What does your Gut Tell You?


Your gonna need a brew for this one, settle in…………………I promise the top notch info is worth it though.

Hippocrates said over 2000 years ago “All disease begins in the gut”. And increasingly we are becoming aware of just how right he was.

More than ever today research reveals that gut health has a significant impact on our overall health, and can contribute to a wide range of diseases including skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, diabetes, obesity, auto immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, autism, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome. Scary Stuff!

Our Gut Health is reliant on two things

1)the intestinal microbiota, or “gut flora”

2) The gut barrier/wall.

Our gut flora is responsible for proper digestion, regulating our metabolism and is a major part of our immune system helping to protect us from infection. So you can see why unhappy gut flora is a big deal.  Research has linked unbalanced gut flora to diseases ranging from autism and depression to autoimmune conditions.

Unfortunately, many aspects of our modern, busy lifestyles can contribute to an unhealthy gut and unbalance our flora. Such as……………..

■ Antibiotics and other medications

■ Refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods

■ Lack of fermentable fibre

■ Wheat, Dairy, Food intolerance

■ Chronic stress

Next time someone is stressing you out, tell them to stop messing with your flora!

Moving on, Leaky gut is increased intestinal permeability or intestinal hyper permeability.

This can happen when junctions in the gut, that control what passes through the lining of the small intestine, don’t work properly. Perhaps I will go into more depth on why this is another time-it’s a whole subject in itself!

This then allows large protein molecules to escape into the bloodstream. Since these proteins don’t belong outside of the body your immune system responds by attacking them. Research has shown that this can play a role in autoimmune diseases which are caused when the body’s own immune system turns on itself.

An important point to note is, as these symptoms are presented by the immune response you may not have symptoms from your gut in order to actually have leaky gut. As mentioned the immune response may be by way of skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, or indeed an autoimmune disease and more research suggests also a metal/brain related condition – depression, autism.

So if you think may be suffering from anything that could be potentially caused by your gut (in summary pretty much any health issue you have right now could come from your gut!) how do you go about fixing it????

Well firstly it’s all the usual stuff I bang on about such as cutting out processed foods, sugar and then looking at potential intolerances that will differ from person to person. However the first and most common causes are wheat/gluten and dairy so start with those before moving onto other starches, vegetables, fruit and/or spices.

A probiotic is a great way of  re-balancing  Gut Flora – and I don’t mean one of those stupid Yakult things off the telly! I mean a proper one.


If you prefer a more holistic approach try adding fermented foods to your diet such as Saurkraut (Those Scandinavians are onto something) or  Kefir. Kefir is a fermented milk drink made with kefir “grains” (a yeast/bacterial fermentation starter). It is prepared by mixing  cowgoat, or sheep or even coconut milk with kefir grains. It has many uses as a natural pro biotic and I would recommend anyone to check out www.chucklinggoat.co.uk to read about how it’s owners began her business after using Goats Milk Kefir to treat asthma and eczema in her son and then MRSA in her husband! And you people just thought I liked Goats because they are cute, no it’s because they are magical.

If you have or are taking antibiotics is also a good idea to take a pro biotic alongside or after in order to minimise damage to your gut.

And finally find ways to manage stress in your life whether that be with exercise, yoga, meditation, or reading etc. You know how when you are stressed you can feel knots in your stomach-what makes you think this isn’t just your imagination

So I hope your gut has digested all that, I’m off to snuggle some magic goats!

Nicola x



The best exercise for weight loss

I often get asked “what is the best exercise to lose weight” and although I will usually give an answer –abs are made in the kitchen not in the gym sort of answer, exercise is of course an important part of a weight loss journey, it also the best way of helping you to sustain your weight loss – along with your new dietary habits. But I must stress before I continue the most effective way to lose weight is through your diet, no amount of exercise can out train junk food. However I digress……………

Exercise has many health benefits. It releases endorphins that improve your mood, increases your energy levels (when you say you don’t have the energy to exercise it’s because you aren’t doing any!) as well as more importantly helping to prevent heart disease, many cancers and improving joint and bone health.

