Looking for presents for the “health nutters”?

These days everyone knows at least one vegan, gluten free, paleo or any other health/eco “nutter” (aka a person into healthy lifestyle). They can be a real pain at the dinner table or when thinking of presents… In case you needed some last minute Christmas gift ideas, you’re in luck! The limit is only the depth of your wallet.


  • Obviously – some health foods! You could make up a whole hamper with chia seeds, coconut oil, spirulina, acerola powder, coconut jerky, lucuma powder, kale crisps, goji berries, herbal teas, freeze dried fruit, yacon syrup, coconut sugar – or just pick one for a healthy stocking filler! Look for some dairy free or raw chocolates while you’re at it.

  • Exotic fruit basket – make one yourself or order online, and include weird fruits like starfruit, guava, tamarind, jackfruit, mangosteen, durian, cherimoya, lychee, rambutan, longan, prickly pear, papaya, kumquat, dragon fruit and all sorts! Fun, tasty and educational.

  • A piece of natural skincare – be it hand cream, body lotion, hand wash, lip balm, bath soak, beard oil or after shave – if they are into healthy stuff (and appropriate needs), they’ll be very pleased.

  • Health-oriented book is a great idea – look for healthy recipe books such as Deliciously Ella, Oh She Glows, The World of the Happy Pear, Thug Kitchen etc. It helps if you are familiar with the person’s specific interests – a vegan might not be very happy with a paleo cookbook and vice versa.

  • A steel or glass water bottle or a lunch box – to help reduce plastic and its contact with food and water. It does matter, especially in hormonal issues!

  • A water filter – either integrated with the bottle, the one for the kitchen or for the shower (especially if they are suffering from skin problems).

  • A bottle of essential oil – for instance, lavender if they need relaxation and sleep, peppermint if they need a bit of stimulation, eucalyptus if having stuffy nose at this time of the year… A diffuser or an oil burner might go well with that.

  • Bamboo, organic cotton, hemp or linen socks or a hand towel! Natural, eco-friendly fabrics are great for sensitive skin.

  • A spiralizer – to cut those veggies into different shapes and sizes and make them look tastier! You could even pair it with a spiralizing book.

  • A nut milk (or mylk) bag – for them to make tasty almond, cashew or tiger nut (it’s a little nutty tuber, not a part of a real tiger!) milk. And of course, feel free to get them some of the nuts too.

  • A ceramic knife – a little “friendlier” piece of kit for fruits and veg. In some cultures it’s seen as bad luck to give sharp objects as presents, so make sure your healthy friend is not superstitious!

  • Sports gear – depending on the person, it could be a yoga/pilates mat, various weights such as kettlebells, a ball, a racket, pull up bar, suspension trainer etc. If they are not very sporty yeat – a gym membership or a personal trainer session might inspire and broaden their mind.
  • Squatty potty. (Just google it).

  • If you’re feeling a bit more generous – there are slow juicers, blenders, food processors, dehydrators, slow cookers, pressure cookers and gadgets like Thermomix!

  • If you’re still unsure, just get them a health food shop voucher – they’ll choose for themselves. A nutritional therapy consultation might be very well received too!

I hope you’ve found something suitable from the list (maybe even for yourself?). I know I would be happy with any of those (probably with the exception of the beard oil), just in case anyone was wondering 😉


Why do we have nutrient deficiencies?

Obviously, it’s not the same for everyone: we have different lifestyles, finances, different eating habits, favourite foods, different absorption/malabsorption and different needs due to our genetics and state of health. But there are a few basic reasons.


Foods that we eat are depleted. Mono-culture grown crops with artificial fertilizers probably optimize their growth but that’s about it – the most common formula is NPK, adding only Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. We need more than that! Soil used over and over loses its mineral content, they are washed off by erosion, and there is no added organic matter (like compost) to return those minerals.

Food storage reduces the nutrient content even more. Foods, especially if shipped from far, continuously lose their nutrient value and oxidise while sitting in the box or on the shelf. By the time they reach your table they are far from fresh (imagine how old your flour is, for example). That’s why there can be massive differences in nutrient content between foods – it just depends!

We don’t eat the variety of foods. And when I say we don’t, I mean none of us do, even the most chia and matcha “hipsters”. We eat what is available in the shops, aka what the commercial companies decide we’re supposed to eat – what grows easily, what keeps well, what’s more profitable. Every year amazing heirloom vegetable and fruit varieties are lost just because no one grows them. Even family farmers grow what everyone is used to and what they can sell easily.

We restrict our diets. It’s either dieting, disliking certain healthy foods, going vegetarian by simply eliminating meat and not including healthy alternatives (crisps are vegetarian…) or going gluten-free without any medical reason – it all restricts our nutrient intake.

We’re not eating enough healthy foods. Processed foods lose nutrients even further (that’s why so many of them need preservatives – they literally go off, not just lose their vitamins). Not only that, some of the foods and their ingredients are damaging to our health, so our bodies use nutrients to process those harmful foods and to reduce the damage (isn’t it ironic?).

