My Top Five Health Books of 2017

My Top Five Health Books of 2017

While washing up the breakfast pots, cleaning the bathroom and making the bed this morning I have been humming and hah-ing over how many books I wanted to rant about for this post. You know what? I couldn’t figure it out. I read a lot of health books. Probably around fifteen a year. So I’ve set myself a challenge by typing in “My Top Five Health Books of 2017” as a heading in the hopes that I can narrow it down by the time I finish this post.

Do you get an idea of how fuzzy my head is today? I have a cold. I have been coughing, spluttering and moaning over and at anyone in my general vicinity for the last 48 hours. Possibly not the best day to write a health post. But I digress…

So here we go. The first one is easy. My most best and favouritist health book that I read this year (possibly ever) was Primal Fat Burner by Nora Gedgaudas. (I meant to review this ages ago, as I wrote here… ) It’s not, as you might think, a book about weight loss but a highly educational read on how humankind evolved on burning fat rather than carbohydrates as a primary energy source. If you want the ultimate geek-out background on the scientific, historical and contemporary evidence-based reasons to increase bone broth, bone marrow and organ meats into your diet then this is the place to start. This is no pop-paleo how-to; you won’t be encouraged to cram in steak, shop-bought salads and trendy paleo-treats. But you will learn exactly how much protein you really need (hint: far less than you think) why you want to avoid conventionally produced meat and vegetables; which oils and fats best benefit your brain and body;  and how to make the most incredible chimichurri sauce (this is not an exaggeration). Gedgaudas is a truly engaging writer too – if you buy no other health book ever, this would be the one I would recommend.

Right. What’s next? Hang on while I slurp some congestion-reducing herbal tea… Ah yes! Woman Code by Alisa Vitti. I’ve got to say, it is rather disconcerting for me that she uses the American slang for menstrual periods: Flo. So she references the monthly Flo frequently and her accompanying period tracker is called MyFLO. Almost everyone I know calls me Flo! But hey, if I can get my head around it then you should be able to too. So, Woman Code is a really useful call to recognising that a woman’s hormonal cycle reeaaalllly needs to be honoured when it comes to nutrition and lifestyle. Your energy levels, brain function and stress patterns vary a great deal throughout the four phases of your menstrual cycle (follicular, ovulatory, luteal and menstrual in case you were wondering) and trying to maintain a consistent workload and nutrient intake isn’t going to do you any favours. Ignoring these phases is like ignoring your body’s requirement to sleep at nightime and then trying to run a marathon the next day. If you are female and you ovulate then it would be worth picking this book up, or at least downloading the app.

In my current fuzzy-headed state it does seem a little ridiculous for me to be recommending a book on increasing your brain energy, but Head Strong by Dave Asprey provides a wealth of advice on how to do exactly that. With access to some of the most current research and out-of-the-box thinking Asprey has outlined practices ranging from dimming the lights at night to using pharmaceutical smart-drugs. From reducing brain inflammation (which shows up in brain fog, depression and memory loss) with his nutrition protocol; through a comprehensive guide to mitochondria-boosting meditation and to a thorough run-down of how to use supplements wisely; this book is a massive undertaking and is vital reading for anyone who feels that their brain is not functioning as well as it could. Talking of which, I need to go outside and get some sunlight. Back in a bit…

While sitting (and sneezing) in the sunshine on the front step just now it occurred to me that the next book on this list should be Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman. Now, this is a slight cheat on my 2017 book list because I originally read it in 2015 but, in my defence, I did re-read it this year. Bowman is a biomechanist; she looks at how the way we move affects us at a cellular level. In fact, I’m going to quote her explanation of mechanobiology here: “A relatively new field of science that focuses on the way physical forces and changes in cell or tissue mechanics contribute to development, physiology and disease.” The book takeaway is that it is movement rather than exercise that is key. She explains, in great but easily visualised detail, how every movement you make (or even don’t make) affect all of the tissues in your body; you will learn more about load variables than you thought possible in this book! If you want to know how to stand, walk, squat and rest with ease (and I’m telling you now that you do, even if you think you don’t!) then this is the book for you. Investing the time to read Bowman’s words and practice her exercises could save a great deal of discomfort both now and in years down the line.

