The diet choices that can ruin our lives

Camilla Fayed is putting the focus on nature, simplicity and balance in our food choices.

The diet choices that can ruin our lives

Do you have a food conscience? Do you try to eat a variety of fresh local foods that are in season? Camilla Fayed, author of Farmacy Kitchen Cookbook, is dedicating her life to that goal, encouraging healthy plant-based eating and conscious living. Her aim is to bring attention back to nature, simplicity and balance, and to make healthy eating fun. She explains her philosophy in her latest book.


One of the exciting things about making healthy food is the alchemy that happens when ingredients are combined in a specific way, creating something that tastes amazing and unlike anything you’ve tried before.

Food fuels our bodies and provides the catalyst for the chemical and biological transmissions that happen inside the cells and organs, providing us with the elements we need for energy creation and good health. The better the quality of fuel we give our bodies, the more good health, wellbeing and positive emotion we feel.

The intuition that ancient philosophers and traditional wellbeing systems such as Chinese medicine and Ayurveda had about the relationship between diet and health is once again coming to the fore as science explores this area. 

It is now accepted that the modern Western diet – high in processed foods and deficient in fresh wholefoods – is a major contributing factor to current levels of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and autoimmune diseases. Links are being discovered between diet and brain health, fertility and mental health.

Now that it is widely accepted that a poor diet has affected human health in a negative way, science is increasingly looking at the positive effects a good diet may have on our health and happiness – from the incredible anti-inflammatory properties of a spice such as turmeric, to the health-giving fermented foods that help replenish the good bacteria in the gut essential to addressing the digestive issues that affect so many people today.

At the heart of new food science is the message that a plant-based, wholefood diet with little or no processed food is one of the best ways to improve our health. Including foods and cooking techniques that support digestion – and reducing foods that strain digestion, such as meat, sugar, dairy products and gluten – allows the body to absorb more nutrients and enjoy new levels of energy. 

This goes back to our theme of simple abundance – cooking and eating foods that have had as little interference as possible from farm to fork.

Digestive health through alchemy of food
The alchemy of eating involves not just your food choices and the combination of foods you eat. It also means working with your body to eat complementary food groups that require the same sort of enzymes to digest food effectively.

Good digestion
Fresh organic vegetables and fruit are high in water, making them easily digestible.

The fibre in plant-based food helps to move the food through the body, speeding up transit time through the gut, resulting in less fermentation and putrefaction in the intestine. This is good for preventing diseases and improving digestive health. We need plenty of fibre to stay healthy.

Go for wholegrains rather than refined grains. Even if you’re not allergic to gluten, gluten-free wholegrains such as quinoa, millet and teff are easier to digest and free from the potential allergens present in some glutinous grains, such as wheat, barley and rye.

Eat food that helps your body produce healthy bacteria, including coconut yoghurt and fermented foods such as kimchi, miso and sauerkraut, all of which contain plant-based probiotics. These help the body to produce good bacteria to keep the gut in best condition.

Bad digestion
Processed food causes stress in the body and slows down digestion, depleting the body of nutrients and creating a feeling of low energy.

The body takes nutrients from other places in the body to aid digestion. Processed food has a negative impact on the immune system, too.

Both red meat and processed food have been linked to digestive cancers, such as liver and colon cancer. Try to avoid both in a healthy, plant-based diet.

Meat is hard to digest and can stay in the digestive tract for long periods because it lacks fibre and water. As a result, animal flesh may become stuck in the intestines as impacted faeces that can create toxicity inside the gut.

Making good food choices
Be aware of what is being served and whether it contains meat or other animal products.

Ask questions about the food you buy and eat. Get tested for food allergies and make changes to what you eat, if necessary. Common allergens include gluten, dairy products, nuts and corn.

Reduce or eliminate processed foods as much as possible.

Cut down or out: caffeine, fizzy drinks, alcohol, deep-fried food, refined sugar, refined grains, canned food, junk food, meat, meat products, non-organic soy.

Try mono meals from time to time – eating just one type of food at a meal – and see how it makes you feel and how much energy it gives you.

Choose a plant-based diet
The body needs a lot of energy to process unripe fruit. Fruit is packed with nutrients and contains high levels of fruit sugar (fructose) so should be eaten in moderation. In other words, don’t assume that eating as much fruit as possible is a good thing. Including fresh, ripe fruit in your diet is healthy in small amounts.

Eat fruit when it’s ripe. Sweet and acid fruits are best eaten separately to help you digest them better. Fruit should make up a maximum of 15 per cent of your daily food intake.

Melons are high in sugar. Eat them on their own and not with other foods.

Don’t eat fruits and vegetables together – digesting them requires different enzymes and the body digests them at different rates. Eating them at the same time can lead to bloating and gas.

When drinking fruit juice, dilute it with about 80 per cent natural, filtered water to make the juice more digestible.

Are you conscious of what you eat? Do you buy local produce? And only what is in season? Have you reduced the amount of meat you’re eating?

