Workshop for increasing Stress Resilience


28th January 2017 - Hargrave hall, Hargrave Road, N19 5SP, London UK

Come and learn nutritional, naturopathic, physical and psychological tools for improving your stress resilience and reducing the negative effects of stress, both mentally and physically.

During this workshop you will learn:
- The effects of chronic stress and how to spot the warning signs
- Nutrition for stress and how to avoid stress related symptoms such as gastrointestinal complaints and IBS-Develop healthier ways of responding to stress through Naturopathic and yogic interventions.
- Become aware of the dysfunctional breathing patterns as a result of stress
- Learn specific breathing techniques to promote relaxation and peace within the body and mind.
- Become familiar with medicinal herbs and flower remedies that can ease some common symptoms associated with stress.
- Qigong based self-relaxation exercises for calming the mind and emotions

You also get to enjoy and trial a selection of teas designed to help relaxation and which support the body during the times of stress.

The workshop will be led by registered nutritional therapist Taru Towers (BSc, mBANT, mCNHC), naturopathic practitioner Lisa-Marie Cresswel (BSc) and hypnotherapist and Qigong teacher Cheyne Towers.

Pre-paid tickets for the event are £20 and £25 on the door. To book your place please contact me HERE


Shiitake & Seed Pate: The tasty paste with Superpowers

According to the traditional Chinese Medical tradition Shiitake   preserves health, improves stamina and circulation, cures colds and lowers blood cholesterol ( David Moore Org )

According to the traditional Chinese Medical tradition Shiitake preserves health, improves stamina and circulation, cures colds and lowers blood cholesterol (David Moore Org)

Here's some foody inspiration for the weekend: a super easy and quick recipe for a shiitake and seed paste, which I love using on its own as much as on crackers.

Shiitake mushrooms are rich in B vitamins—they are an excellent source of pantothenic acid, a source of vitamins B2 and B6, niacin, choline and folate. Rich in minerals, these shrooms are an excellent source of selenium and copper, a source of zinc, and a good source of manganese. They also provide a wide variety of unique phytonutrients supporting our immune system and systemic wellbeing. These days most supermarkets stock shiitake so they tend to be easily available.

This paste also includes garlic – a strong antimicrobial and antibacterial aid – and seeds, which provide healthy fats, fibre and plenty of minerals. I tend to be quite experimental with the seeds: sometimes I use pumpkin, sometimes sunflower and sometimes I mix both and add some sesame. If you want to try flaxseed, I would recommend you not making a big batch (or eat it soon) as the delicate oils of flaxseed spoil quickly when exposed to oxygen.


  • Punnet of shiitake (wash well)
  • 1/4 sunflower seeds
  • ½-2 gloves of garlic (depending on your taste buds... and how social you want to be later on)
  • 2 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil
  • dash of tamari or/and teaspoon of rice based miso
  • Blend all together until smooth paste. Store in the fridge; consume within 3 days. Add water, or ½ ripe avocado fro a thinner dip.

The recipe is from Dale Pinnock’s Medicinal Cookery book; a great little book of recipes which are not only tasty but also very, very good for us :)

Fibre from natural whole foods is key for a healthy, happy tummy

Broccoli is rich in dietary fibre which feeds a healthy gut ecology. A varied diet rich in different plant foods - ideally unprocessed and where possible, organic - is the most natural way of supporting healthy, happy gut. However, sometimes a condition or reduced digestive capacity may call for a momentary reduction in dietary fibre. To ensure your diet is suitable as an individual, don't hesitate to work with an qualified, registered nutritional therapist.

Broccoli is rich in dietary fibre which feeds a healthy gut ecology. A varied diet rich in different plant foods - ideally unprocessed and where possible, organic - is the most natural way of supporting healthy, happy gut. However, sometimes a condition or reduced digestive capacity may call for a momentary reduction in dietary fibre. To ensure your diet is suitable as an individual, don't hesitate to work with an qualified, registered nutritional therapist.

A recent study in the journal Cell showed how important fibre (from whole foods such as vegetables, berries and wholegrain) is to the health of our gut.

Our gut microbiome, the bacteria who live in our intestines, is also affected by our diet. As these symbiotic fellows guard the health of our gut lining, the balance of this ecology is of prime importance to us all.