My final favourite book of 2017 is, as yet, only half read because it was only released a couple of weeks ago and there are a hella lot of words! Renegade Beauty by Nadine Artemis is hard to describe but already makes it onto my list because it is a book that I have been looking forward to for months! Its focus is on beauty only inasmuch as a book’s focus is the book cover. As a book cover gives you clues as to the content, true skin radiance is only possible when the body and soul are nourished first. I have raved about her toothcare book here on this blog before and this long awaited “skincare” tome has not disappointed in the slightest. So, so much beautiful writing covering the importance of probiotics, sunlight, essential oils, holistic dental care, natural breast and “yoni” health, supporting pregnancy, natural haircare and cultivating immunity. While Renegade Beauty is no fluffy quick-fix book Artemis also provides easy, gorgeous, homemade recipes and solutions to alleviate common problematic skin conditions, which are safe for both adults and children.

There. I made it. I didn’t get to include lots of other lovely health books, but then this post is already a bit on the lengthy side. Maybe I’ll re-read the others for including in a 2018 post. Maybe I need to put away the massive pile of books covering my table. Maybe I need to go have a nap. Thanks for reading my lovelies and please let me know your health book recommendations in the comments. Atch-ooo!

Flo in Full Flow…

Flo in Full Flow…

Sorry, that is a ridiculously cheesy post title. Please forgive me…

Well, it’s nearly four weeks since I left my job and it feels good! My asthma has calmed down, my joints are aching and creaking less; my energy is gradually increasing and the brain fog is lifting. Boom! See ya evil black mould!!

The knock on effect of the brain fog lifting has been that I have been able to start doing some more concentrated work on my business and producing some information sheets for clients. I had forgotten the complete bliss of losing three hours at a stretch in flow state. I have written info sheets on Autumn Health Support, Sleep Tips, An Introduction to Cortisol and also Ten Ways You Can Support Your Cortisol Cycle; and I have loved writing every one!

I also noticed today that I have forgotten to drink coffee for the last few days. Forgotten! I have instead been experimenting with blending up some gorgeous elixirs with ingredients like dandelion coffee (from Paula Grainger and Karen Sullivan’s beautiful book Infuse), butter, nut butter, raw honey, cacao and maca root powder. Can I just say, right now, that this combination beats the taste of any hot chocolate I have ever had? And that, in the interest of full disclosure, I have drunk a LOT of hot chocolate in my time? I shall try and remember to measure the amounts next time so that I can give you a recipe!

Right. Flow state is all very well and good but I have now been at the laptop for four hours and that just ain’t healthy. Time to do such mundane but vital stuff as dragging the vacuum cleaner around the house, walking the dog and making some lunch. On which note, can I just tell you my major foodie revelation for the week? Brussels Sprouts, which I normally loathe, are really, really good when roasted in plenty of pork lard and with a liberal dusting of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Peace out…. xx


Autism South West 2017 and A Shameful Tale

Yesterday I got to speak about “Sugar, Stress and the Spectrum” at the Autism South West conference. Specifically I was building on Dr. Luke Beardon’s excellent equation: 

Autism + Environment = Outcome

to explain how internal stressors (internal environment,) such as high or erratic cortisol levels, change the outcome for any autistic person. 

Let me explain. Now it’s pretty well known that being in a supermarket (an external environment stressor) is highly stressful for autistic people (maybe for you too, but definitely if you are autistic.) When somebody is stressed their adrenals ramp up production of the hormone cortisol which raises blood sugar levels in order to deal with threats. (If you have to run away from a lion – you need glucose in your bloodstream to fuel that race for your life.) But unfortunately your body doesn’t distinguish between real or perceived threats. It just acts without question. 

