It is Organic September so there is no better time for us to look at the food we are eating and evaluate whether it is serving us and our family and where improvements can be made.

Food isn’t just fuel it plays a huge role in protecting your body from the stresses of our environment and providing key nutrients to support our immune system and digestive health.

So ahead of the winter months where we know are much more likely to get ill and run down due to our slower metabolisms, less sunshine and less vitamin rich diets it is time to set some good intentions and potentially make some changes. A great one if making the move to Organic. 

I am not sure if you are familiar with Zach Bush, an American doctor, endocrinologist and thought leader on the microbiome who has highlighted the need for a radical departure from chemical farming and pharmacy through his work.

Although USA based he states some scary statistics such as : 

“By 2011, our Centre’s of Disease Control (CDC) was reporting 54% of US children with some form of chronic disorder or disease by the age of seventeen.”

And that..

“The epidemic is not at all limited to children. In adults a broad array of conditions have been on a steady rise, from depression and anxiety all the way to celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, multiple sclerosis, ALS), Alzheimer’s in women, and Parkinson’s in men. 

All on near identical trajectories of increase since 1996.”

We know from our current healthcare crisis in the UK we are facing similar struggles. 

Through his work he has begun to reveal the intricacies of the delicate balance between soil, the microbiome, and ourselves. The timeline of our chronic disease epidemic becomes very interesting, and in fact provides a pathway to the recovery toward human health.

Estimates in the USA show they sprayed more than 4.5 billion pounds of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) into the soils, plants, and water systems of our planet. 

In the UK I can only find a statistic from Defra in 2016 that stated 

2.5 million hectares in the UK were treated with a total of roughly 2.2 million kilograms of glyphosate which means more than a quarter of the UK’s farmland is being treated with glyphosate! Crazy amounts.

Zach states that “After “Roundup Ready” crops were introduced in the mid-late 1990’s, this water-soluble toxin would subsequently work its way into the water within the grains, fruits, and vegetables, as well as infiltrating the groundwater, slowly making its way into rivers, oceans, our air, and ultimately our rainfall. “

When we eat food it ends up in our gut so it makes sense that this area of our body that is responsible not only for our digestion but a large proportion of our mental/ nervous system health and immune system gets hit hard.

So how does it do that? ( bit technical) 

In the intestines, glyphosate directly damages the connective proteins that maintain the structure of the cell, and the cohesive nature of the gut and vascular membranes. It damages the epithelial tight junction tissue on contact, weakening the barriers that protect us on the inside from the barrage of other environmental toxins to which we are exposed. Injury to the tight junction membrane in the gut can lead to intestinal permeability otherwise known as “leaky gut”. 

Like the gliadin protein from gluten, glyphosate acts through zonulin-mediated pathways to damage the tight junction system. Zonulin can then go systemic to affect the extracellular matrix and tight junction systems throughout the body; injury to the tight junction membrane in the vascular system of the blood-brain barrier can result in the host of neurological symptoms typical with gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease. 

Essentially once the gut is permeable these toxins can get all round the body and damage the most precious areas of our body such as the brain.

I know from personal experience that even as someone who reacts badly to gluten if I eat a very pure organic wheat flour sourdough in most situations, I am fine but if you gave me a non-organic white loaf to eat I would suffer. Often one ingredient gets singled out as a culprit but when we think that we have eaten various forms of wheat for hundreds of years it makes far more sense that what we have done with it, how we have corrupted it is far more responsible for our health that we realise.

It also means that more that ever it is not enough to just follow an ingredient driven diet and that knowing and understanding how something is grown, and where its grown can be far more relevant for our health and the health of our environment. 

Any acute inflammatory response becomes chronic inflammation over time as your system is overwhelmed with toxins from the outside world which are not dealt with or removed.  Sadly Glyphosphate isn’t the ony pesticide and envirnoemtnal toxin we deal with but it is one of the worst and as Samsel A writes (Seneff S. Entropy. 2013: 15(4): 1416-1463)

Glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body.

I am sorry if this blog feels a bit doom and gloom. I haven’t meant it to be but sometimes if we are going to make a real shift we have to really hear the facts. And in this case I think you will agree they are pretty shocking and caused by something many of us probably still have in our garden shed! 

There is a solution though. That is Regenerative agriculture. If you haven’t read my blog on the subject you can find it here.

Returning to organic farming and indeed trying to grow as much food yourself is where we need to move to. Asking questions being inquisitive and reminding ourselves we are what we eat so lets eat the best we can!