In this experiment, the researchers were looking at mice, who were divided into 3 groups: those with plenty of whole food derived fibre, those with no fibre and those with supplemented prebiotics (like those you can obtain from supplements).

The research showed that when the fibre-rich diet was consumed, the animal's gastrointestinal track stayed healthy, protecting the mouse from infection. The protective effect was especially seen in the mucus layer, which forms a physical barrier between the gut content and the gut lining.

However when the diet contained no fibre, even for a few days, the gut microbes started to consume the mucus layers, using the glycoproteins of the mucus as a nutrient source. Worse still, after a few days the bacteria started to consume the actual colon wall, reducing the integrity of the gastrointestinal track.

The researchers found that a diet high in prebiotic fibre, similar to that found in some processed foods and supplements, showed similar results to the diet that lacked fibre. The scientists also found the fibre-free diet caused the mice to show signs of illness.

In conclusion the team state that “your diet directly influences your microbiota, and from there it may influence the status of your gut’s mucus layer and tendency toward disease. But it’s an open question of whether we can cure our cultural lack of fibre, with something more purified and easy to ingest than broccoli.”

I ask - what's wrong with broccoli??!!

If you have any digestive issues, low immunity or energy problems, please don't hesitate to give me a call and arrange an appointment.

You can access the abstract of this study HERE


Stress, health and the role of diet

Stress and associated health complaints are one of my key areas of interest. Stress, whether psychological, physical, real or perceived, is pervasive in our society and negatively affects many of us.

It is estimated that well over half of the GP visits are due to chronic stress, which as has resulted in a loss of immunity, fatigue/exhaustion, alterations in mood and sense of wellbeing. Work related stress alone is a reason for one in five GP visits in the UK.

If a person is not well equipped to deal with stress both physically and mentally, the effects of chronic stress can be dramatic. Here are some negative effects of persistent, ill-managed stress:

  • Anxiety & depression
  • Exhaustion, loss of motivation
  • Loss of cognitive capacity
  • Short term memory loss
  • Insomnia
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Infertility & sexual dysfunction
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Loss of muscular tone
  • Increased cardiovascular event risk
  • Premature ageing

Our body has an inbuilt regulatory mechanism, which – if functioning correctly – can see us through periods of intense challenges. Both psychological and physical stress ignites the same response pattern: whether due to work or relationship stress or due to an intense physical demand, the body responds with the same neuronal and hormonal cascade, designed to see us through the challenge. Problems often arise if the trauma is too intense (overwhelming the system) or chronically repeated (such as continuous mental stress or toxin exposure).

What can we do, if we are suffering from stress?

First step is identifying our main sources of stress – better the devil you know, right? If stressors are arising from within, reassessment of our perceptions, priorities and habitual behaviour and thought patterns may be called for in order to increase our psychological resilience. Meditation, or calming exercise from walking to Tai Chi, Qigong or yoga can also help us deal with anxiety or stressful emotions. But even our psychological wellbeing and resilience is intimately linked to our nutritional status; new research is suggestive of a link between nutritional imbalances and low mood/anxiety, insomnia and reduced cognitive capacity.

If the source is external – for instance a toxin/allergen exposure, inappropriate foods or type of exercise - action can be taken to limit this exposure, while supporting the body in its regulatory functions with appropriate diet.

Regardless of the source, a combination of dietary and lifestyle actions can ensure, that those inbuilt body mechanisms designed to protect us in the face of a challenge will function correctly when needed.

What’s food got to do with it?

You may ask, what diet has to do with stress?  In short: a lot. US MD Mark Hyman estimated in his interview in a recent Adrenal Summit in 2016 that the role of diet is 80% of a persons’ recovery path. The other 20% is lifestyle changes; ensuring restful sleep (supported by appropriate nutrients and sleep hygiene), supportive movement and calming of the nervous system.  80% is a significant figure and highlights the imperative role nutrients have in regulating the functions of our body. As is often the case, many may be over-fed, but under nourished, and this problem that is accentuated in the presence of chronic stress.

Our digestive capacity is always impaired by stress. If stress is chronic, this can lead to a vicious cycle, as stress in one hand increases our need for nutrients while reducing our ability to absorb these from food. Digestive symptoms and IBS are prevalent in those experiencing chronic stress and for some, stress-management techniques may be the key in managing IBS.