We live stressful lives. And “stress” is not only your general “busy lifestyle” stress, but all the environmental toxins that we eat, drink, inhale, put on our bodies, all the excessive or insufficient exercise, overweight, electromagnetic pollution, already mentioned processed foods or just being unhappy in life. All these stresses require nutrients from the body and can leave us depleted.

– We are not even aware that we’re low in something! I’m mind-blown by the human body – it can take so much battering and still function. Usually, it catches up with us at some point but by then it’s not just a deficiency anymore but a full blown illness and we don’t even make the connection. Just saying, we don’t have any medication deficiency.

So what to do?

– If you’re not sure, do some testing! Speak to me and we can discuss your needs.
– It’s so common that if you think your diet isn’t perfect I would look into a good quality multi-mineral (and/or multi-vitamin) supplement. I can help you choose the most suitable one for you.
– Eat minimally processed foods.
– Buy organic.
– Buy at farmer’s markets and directly from farmers.
– Better yet, grow your own!
– Eat a variety of foods, research and source rare and unusual plants. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new foods.
– Try to maintain a healthy relationship with food.
– Minimize unhealthy habits, such as smoking (including second-hand), alcohol, recreational drugs, non-organic skincare and household supplies.
– Do some exercise and reach your ideal weight.
– Find a balance in life, reducing all kinds of stress.
– Eat more greens! You can also include “superfood” powders such as spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass, moringa, kelp etc.

Please don’t make any dietary changes and/or take any supplements without speaking to a qualified health specialist, especially if you’re on any medication.


Organic sugar is still sugar

I must admit I love organically grown produce for quite a few reasons: lower environmental impact, no GMOs, less chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers on the products, higher antioxidant content and if eating animal products, organic means higher welfare standards and no antibiotic overuse.

However, it’s easy to get an illusion that everything that’s organic is somehow better. Then you can buy crisps and sweets that are organic, organic pastries and cakes, organic fudge and soft drinks. And they may be “better” to some extent: the materials used probably caused less environmental damage as it was grown organically, promoting wildlife, not using bee-killing pesticides etc.

Also, these products will probably (or hopefully) be made by ethical businesses that invest in charitable causes and are more respectful of the environment, so you are supporting them over the big mainstream companies that only care about more and more profit.

But health-wise, there is no big difference between organic and non organic sugar or vegetable oil. For example, these substances are so processed that they don’t have anything else but a simple carbohydrate and fat, respectively, with no nutritional benefits and with possible health-damaging effects long term. The same can be said about almost all processed foods and white flour products.

A piece of non-organic fruit or veg is much more nutritious and beneficial than “the most organic” sweets, even if they had added vitamins, minerals, “superfoods” or friendly bacteria. I recommend reducing processed foods to a minimum, organic or not. And if you do buy them organic, be honest with yourself – it’s not any healthier!



How to use sugar without harming your health

Yes, that’s true, you can use sugar AND have a perfectly good health. And I’ll tell you how.

  • Use it to exfoliate your face and body with home-made sugar scrub. You can make it as simple or as fancy as you please.
  • Use sugar to clean the grease off your hands after dealing with oily, greasy substances.
  • If you tend to remove hair anywhere from your body, make your own (incredibly easy) sugar wax.
  • If you like painted nails, try sugar nail art. Make sure you use natural nail polish.

I think you get the idea… Just don’t eat it! 🙂 Do you know of any other fun uses for sugar?


Plantiful Nutrition meets Brian Clement

It was an enjoyable seminar led by Brian Clement from Hippocrates Health Institute earlier this week. A definite food for thought!


Hippocrates aims to educate people and help their bodies heal themselves with the power of raw foods, particularly greens and sprouts. As hard as this diet may seem, most of us can improve our health by adding these nutrient rich foods into our daily meals.



Are potatoes bad for you?

Yes and no.

Yes, because usually we eat them in the form of chips or crisps which means they are fried in the doubtful quality oil and have loads of salt. If you’re buying frozen chips or eating them in the pub or restaurant, the chances are they will be highly processed and with lots of additives. Either way, most of the time we have them cooked at high temperatures (too high for too long and carcinogens, such as acrylamide, start forming). Also, many potato products have high glycemic index. And almost always we peel the skin. For these reasons, potato is not even considered a vegetable by many nutritionists.

But no, they are not bad for you. It just depends on how you prepare and eat them. The best way to cook potatoes is lightly steaming – using a minimum amount of water and not throwing it away if there’s any left (water soluble compounds stay exactly there – in the water). Ideally, don’t fry or microwave them and don’t eat them mashed, especially don’t use instant mash (higher GI). Baking is the second best thing but try using lower temperature. And don’t get rid of the skin – that’s where all the fun is! Oh, and don’t eat green potatoes.

The humble potato actually contains a good amount of vitamin C (yes, that’s right!) and a great amino acid profile (surprise – potato has protein!). On top of that it contains B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, iron and obviously fibre. Spuds have lots of energy-giving carbohydrates, and contrary to common belief, not a lot of sugar (as long as you don’t overprocess it)! It fills you up and it’s cheap! What’s there not to like?

