact it is present in other menus (US, Thailand with the savoury porridge called jok).

It’s an incredibly nutritious breakfast. Usually made out of oats (however you can make it out of other grains like quinoa, millet, amaranth, etc) which contain multiple nutrients (like potassium which regulates blood pressure, hormone and water balance or magnesium which helps with the DNA repair) as well as a water soluble fibre that plays a role in reducing “unhealthy” cholesterol and prevents spikes in blood sugar levels making it a perfect meal for people suffering from diabetes. Oats are easy to digest and useful to relieve upset stomach. Continue Reading…


10 simple principles of healthy eating

Healthy eating

Is this the year of healthy eating?

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you! May the new year bring you all the fulfilment and happiness you desire and may all your wishes come true.
With a new year come new resolutions for the year ahead! Have you set yours? For the first time I have thought far more about where I want to be next year. It is my belief that if you don’t really think about where you want to get to you will never be able to achieve your dreams because everything will just become a very foggy map. Just think about really mapping out where you want to go to and you will be far more accountable for the milestones by the end of the year (think this is very much my inner self talking to me as well :P). Continue Reading…