So what can you do if you are dealing with stress and not coping? Don’t hesitate to give me a call to discuss your situation. I work with clients both face-to-face as well as via Skype, and together we can start paving the way towards better stress resilience, improved wellbeing and joie de vivre.

Tel 0203 372 5274  or Email me HERE

From my Instagram feed - short and sweet

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Stress, nutrition and wanting to conceive

Nutrition and stress both affect womans ability to conceive. PIcture cresdit: Dany Tedmore

Nutrition and stress both affect womans ability to conceive. PIcture cresdit: Dany Tedmore

Many of you already know that this month I've started working with a clinic, which focusses on stress resilience, helping clients to counteract the negative effects of stress on their health.

Chronic stress can affect our health in various negative ways. But a recent study with 400 women has proven something that nutritional therapists have known for a long time; stress can also affect our ability to conceive.

The study found that women who reported feeling more stressed during their ovulatory window, were approximately 40-percent less likely to conceive during that month than other, less stressful months.

"The results imply that women who wish to conceive may increase their chances by taking active steps towards stress reduction such as exercising, enrolling in a stress management program or talking to a health professional." says Kira Taylor, Ph.D., one of the researchers of the study.

Can nutrition help in stress? Absolutely. Together with my clients we ensure that any dietary stressors are removed, and nutrients which support the body's own ability to respond to stress are available and enjoyed every day. We also work on lifestyle changes to optimise person's stress management (=release) techniques and ensure sufficient rest. Moving forward, if the environment which provides the stress is unlikely to change, I often work with cognitive hypnotherapist Cheyne Towers from Highgate Hypnosis, who provides tools to initiate change in behavioural and thought patterns. After all, we are often less likely to be able to change our environment, but we all have the power to change how we relate to it.

S. Akhter, M. Marcus, R.A. Kerber, M. Kong, K.C. Taylor. The Impact of Periconceptional Maternal Stress on Fecundability. Annals of Epidemiology, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2016.07.015

Research Source : Science Daily

Five things you may not know about Nutritional Therapy

So what exactly is Nutritional Therapy? Here are five things you may not know.

1.     Nutritional Therapy supports the body’s innate desire for balance and health by making sure our everyday diet meets our nutritional needs and is free of allergens, irritants and toxins.

2.     As well as choosing the rights foods, it is also vital that we digest these foods well, absorbing and assimilating nutrients efficiently. Therefore, supporting our digestive capacity is also one of the key aspects of nutritional therapy work.

3.     Nutritional therapy addresses lifestyle, as this is intimately connected to our nutrient needs and our capacity to assimilate nutrients.  Nutritional Therapy guides and supports clients in adopting lifestyle changes around exercise and stress management.  

Did you know that different types of exercise are useful at different stages of life, or when you’re feeling very stressed?  If you’re highly stressed I may suggest you reduce high intensity exercise and increase low to moderate intensity workouts, as well as starting or increasing time spent meditating.  This modulates the response from your adrenal system.  Equally I may ask older people to take up safe weight training to improve their hormonal balance, energy and general sense of wellbeing.

4.     Nutritional Therapists use a wide range of tools to assess and identify potential nutritional imbalances and understand how these may contribute to an individual’s symptoms and health concerns. These tools include things like biochemical and functional testing. testing reveals biochemical data, which helps to make the interventions more specific and effective.

5.     Nutritional Therapy is recognised as a complementary medicine and is relevant for individuals with chronic conditions, as well as those looking for support to enhance their health, wellbeing and longevity.  

In the UK, qualified registered nutritional therapists are members of the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council CNHC and most often also members of professional body BANT.

How to ease The Day After (tips for the summer party season)

This article appeared in Healthy For Men earlier this year.

How to ease the hangover if you can't avoid it all together. Picture by  MIslav Marohnic.

How to ease the hangover if you can't avoid it all together. Picture by MIslav Marohnic.

Hanging after a birthday bash? Dreading the day after after some bubbles in the park? Alcohol, tobacco and other recreational drugs and associated behaviour will throw a challenge for your body to mob, metabolise and transform toxins for safe excretion. On the firing line are your liver, gut and kidneys, all of which will appreciate little extra care before and after the onslaught.

