We've teamed up with good friend & nutritional therapist Stephanie De Chillaz, to talk about health, wellbeing and all the wonderful benefits of sourdough!
Stephanie breaks down her favourite breakfast ingredients, as well as exploring the main pillars of a balanced diet. She discusses gut health as well as the benefits of fermented foods and why sourdough is the best form of bread to eat.
Healthy food definitely doesn't mean boring food, so head over to watch the whole video on our IGTV to have some of your most burning questions answered.
The whole interview was transcribed below for you to read in your own time. Enjoy & Happy World Health Day!
What have been the most asked questions in your sessions with your clients during the pandemic?
Definitely how to eat and live in a more healthy way and which supplements to take on a regular basis to support immunity and a healthy lifestyle. I have seen a definitive shift in my clients’ attitudes towards their own health and how to support that with food. It was particularly interesting in January when it is usual for clients to come and see me for weight loss, I only saw patients for immune and general health and well-being goals. Given we are all eating in now, I’ve also had lots of queries on how to cook quick and healthy meals. Not everyone has that much time to cook, so I have been providing lots of delicious, nutritious and easy to make recipes!
What would a typical breakfast and lunch look like for you and your family?
Breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day for me and I like to give my kids a breakfast with sustenance so that includes some protein and low glycemic index carbs which means carbohydrates which are absorbed more slowly so blood sugar levels remain balanced throughout the day. An example of this may be a soft boiled egg with sourdough toast soldiers, porridge with a handful of berries and nuts or full fat yoghurt (coconut yoghurt for me) with homemade granola, sliced pear and berries. Lunch for me is usually a bit lighter, a big mixed salad or grilled vegetables with a good portion of protein, so either some lentils or a piece of grilled fish. I try to really up my plant intake at lunch time and include a wide variety of different coloured vegetables to get as many nutrients and antioxidants as possible. I also always include some healthy fats such as some avocado, olives or seeds which is super important for skin health.
What are the main pillars of a balanced diet in your opinion?
Michael Pollan really said it best when he said “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.” I couldn’t agree more. The main pillars of a balanced diet for me are first of all to eat whole foods so whatever comes out of the ground in as close to its natural state as possible and to avoid processed foods. I would also say that, unless you have allergies or intolerances, a bit of everything is fine, but always in moderation.
How does what we eat and put into our bodies affect our digestion & gut health?
You know that old saying you are what you eat? Well it’s true, but not quite. You literally are what you absorb. Everything that we put into our mouths and whatever we digest and absorb will have an impact on how our bodies work. Our guts and our bodies are extremely interconnected to the extent that nutritionists talk about the gut being the most underrated organ. 70% of our immune cells reside in our guts and our gut microbiome plays a big role in how those cells develop and function. In addition to this, if we have a healthy gut microbiome, our digestion will be optimised, skin health will be better, joint and muscle pains will improve, the list goes on. It is extremely important that we keep our gut microbiota happy and thriving. The best way to do that is by feeding them with the right sorts of food. Firstly, we want to eat prebiotics which help to lay the groundwork or the foundation for the good bacteria to survive and flourish. These are mostly plants, as they include the fibrous part of the plant. Examples of prebiotics include onion, garlic, leeks, artichokes, oats, legumes (the list is long!). Then we want to populate the gut with all sorts of good bacteria and this mostly comes in the form of fermented foods. Examples include kefir, yoghurt, sauerkraut, miso and sourdough bread - the longer the fermentation process the better it is for you and your gut!
What would you say to your clients who love bread and want to incorporate it into a balanced diets?
Bread should be the best possible bread. Sourdough, if possible. Darker grains, such as rye and wholewheat have a lower gluten content and higher levels of minerals and fibre. Ancient grains such as einkorn and buckwheat are making a comeback in the bread world because they tend to have higher amounts of protein, fibre and vitamins. Clients who have a gluten intolerance need to be aware of which grains they can and cannot have, but it is perfectly possible to have delicious gluten free bread nowadays too.
How is sourdough better for you than regular bread that’s made with commercial yeast?
Sourdough bread is bread which has undergone a slow fermentation process. Flour is left to ferment with water, which produces these wonderful by products called lactic acid and acetic acid. Lactic acid is able to break down phytic acid. Phytic acids, which are present in most whole grains, usually reduce the bioavailability of minerals, but because of the fermentation process and the presence of lactic acids in sourdough, phytates are decreased. Sourdough bread therefore has more mineral bioavailability in comparison to average store-bought breads. Lactic acid is also able to slow the rate at which sugar is digested and absorbed by our digestive system. This means that when we eat sourdough, our blood sugars do not spike like most conventional white industrial breads. Blood sugar control is at the core of our health as it keeps our energy levels in check and our moods stable. Disproportionate blood sugar spikes and crashes can lead to higher sugar cravings, irritability, anxiety, poor sleep, low energy and ultimately weight gain.
How do you enjoy your sourdough and what is the healthiest way to eat it?
Sourdough is a complex carbohydrate so its always a good idea to pair that with some protein or healthy fats. Protein and fat get absorbed much more slowly which helps to keep us fuller for longer and as sourdough is low glycemic, as mentioned earlier, blood sugars will be released more slowly from that too. I love to lightly toast sourdough and eat it with almond butter, a soft boiled egg or some avocado and a drizzle of olive oil. That will keep you going all morning or afternoon without the need to snack!