What else happens when your cortisol is raised? Here’s one of my slides:

Now, think how difficult navigating a simple supermarket shop might be when your brain is affected like that… (This is why my shopping gets done online!) Imagine living in a world where a great deal of your environment causes the outcome of reduced abilities to remember, to regulate your mood and behaviour, to organise yourself and make good judgements?

Next in my talk we discussed how consuming excess carbohydrates quickly raises blood sugar levels, causing the body to employ insulin in order to reduce potentially dangerous levels. And then, because your body likes balance, it fires up our friend cortisol again, because low blood sugar is also a threat! The low blood sugar is an internal environment stressor. 

As far as autistic anxiety is concerned: being hunted by a lion = going to the supermarket = low blood sugar!

Anyway, we covered some other useful stuff too but, in the interest of brevity, that’s probably enough for you to understand my shameful behaviour yesterday evening. Shameful because I am a nutrition and health coach. Please don’t judge…

So the conference was fab! Well organised and with brilliant key-note speeches (Sarah Hendrickx and Dean Beadle) that made me both laugh and cry. But, you know, a conference is still a difficult environment for an autistic to navigate. And so my cortisol levels were pretty high…

Now I knew I had a fridge full of delicious and nutritious organic veg and meat at home. I could have rustled something nourishing up in 30 minutes flat. But my memory and good judgement failed me and I demanded we stop off at tesco for ready made pizza (the shame.) And I looked at those huge, insipid, crappy pizzas and could not for the life of me work out how many we’d need and which types we, as a family, would like. My husband found me crying in the chilled aisle and took over. At which point I wandered off and filled the basket with packets of biscuits. I had acted out my own talk perfectly! My high cortisol response had perfectly reflected my slide’s bulletpoints! Oh the irony…

A few things:

  1. If you’d like me to come and talk about diet and autism please contact me here. (Rest assured that I will prepare my evening meal in advance for future talks.)
  2. I didn’t actually eat the biscuits. I was asleep soon after the pizza!
  3. I’m not really ashamed of my choices yesterday. I’ve learned not to blame myself in those situations and am taking care to rest my adrenals today.  
I Left my Job!

I Left my Job!

I did it… I left my job! Hurrah! But why? Well, the reasons are threefold

  1. It was making me more ill than my pretty extensive health and nutrition knowledge and my resources could keep up with. A decidedly non-autistic-friendly working environment and worsening levels of black mould (which I am very sensitive to) have meant that my lungs and joints now hurt all the time and that my energy levels have sunk so low it’s ridiculous. 
  2. The knock on effect has been that I haven’t have the energy to build up my health and nutrition coaching practice which I truly love doing. 
  3. My already overworked husband has just started a part time doctorate and we didn’t want our girls to miss out on time and support. (I’m going to have to start putting the bins out now too – someone remind me on Monday nights please.)

So what am I planning on doing with that time? Regaining my health (absolute priority), building up my client base (yay!), getting super thrifty with the household budget (yikes!) learning to garden and crochet (help!), baking bread, running (ok, walking for now), drawing, walking, reading, studying and… blogging again! 

You should be hearing more from me in the near future. You have been warned…

Flojo’s Easy Detox Relaunch!

Flojo’s Easy Detox Relaunch!

Flojo’s Easy Detox online course is up and running again! Woohooooo! It’s a four week course designed to be easily accessible for everybody and anybody. And, as I take a health questionnaire from each client I am able to tailor the course to work around your specific health requirements. I am really proud of this course – I’ve worked on it to make it simple, effective and enjoyable and I reckon I’ve nailed it!

Each week I email out a worksheet tackling four general health tweaks to make – they could be as quick as doing a one minute breathing and visualisation exercise, as simple as reducing your reliance on caffeine or as delicious as trying out some of my super easy recipes free from sugar, gluten, dairy, soya and processed fats. Then, once you’ve let me know any questions or concerns you might have about the week ahead, I email you with advice that is unique to you in order to help you get the best out of the course. Would you like to hear how my tester panel got on?