Alcohol affects not only your "upper" brain, but it also affects our "second brain", our gut microbiota, or gut flora. Long-term exposure to alcohol has been found to increase the amount of gram-negative bacteria, which metabolises the ethanol to acetaldehyde (1). This toxic metabolite not only enhances your experience of hangover in itself, but punches microscopic holes in your gut wall, reducing the effectiveness of your initial detoxification phase, where foreign molecules are rejected at the level of gut lining.

Increased intestinal permeability opens the door to other molecules that normally are kept away from our circulation. In bloodstream, these molecules can initiate systemic inflammation by overloading livers’ functional capacity. Stress or lack of sleep compounds the situation and a nail in the coffin is the intake of painkillers the morning after (2). While painkillers are effective in stopping the sensation of pain, they further erode the gut lining, giving many a tender stomach over the following week.

Few things can help damage management. Starting from the gut, research has shown that Aloe Vera sooths excessive acidity of the stomach, helping to heal the mucosal damage while reducing inflammation (3,4). Flax seeds, soaked in water for quarter of an hour or more, forms similar protective gel, soothing the inflamed intestines. While probiotic foods like live yogurt and kefir may be useful (5), research on dairy is not conclusive and those with lactose intolerance should give this trick a miss. Dairy free probiotic drink Kombutcha or a good quality multi-strain probiotic supplement would provide relief and help balance an upset gut (6).

If the evening is likely to end up in a kebab shop or a chippie, you may want to learn from the Koreans. They found that oral intake of chlorella at 100gm/day reduced the absorption of the dietary carcinogenic agents present in fried, grilled or charred foods (7). Chlorella has also been found effective in generally supporting the liver load in healthy volunteers (8).

Be it alcohol, tobacco or other recreational drugs - what is absorbed from the gut is dealt by the liver. Powerhouse of our detoxification, liver is a nutrient hungry organ. A B-vitamin complex, branched chain amino acids and phytochemicals, such as those available from cruciferous vegetables, onions and garlic are essential. Antioxidants like vitamin C, E and A mop up the formed free radicals and cavalcade of amino acids are conjugated to the toxins to finally excrete them out of the body. Particularly taurine, methionine, cysteine and glycine are important and found in all complete protein (9). Herbal extract Milk Thistle is a extensively researched in relation to liver function (10), and its capacity to simultaneously support different liver pathways makes it a must add-on to any party animals daily armoury.

After the bacchanals, flush your system with plenty of clean filtered of water, preferably with a pinch of sea salt, rock salt or commercial Ph salts to restore your hydration and electrolyte balance. A Korean study found red ginseng extract effective in reducing hangover symptoms (11), while a Hungarian study found an amino acid complex containing 5-HTP useful in alleviating emotional symptoms (12). If the parties have been numerous, amino acids choline and betaine can provide support for the liver regeneration (13, 14).

While rest is important (especially if you’ve lost sleep) gentle exercise like a walking can replete serotonin, while increasing circulation and therefore aiding liver detoxification (15). Tryptophan rich food sources like poached eggs, cottage cheese or salmon provide building blocks for this mood lifting hormone; enjoy these with some complex carbohydrates like sweet potato to enhance the absorption. Supplementation with 5-HTP may also also help, but is contraindicated with anyone on antidepressants and should be taken after, not during excessive alcohol intake.


1. Purohit, Vishnudutt, et al. "Alcohol, intestinal bacterial growth, intestinal permeability to endotoxin, and medical consequences: summary of a symposium." Alcohol 42.5 (2008): 349-361.

2. Bjarnason, I., et al. "Effect of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and prostaglandins on the permeability of the human small intestine." Gut 27.11 (1986): 1292-1297.

3. Yusuf, S. et al. “The effect of Aloe vera A. berger (Liliaceae) on gastric acid secretion and acute gastric mucosal injury in rats”. J. Ethnopharmacol. 2004, 93, 33-37. 

4. Mansour, Ghada, et al. "Clinical efficacy of new aloe vera‐and myrrh‐based oral mucoadhesive gels in the management of minor recurrent aphthous stomatitis: a randomized, double‐blind, vehicle‐controlled study." Journal of Oral Pathology & Medicine 43.6 (2014): 405-409.