There is of course many a scientific study behind what is the best exercise to lose weight and the general consensus is resistance training (that’s weights to you and me), combined with cardio intervals and long slow duration. So short answer – a bit of everything

Resistance training aids weight loss as it builds muscle, and muscle is essentially a little furnace burning fat all day even when you’re sat still. Hence the more muscle you have, the more fat you burn. And I don’t mean you have to have guns like Arnie to burn fat, just building a leaner, more muscular physique will do the trick. And no ladies, you won’t suddenly look like a rugby player because you lift over 5kgs (my legs are an exception, I’m sorry to say you will not all be gifted with a pair this Hench). To be honest if barbells and plates aren’t for you (although what is wrong with you!!!) then bodyweight resistance will build muscle too. So things like press ups, squats, lunges, tricep dips added into your routine a few times per week will help to get that muscle furnace burning.

Cardio –

HIIT/Interval Training. This is when exercise is performed at maximum intensity for a short period i.e. 30 seconds followed by a similar rest period and repeated for say 10-20 mins. Interval training burns fat because it basically shocks the system. Research shows that it increases fat oxidisation and the effect continues long after your workout has finished. This is referred to as after burn or in technical terms EPOC. (Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) This is an increased rate of oxygen intake following strenuous activity intended to erase the body’s oxygen deficit. Which in lay man’s terms means your metabolism is on fire burning, burning, and burning the fat up! Therefore you get more bang for your buck.

LSD training i.e. steady state cardio for around 30 mins is firstly good for your cardiovascular health (your heart) and it sure does burn calories. So in a basic science formula if you do lots of steady state cardio, you will burn lots of calories and so long as you don’t put all those calories back in with food, you will lose weight.

So I’m going to let you into a big secret here that the scientist’s won’t tell you. So this is just between us. The best exercise for weight loss is……………………………………………any exercise that you will actually do consistently!


In reality yes there are studies that will give you an answer to the perfect weight loss formula, and how to build certain physiques, but if you are just after a little help to shift the lbs and the idea of weights or long runs or Insanity style workouts put you off, that doesn’t mean you can’t use exercise to help you lose weight and improve your fitness.

If you enjoy running but not weights that’s fine, keep running. If you love to fling metal but can’t face an hour on the treadmill, not a problem fling that metal! And if neither is for you just going for a 30 min walk 3 times per week is going to help more than sitting on the sofa, if you want to take up yoga – great! It is all movement and if you enjoy it, do it consistently alongside a clean, healthy diet then I promise you it will help you lose weight and most importantly improve your health and general wellbeing. (But if anyone asks I said you have to spend hours in the gym lifting heavy weights and run 10 miles a day ok!).

So go and do some movement……………….Any…………………just move!


Nicola x



Pancake Day


Well this weekend brings us Valentine’s Day –the official day of lurvvve and next week is Pancake Day-the official day of erm….eating lots of pancakes. Ok I am of course aware that it is a religious tradition that is essentially a last feast before abstinence in lent and the purpose of making pancakes was to use up the staples that would be abstained from i.e. butter, milk etc. and generally have a feast . If you are Pagan the Pancakes symbolise the sun and the entire week of Pancake aka Shrovetide week is about welcoming in the spring. I’ll be honest Pagans seem way more glass half full right now than Christians.

Anyway, you’re probably wondering why this has turned into a religious history lesson.

Well lots of people whether Christian or not choose to give something up during lent, (usually chocolate) and I wondered whether you might be doing the same or perhaps it might be a good idea to try and embrace the Pagan way of thinking and do something to welcome in the spring. And by this I mean perhaps instead of giving something up, maybe try and form a new healthy habit?

And how is this welcoming in the spring exactly? Well, remember those summer bodies we were building over the winter??? Yeh that one that you sort of got comfortable with under the comfort of winter jumpers, well if spring is on the way you are going to be baring some skin again before we know it (eeeeekkkk!) so how about welcoming spring in by committing to a new exercise class for the entirety of lent, or vowing to drink 2 litres of water every day, walking for 30 minutes 3 times per week, anything that will make you feel that little bit better about the prospect of warmer temperatures.

Ok so maybe for you this does mean you want to give something up- sugar, starchy carbs (bread, pasta….) or that nightly glass of wine (it’s not dry January you can still have one at the weekend!) that’s great but instead of calling it an abstinence and therefore making it feel like a chore, lets re brand it as “spring body preparation “ – title needs work I know but you get my point, you’re not giving up something to punish yourself you are choosing to do something good for your health and self-esteem. So it is an act of self-love (stop it!) not self-punishment.

So let me know if you’re thinking of embracing lent as a time of forming new healthier habits.