“Change happens when you make small shifts. I feel like a tight knot has been loosened and I am so hugely excited and grateful.”

“After just a week of starting to re-programme my body and eating habits I felt energised and had a much more positive state of mind.”

“… sleeping, bloating, skin is all better!”

“I’ve loved feeling that I have someone alongside to guide me and make it a personal experience. I’ve never felt awkward asking questions, and I’ve had some really good personalised responses to push me in the right direction.”

“I’ve felt  supported, held and not judged – which is major for me.”

“Your nutritional practice is amazing! I’m in awe of your knowledge!”

“I’m feeling more energised and more in control.”

“My skin feels softer and the dry patches on my elbows have vanished!”

“I really enjoy starting the day, more awake from a better night’s sleep, and feeling refreshed”

“I found it gave me the confidence to make lots of other subtle incremental changes and that has had a knock on effect on everything from work to relationships!”

And those are just some of the lovely comments I’ve been getting in feedback!

Until the end of September 2017 Flojo’s Easy Detox course will cost a one-off payment of £40 for which you get the following:

  • A detailed preparation sheet complete with shopping list for any out-of-the-ordinary ingredients and products.
  • A questionnaire in which you get to outline your current health conditions and concerns so that I can tailor the course for you where necessary.
  • A worksheet for each of the four weeks that is designed to help you look and feel better each week, without any sense of overwhelm.
  • A weekly personal email from me for each of the four weeks, and also a follow up email at the end of the course.

If you’d like to do the course please contact me here. I look forward to working with you!

Flojo’s Easy Detox Online Course Re-launch!

Eighteen months ago I wrote the following in my blog post Defining Detox.

“When I put Flojo’s Easy Detox together (workshops and online coaching) a few years ago I believed detox to be the process of releasing toxicity at cellular level and enabling this rubbish to leave the body in an orderly fashion: quietly and calmly (much as you should leave a building during a fire); thus allowing the body to work more efficiently.

Over the past year I’ve revised my opinion. I now see effective detoxing as the release and removal of anything and everything that doesn’t enrich your life. Call it detox, call it de-cluttering, call it healing, call it minimalism. If it doesn’t contribute to your well-being physically, mentally or emotionally, it’s time to acknowledge it and wave a firm but polite goodbye. In a few years I hope to re-start a detox programme with this approach at its fore.”

And, with this in mind I have been rewriting the course and shall be ready to re-launch Flojo’s Easy Detox online course on June the 12th 2017! Woohoo!!

I’ve got some lovely people trialling the course at the moment. They are currently busy trying out my new recipes, visualisation exercises, naturopathic techniques and easy bio-hacks etc. In return, I’m getting lots of feedback from them which I’m using to make sure that I’ve created an even more effective, approachable, enjoyable and delicious course than before!

It’s a six week course, with an additional preparatory week for filling in questionnaires and buying in a few, inexpensive ingredients etc. Every Sunday morning I send out a worksheet (complete with recipes and plans) and a few questions. Every Sunday evening my clients answer those questions and send me feedback on how they are doing; and then, every Monday morning, I send them a detailed personal email. This means that I can encourage, make tweaks to suit individual goals and health requirements, and provide a uniquely personalised approach.

But, I really do want to ensure that this course is not just great, but exceptional! That it reads well, that the email format works, that the recipes cater to varying tastes and that the results inspire clients to really engage with the course and see it through. So I’d like to see one more round of testers working through the course a couple of weeks before paying clients sign up.

Lovely readers – I have one tester lined up ready and waiting and so I have space for two more! If you would like to be part of the trial you will need to be ready to actually start your six week detox course on the 29th May (your preparation sheet will be emailed on the 22nd May) and be committed to sending me detailed, regular feedback throughout the course.

If you are interested in the opportunity to experience the unique benefits of Flojo’s Easy Detox online course at no cost; and also to help shape the content for future clients please send me an email me at by noon (GMT) of the 19th of June. Tell me why you’d like to trial the course and I will choose two people to take part. (All being well, I will reply to all emails that same day.)