X Prmrose 

The humble vegetable. A crucial part of a balanced diet. 

Shirked by many and loved by the few for so long it is great to see an increased appetite for our “greens” as the numbers of vegan and vegetarians grow in response to health, environmental and animal welfare concerns.

So how many vegetables should we be eating as part of a balanced diet?

Whilst I say “the more the merrier”, you can’t eat too many did you know there is an extraordinary effect of eating too many carrots which is a yellowish discolouration of the skin, a condition called carotenemia, which is most noticeable on the palms and soles!  Sounds extraordinary doesn’t it. 

So perhaps we take heed of the government dietary guidelines which suggest we should be eating a minimum of 400g of vegetables everyday as adults or 5 x 80g portions. We are reminded of this with the unforgettable  “one of your 5 a day”  slogan which we are all familiar with on product packaging.

Fruit and vegetables should make up half your plate at any given meal – approximately 30% vegetables and 20% fruit so we are told.

But how easy do you find this?

For many this is a simple and enjoyable undertaking but I believe this is down to being able to prepare and/or cook our vegetable friends in a delicious flavour filled way. This can often be a great skill with the average lack lustre specimens we find in our supermarket that have often been picked weeks before they land on your plate.

I believe the key to increasing your intake of vegetables is to choose locally sourced and seasonal varieties. 

You can immediately taste the difference between a carrot grown by your local farm shop or vegetable box provider and the ones from your supermarket. Most importantly as an advocate for organic you are more likely to find truly organically grown vegetables in these places whose taste isn’t hindered by a barage of chemicals.  

Carrots that actually taste of carrot! Amazing. 

Equally it is important to remember as we begin to reduce our salt and sugar intake in our diets our taste buds are heightened once more and the subtle flavours of vegetables that have been lost from us due to our diet then return.

So now we have rediscovered our interest in vegetables how can we more easily incorporate them into our diet?

Here are a few ideas to inspire you.

Savoury and Sweet

When we think of a vegetable we often think of them as savoury additions when in fact so many vegetables are very versatile and can be incorporated into a variety of more sweet dishes.

Beetroot for example works well in brownies, carrot in cake and biscuits, courgette in muffins. 

Often their use minimizes the use for excess sugar and binders and forms a welcome high fibre addition.

Take a look at the recipes on our website for some great ideas to inspire you such as our carrot waffles!

Whilst at PK we make muesli using you can likewise try grating fresh carrot and apple into your bowl of oats and soak them over night as a bircher mixed with warming spices of cinnamon and ginger for a wholesome start to your day.

Sunday Preparation

So often the time factor has a huge part of play on our creativity and inclusion of vegetables in our diet. A nice way to overcome this whilst also providing yourself with easy lunch options for the week is to prepare 3 or 4 chosen vegetables on a Sunday and store in boxes to make up a healthy meze during the week. Roasted sweet potatoes, peppers and courgettes work well for this mixed with herbs and spices.

Vegetable noodle anyone?

Often the way we prepare our vegetables can turn them into something else! What do I mean by this?

Well.. courgettes and sweet potato can be spiralised into noodles which combined with a nice sauce could replace flour noodles and pasta.

Cauliflower can be breadcrumbed and used as a flour or rice substitute. There are some great recipes for cauliflower pizza now.

Even simply grating carrot and beetroot together can make it more palatable as a salad addition topped with some crunchy roasted seeds.

Go Raw

Fresh, raw vegetables are very high in enzymes which are crucial for optimum digestion and often far more flavoursome often than the cooked ones. Snack on carrots, celery, cucumber, thinly sliced beetroot, radishes dipped into hummus, dukkah or runny cheese and nibble on freshly podded peas and broadbeans in season. Delicious…

Blend

If you prefer the art of disguise then blending might be the answer, either into a smoothie, juice or soup.

Now it is summer time why not try a refreshing gazpacho.

Or check out a smoothie recipe from our website.

Absorption

When we think of getting our vegetables down us we think of putting them in our mouth but another organ of assimilation is our skin.

We forget our skin is the largest organ of our body and absorbs what it touches. Therefore we can absorb nutrients and benefits of vegetables when we use them on our skin.

Some great examples of these are:

Avocado face mask – used by the Mayans as an anti-wrinkle cure this leaves the skin feeling super soft as it absorbs the vitamin A and E within it.

Cucumbers pureed with a little honey are cooling and hydrating for the skin reducing redness.