5. Antoine, Jean Michel. "Probiotics: beneficial factors of the defence system." Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 69.03 (2010): 429-433. 

6. McFarland, Lynne V. "Use of probiotics to correct dysbiosis of normal microbiota following disease or disruptive events: a systematic review." BMJ open 4.8 (2014): e005047. 

7. Lee, Inyeong, et al. "Detoxification of chlorella supplement on heterocyclic amines in Korean young adults." Environmental toxicology and pharmacology 39.1 (2015): 441-446.

8. Aliashrafi, Soodabeh, et al. "The effect of microalgae chlorella vulgaris supplementation on inflammatory factors in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: A double-blind randomized clinical trial." (2014): 113-121.

9. Liska, Lyon et al. “Detoxification and biotransformational imbalances”. In: Textbook of Functional Medicine. Institute for the Functional Medicine (2010): 275-326

10. Pradhan, S. C., and C. Girish. "Hepatoprotective herbal drug, silymarin from experimental pharmacology to clinical medicine." Indian Journal of Medical Research 124.5 (2006): 491.

11. Lee, Mi-Hyang, et al. "Red ginseng relieves the effects of alcohol consumption and hangover symptoms in healthy men: a randomized crossover study." Food & function 5.3 (2014): 528-534. 

12. Jukić, Tomislav, et al. "The use of a food supplementation with D-phenylalanine, L-glutamine and L-5-hydroxytriptophan in the alleviation of alcohol withdrawal symptoms." Collegium antropologicum 35.4 (2011): 1225-1230.

13. Jung, Young Suk, et al. "Alleviation of alcoholic liver injury by betaine involves an enhancement of antioxidant defense via regulation of sulfur amino acid metabolism." Food and Chemical Toxicology 62 (2013): 292-298.

14. Mehedint, Mihai G., and Steven H. Zeisel. "Choline’s role in maintaining liver function: new evidence for epigenetic mechanisms." Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care 16.3 (2013): 339

15. Young SN. How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs. Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience : JPN. 2007;32(6):394-399.

Our Choice of Foods Affects the Quality of Our Sleep

Research has found that our diet affects the quality of our sleep. Picture credit:

Research has found that our diet affects the quality of our sleep. Picture credit:

Can your dinner affect how you sleep? A very recent study from the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University Medical Center suggests that it does. The conclusion of the study was that a diet low in fibre, high in unsaturated fats and sugar is more likely to be associated with light, less restorative sleep. In addition, the individual is more likely to be aroused from his/her sleep.

In this study the researchers followed 26 adults between the ages of 30-45 who had prior sleep problems. These individuals were monitored for five nights in a sleep lab, spending nine hours in bed each night from 10pm to 7am. During the first four days, participants consumed a controlled diet; on day five, the participant was allowed to select his/her own diet. Sleep data was collected from every night.

Results showed that sleep duration was similar during the controlled diet and self selected diet. However, the quality of sleep was different. On the day when the diet was self-selected, individuals had less of the deep slow-wave sleep and it took a longer time to fall asleep.

Food analysis revealed that ingestion of high fibre foods predicted less stage 1 (=very light) sleep and more slow-wave sleep. When the diet consisted more saturated fat, sugars and processed carbohydrates, this lead to less slow (deep) wave sleep and frequent arousals

Dr. St-Onge who led the study mentioned that the results reveal a vicious cycle of sleep. Poor sleep increases impulses for a diet with increased sugar and fat, and that in turn will adversely affect sleep. So the cycle of poor sleep becomes continuous.

Diets high in carbohydrate intake may delay circadian rhythms (our natural sleep/wake rhythms) and lower secretion of melatonin, which can delay the onset of sleep.

And remember - preferably, we aim to have our last meal a minimum of 3 hours before going to bed to allow the gastrointestinal system a rest over the night. This way the body is also able to divert energy from energy-intensive digestion to other processes which take place at night.

REFERENCE: St-Onge MP, Roberts A, Shechter A, Choudhury AR. Fiber and saturated fat are associated with sleep arousals and slow wave sleep. J Clin Sleep Med, 2016;12(1):19%u201324. DOI: 10.5664/jcsm.5384

#sleep #diet