I’ll have to have a think about mine too, what with me being such a perfect human being it’s difficult to see how I can be improved – cue large amount of email suggestions and a text message from Mr A!


The Steak and Champagne Trainer x

Ps. To cover both Valentine’s Day and Pancake Day I have this great recipe from Rachel Holmes at Kick-start Fat Loss

Pink Pancakes


2 Eggs

225g Flour – Try buckwheat for a Gluten Free and Healthier Alternative

1 Heaped Tsp Baking Powder

300ml Apple Juice

150g peeled and grated beetroot

½ tsp mixed spice

Coconut Oil to cook


Whisk eggs until frothy

Combine with all other ingredients and fold together

Heat coconut oil in a pan, then pour mixture in batches depending how big you want your pancakes and cook until golden, flip repeat done!


Food is thy medicine

There is hopefully a quiet revolution afoot. I don’t think it will take hold immediately but slowly, slowly the penny is starting to drop – medicine is not always the answer. What we put into our bodies by way of nutrition can have a huge impact on our health and what goes on both internally with our organs, hormones, digestive system even our nervous system, joints and muscles, as well as what goes on externally in our skin, eyesight etc and how we feel generally – energy levels, headaches, mood swings – our whole being can be affected both positively and negatively by what we eat. I know it’s a massive claim!

For years we have gone to the doctor with whatever our ailment and he has passed over some pills and we go away thinking we are cured. Except for many people, they aren’t. They still have chronic pain in their joints, they still have gut problems or they still have migraines.

Yet along the way, some little revolution starters have started to look outside of medicine and took things back to basics by looking at their diet. And to their surprise they found the answer to their problems.

I am already a great advocate of looking to our diets to try and manage or indeed cure many ailments and I know many of you have looked at me like I’m crackers (I am but that is a separate issue) but it seems I was right about the sugar before the celebrities and media caught onto it, so you may as well get on board with me on this now. Admittedly Professor Robert Lustig was light years ahead of me on the sugar thing but people thought he was mad too-eating their sugar free words now aren’t they!

Anyway back to the revolution.

Recently a great blog http://deliciouslyella.com/has been turned into a recipe book . Ella has a relatively rare illness, Postural Tachycardia Syndrome, which at its worst meant she struggled to walk down the street, slept for 16 hours a day, had never ending heart palpitations, was in chronic pain, had unbearable stomach issues and constant headaches . Ella tried healing through conventional medicine for about six months but it had little effect on her symptoms and she was still bed-ridden 95% of the time. So with nothing to lose she began researching natural healing approaches. This lead her to a whole foods, plant-based diet and she gave up all meat, dairy, sugar, gluten, anything processed and all chemicals and additives. And guess what????? It worked!!!! She is now a healthy woman who finds the energy to not only get out of bed but do loads of cooking and write a book.

Now I can already hear some of you saying “a life without dominoes and vino surely that’s a life not worth living! Well to you I ask this?

Would you rather live a life feeling uncomfortable, achy, lethargic, possibly in a lot of pain most of the time, to the point where you don’t feel like going out, you don’t have the energy to play with your kids, but you get to eat pizza and drink wine?


Would you rather live a life where you feel energetic, healthy, look and feel good, socialise care free and have loads of energy to chase your kids around the park whilst eating nourishing foods that with some experimentation and a few basic cooking skills are actually really tasty?

Now Ella, is certainly not a one off, Paul Chek, and Patrick Holford  are two great nutritionists who have been helping people solve ailments with nutrition where traditional medicine has failed for many years. But it has taken many years and I still don’t think they are their yet on the wider public radar. But maybe, just maybe as more and more people start to look for alternatives nutrition really will become a form of medicine.

So hopefully this has given you some “nourishing” food for thought. If you have any issues with your health and wellbeing that just don’t seem to have been completely solved by traditional medicine perhaps have a look a little closer to home and see what your body might be telling you about the food you are feeding it.

If you need help with something in particular feel free to shoot me an email back, or I would strongly recommend anyone interested in this area to look up Paul Chek and Patrick Holford.

Nicola x

PS. I am super proud of Mr A who has signed up to a 2 Year Nutrition Diploma with Body Type Nutrition Academy (Owner Ben Coomber also has a podcast you should check out if you want some great nutrition advice). Not only am I proud of him for taking the first step to potentially changing his career in the future,  helping people around him with their diets (including me !) but I’m also looking forward to some potential guest blogs in the future!