And thats a wrap..

My last contender is a clever replacement for bread. A Korean concept but easily adopted, the art of using seaweed sheets or lettuce leaves to wrap your sandwich ingredients. Especially good if you have gone gluten free or given up bread!

It is Summer so there is no better or more abundant time to go green and be experimenting with delicious seasonal vegetables. 

But if all else fails you can always reach for a bowl of our muesli!

X Primrose

With so much information at our finger tips via the web, podcasts and books that is often contradictory it can sometimes be overwhelming to know what are ultimately the best food choices for your health. 

In order to lessen our reliance on these channels of information as well as moving away from our own often critical overthinking of our food choices we need to spend time developing our relationship with ourselves and our own body. This can also be called developing your intuition. 

The definition of intuition is “the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning”.

Our brain is usually the one in charge, calling the shots, instead we need to allow our body to guide us to the correct outcome, using it like a dowser uses a pendulum for an answer.

If this is something that comes naturally to you then great if it doesn’t don’t worry, what is wonderful about our intuition is that it can be developed by all of us with some awareness and intention over time. The most important element is learning to trust ourselves which can often be easier said than done.

Often with our busy lives we don’t have time to slow down and really listen and notice the subtleties of symptoms our body may develop from eating certain foods over others. Left unnoticed these symptoms can turn into intolerances.

One thing that this recent lockdown has enabled I believe is for a reconnection to nature. When we reconnect to nature we reconnect to ourselves and what makes us feel good and what doesn’t. This enables us to better gauge when we feel we are in balance and when we are not quite and instead of ignoring these subtle changes we can look for ways to rectify them.

So what is intuitive eating?

Intuitive eating is is a framework for helping us establish a better relationship to food, our body image and movement.

It involves eliminating the word diet from our repertoire and practising an unconditional self acceptance and compassion towards ourselves so when we are struggling with food we have the strength to overcome it.

Rather than wanting to be the perfect weight and determining your self worth on what you have eaten or managed not to eat it is about accepting the beautiful person that you are.

Key steps to an intuitive eating way of life are as follows:

Respect satiety

In order to avoid overeating it is important to listen to your body when it is feeling full. Eat slowly and chew your food. Maintain hydration levels during the day so when you eat you are not dehydrated and compensating with food. 

Listen to Hunger

Hunger is an important natural function of the body.

During your everyday don’t wait till you are starving to eat. Your body doesn’t know the difference between food scarcity and starvation so will compensate for you starving yourself by slowing down the metabolism to conserve energy which can lead to weight gain.

Watch your emotions

We all know it is a disaster to go to the supermarket when we are hungry as our emotions are strong and we end up making impulsive usually more unhealthy food choices but how often do we watch how our eating fluctuates with our other emotions? Become consciously aware of when this happens and consider other methods of soothing yourself that don’t involve food.

Move from emotive eating to mindful eating. Slow down, savour and enjoy the subtle flavours of the food and appreciate each mouthful.

Avoid reactive and habitual behaviour

Be conscious and be guided to what makes your body feel good rather than following habitual behaviour.

Walk down the aisle and feel your way towards the variety of different vegetables and fruit. What do you feel like? What does your body want?

Rather than doing the same shop every week for the same set of meals you do every week focus on variety.

Seasonal

Following the food that is in season is a great and simple starting point for this intuitive eating journey. Eating what is in season means eating what is grown in your local area, it has travelled the least distance and has the most nutrition. It is also most likely to be closest to what our ancestors were eating at that time and as it is grown in the same soil that we live on if often high in the minerals and nutrients we actually need as we are intrinsically connected to our environment whether we realise it or not.

Permission

Neutralise your attitude towards food and give yourself permission to eat any food that you want. By restricting certain things you will end up craving them more and put them in the “bad for me” box.  An intuitive diet is about moderation. Sometimes the magnesium in chocolate is exactly what your body needs and you should listen to it!

Exercise in the moment

When you are exercising don’t be highly focussed on the outcome you want to achieve but focus on how you feel whilst you are doing it. Focus on what your body likes and what it doesn’t and adapt from there. 

Don’t forget that eating should be a pleasurable and satisfying experience.

Allow it be that for you by not diminishing it to what is on your plate, become aware of the environment or company as part of your eating experience and make necessary changes so that it supports you best. 

I leave you with a quote from Amanda Levitt (writer and activist) 

X Primrose

“ It sometimes is as simple as reminding myself that my body is a good body, that all bodies are good bodies”

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