There’s even someone eating only potatoes for the whole year – and losing weight! Fair enough, he’s also eating sweet potatoes which are also great. Not that I recommend this particular diet [it’s just interesting as an experiment]! Variety is the key, and there are so many healthful foods out there. Are potatoes better than kale? Hm, probably not. But it doesn’t mean that potatoes don’t belong in the healthy diet.



Fat is good or fat is bad?

To live we need to obtain certain types and amounts of nutrients from our diet. For example, we need fat. Actually, we need essential fatty acids. How much? Not that much. Around 3% of our total calories of omega-3 and omega-6, preferably in the ratio of 1:1 to 1:4 . Probably way less than what we are consuming now.


Around a week ago National Obesity Forum released a report encouraging to reduce carbohydrate and increase fat consumption (including saturated fat). Generally, we are advised not to eat too much saturated fat (and limit total fat), so this goes against healthy eating guidelines. NOF report’s authors’ reasoning was that “Current efforts have failed – the proof being that obesity levels are higher than they have ever been, and show no chance of reducing despite the best efforts of Government and scientists.”

And that sort of makes sense. If we live in the society where 71% of people are predicted to be overweight or obese by 2025, if we need charities specifically to tackle obesity AND we’ve been implementing weight loss and health promoting strategies for the past four decades it means we are in trouble and something is not working.

However, I don’t think it’s the guidelines. Quoting dr Mike Knapton from British Heart Foundation (BHF): “This country’s obesity epidemic is not caused by poor dietary guidelines; it is that we are not meeting them.” We are simply not following the advice we’re given! And it’s not just the high levels of fat we’re consuming. It’s also sugar and other junk foods and soft drinks. However, carbohydrates from whole foods and added processed sugar are completely different and shouldn’t be used interchangeably.

Can’t you remember what happened with the last widely popular low carb diet aka Atkins? It’s the same fad all over again. It’s no surprise medical community didn’t approve of this “evidence”. As I mentioned, we do need some essential fat but going high fat is not going to help anyone’s health.




Low in iron? See what you can do

In nutritional therapy we try to improve client’s symptoms but more importantly, we want to figure out why they are there. If you have low iron levels in body, you should consider possible reasons.


  • Do you eat lots of processed foods and dairy? Fast and junk foods are low in nutrients such as iron while dairy (as well as high calcium) can interfere with iron absorption.
  • Do you drink tea and coffee with meals? Both of them can significantly reduce iron absorption.
  • Not enough greens, beans, nuts and seeds and other iron sources? If you’re on a veggie diet, is it well planned?
  • Could it be absorption issues (so many possible gastrointestinal conditions)? Especially suspect it if you’re not vegetarian/vegan, as heme iron in animal foods is generally absorbed easily. If you’re a man with low iron, investigate it, as iron is usually well recycled in the body and you don’t have monthly losses.
  • Could you have internal bleeding that depletes your stores (e.g. long term aspirin use) or do you suffer from heavy menstrual flow (again, why could that be the case?)?
  • Do you donate blood too often (yes, that does happen)?
  • Do you take high doses of supplemental zinc (or calcium)? It can reduce iron absorption.
  • Could it be low thyroid function? Hypothyroidism could be suspected and vice versa when iron levels are low.
  • Do you have an active infection or are you under high level of stress? Are you pregnant? This could show lower Haemoglobin levels but doesn’t necessarily mean you’re iron deficient. You should still look into it!

Either way, make sure the tests investigate not only your Haemoglobin but also serum Ferritin (ideally, serum Transferrin saturation, serum Iron and Total Iron-Binding Capacity as well).

If you’ve been recommended to take iron supplements, find a good quality one and have your levels re-checked in 3 months. Don’t just look for 1-a-day tablet – see what (elemental) iron levels are in it and what form of iron it is. Iron bisglycinate is generally well absorbed but you can also find food state iron (which I personally prefer).

Diet-wise, make sure you consume iron rich foods with vitamin C rich foods. And remember, vitamin C is not just in oranges! Greens, bell peppers, berries, fresh herbs and other fruit and veg are great sources. Green smoothies might be a good idea – you can chuck anything you like in there!

Cooking in cast iron pots and pans can also increase iron levels in the meal, especially if the food is quite acidic (e.g. cooked using tomato sauce).

Have a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses once in a while – it’s rich in iron as well as calcium, magnesium and potassium. I encourage using it as a sweetener (instead of sugar, not on top!) rather than a food – in porridge, when making your own granola, sweetening beverages or in baking.

Avoid eating iron-rich foods with dairy, tea, coffee, bran or other isolated fibre.

And ideally, address the root cause!

P. S. Check out the Lucky Iron Fish


Update: Plantiful Nutrition available in person!

I’m happy to announce that from now on you can book nutritional consultations in Cirencester Ashcroft Practice. It’s a pleasure to join a team of qualified natural practitioners with a wide range of therapies and knowledge. The appointments can be made by contacting me or the practice.

Look out for some special introductory offers!