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Cleaning up Your Tooth Care Routine

Cleaning up Your Tooth Care Routine

Flojo’s Easy Detox Tip #9

Coming up for two years ago I decided that toothpaste wasn’t doing me or my family any favours. Despite cycling through various and increasingly expensive brands we still all had sensitive teeth, my husband’s teeth required frequent dental work and my daughters had tiny but resistant plaque deposits. At the time I was reading up a lot on the zero-waste movement and using bicarbonate of soda / sodium bicarbonate as a toothpaste alternative was recommended in order to cut down on plastic toothpaste tubes ending up in landfill. Hmmm…

So we tried brushing with bicarbonate of soda. Not a great taste and the powder was rather abrasive. But our teeth gradually became less sensitive, my husbands stains from his black coffee habit began to disappear (he has not needed any dental treatment at all since ditching toothpaste) and my daughters both lost those plaque deposits.

Thanks to zero-waste I also found out that billions of plastic toothbrushes are sent to landfill every year! These will not biodegrade in landfill, and many end up in the sea where marine life consume them. We immediately swapped over to bamboo toothbrushes which we chuck in our compost bin once the bristles become splayed.

Then last year I heard a ReWild Yourself podcast with Nadine Artemis and was inspired to buy her excellent book on Holistic Dental Care. And I was pleased to have it confirmed by her that quitting conventual toothpaste had been a Very Good Decision!Here’s a very brief lowdown on just some of the ingredients in toothpaste (taken from Artemis’ book)

Flouride: a massive disruptor of your body’s chemistry and damager of gums. Propylene Glycol: commonly used as an antifreeze and so irritates your mucous membranes. Triclosan: an antibacterial agent that interferes with your mouth’s natural microbiome. Ethanol: indicated in cases of mouth cancer. Detergents and surfactants: irritants and increasing skin permeability. Trisodium phosphate: can cause bleeding gums and inflamed nerves. Glycerin: coats the teeth and so blocks the saliva from remineralising the enamel.

Previous to reading her book I had been using coconut oil as an oil puller to good effect but the taste was tending to make me gag a bit so we started using salt water as a pre-clean mouth rinse. (In the picture above you’ll see a shot glass of pink Himalayan salt but you can use sea or rock salt too.) Salt rinse benefits? Wound healing, improves the mouth’s microbiome (i.e. makes the mouth’s environment inhospitable to “bad” bacteria but more welcoming to the “good” bacteria!), freshens breath, reduces inflammation and is pH balancing. A pinch of salt in a shot glass of warm water is all you need.

We’ve also experimented a bit with adding different ingredients to the bicarbonate of soda. Bentonite clay dulls down the salty taste and is a good detoxifier for the mouth. Xylitol doubles both as a sweetener and improving the mouth’s microbiome. Activated charcoal is a great tooth whitener. But when I got annoyed with having a bathroom cupboard full of packets of powder I opted to buy a ready made tooth powder. Our current jar, from Laila London contains: calcium carbonate, clove bud powder*, peppermint*, ginger powder*, lemon peel powder*, cinnamon* and activated coconut charcoal* (* certified organic.) It tastes great too!

Because I am rather finicky about oral care (seven teeth extracted due to overcrowding and both bodged and painful orthodontic work mean that the teeth I have left are rather precious to me!) I also use dental floss (I buy a silk floss rather than a plastic one) and a copper tongue scraper twice a day.

If you aren’t convinced that what you use to clean your teeth isn’t that important because you spit it all out anyway it’s worth remembering knowing this: the mouth spray is the fastest acting of Nicotine Replacement Therapy products. One squirt to the side of the mouth and the nicotine is absorbed through the mouth lining and delivered directly into the blood stream where it starts to work on cravings in 60 seconds. Have a look at the list of toothpaste ingredients again. Think about whether you want to give them such a fast and effective delivery system to your entire body!

Tell me your tips for detoxing your oral health. I’d love to hear them!