Camilla Fayed is the founder of the UK-based Farmacy restaurants. Her book, Farmacy Kitchen Cookbook, is available at all good bookshops.


    Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    19th May 2019
    A comment on bread. I have found eating homemade Sour Dough Bread has helped my Diabetic control more than when eating normal white or multigrain breads.
    19th May 2019
    Yes sourdough is easier to digest, I did a lot of research on sourdough, so I started making my own spelt sourdough, I have since stopped making it because I wanted to go gluten free and it is hard to make sourdough gluten free (still searching for a good recipe without eggs). The supermarket breads have far too many additives and preservatives and I believe they mess with your body too, not too mention there is not much nutrition in them,
    19th May 2019
    Advertising for a book, nothing here I never knew and I have been telling people the same thing here on YLC for free, and there is enough information for free on the internet not need to buy a book, it is quite simple, eat wholefoods first and foremost, preferable plant based. Choose farm fresh as much as possible, even better grow your own even if it is only a few leafy greens in a pot.
    pedro the swift
    19th May 2019
    Homemade?. My attempts at any homemade bread end up as door stops. I do prefer sourdough bread though. Lasts longer, better flavour and and not cotton wool in your mouth like most white bread.
    19th May 2019
    Yes making bread can be tricky but I found if you can source freshly ground flour it makes a difference and you do need a viable yeast or sourdough starter. Takes time to learn but not that hard once you get it.
    19th May 2019
    There can be few foods that are more highly processed than sauerkraut and fermented foods. Not saying they aren't good for you, but the Japanese eat a lot of pickled fish etc., and have a rate of stomach cancer that is higher than the western world.......cause or association?????? Probably thought to be cause as well as related to genetics.
    19th May 2019
    The hype of fermented foods is out of hand, it does not agree with your liver, when I had IBS it actually made it worse. I now do not eat anything fermented, and gave up sauces too.
    19th May 2019
    Musicveg, millions of Koreans would disagree with you. You anecdotes are relevant only to you and cannot be extrapolated into dietary advice for all. Mainly of course because it just isn't true.
    19th May 2019
    There is no proof that it is good for you. You only need to eat fresh food.
    19th May 2019
    Whete is your research that supports your opinion? Apart from the fact that all ancient civilisations have eaten fermented foods round the world, there is a ton of scientific evidence that disagrees with you. I'd would really like to see the research you have that says otherwise. And I mean that.
    19th May 2019

    A couple of articles I found,but google more and you will find more, research has been minimal so far. I also read about it in the Medical Medium books. I don't want to say they are not good for you there is just no proof, a lot of fermented foods are very high in salt, another reason I did not want to use them. I still think you get more benefits from eating fresh raw or steamed cabbage than sauerkraut for example. If you enjoy them and they make you feel better by all means go ahead and eat them, they are expensive to buy and time consuming to make too.
    20th May 2019
    I have read youjr evidence musicveg and cannot agree with your interpretation of the results. I do agree that more research is necessary but there are already clear indications that fermented foods are beneficial for most people.

    As for your asertion that fermented foods are bad for the liver, this is completely contra to research that was at The International Liver Congress 2018 in Paris, France and involved participants with compensated and decompensated chirrosis (Liver disease)! Dr Bajaj comments:

    "This study demonstrates that patients with cirrhosis have gut microbiota profiles that are highly responsive to dietary factors, and it is the first study to confirm a link between diet, microbial diversity and clinical outcomes in liver cirrhosis."

    As I have said before musicveg, your comments are anecdotal to you and cannot be exprapolated out into health advice for others no matter what you have 'read'.

    I actually support your belief that eating freah fruiot and vegs is a good thing and most people would help themselves by increasing thier consumption. I have been a vegetarian for over 50 years and clearly follow that advice. However, I do not make wild statements about whether a food will harm others, nor do I draw unrealistic conclusion based on personal anecdotes.

    As for Digby's assertion that Japan has the highest incidence of stomach cancer: actually they are the third highest behind Korea and Mongolia. The causes are mainly bacterium Helicobacter pylori; tobacco use; alcohol and possibly foods preserved by salting. Salting foods does not mean they are fermented! Consider salted fish for example or bacon! Fermented foods per se have not been implicated in stomach cancer - yet.
    20th May 2019
    HI KSS,
    Interested by your well considered comments. Mind you if you read closely I didn't say that Japan had the highest rate of gastric carcinoma, only that it was higher than the western world, (and interestingly adjusts to the lower rate when the Japanese for instance emigrate to USA). You may be interested in the following article "Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev., 21 (6) 905 -915, 2012." Whilst it is an article from a medical journal, it is available in the public domain. I agree with your comments about salt preservation etc., although sometimes the line is blurred between pure salting / pickling and fermentation. In the article it does suggest that there my be a relationship between kimchi consumption and carcinoma, in Korea. No doubt as in most cases of carcinomatous change (and many other illnesses) the causes are multifactorial and include genetic susceptibility. Like you I think the jury is out as to definitive cause as there are many factors to control for in any study. hence I agree with your last causal factor established in relation to such carcinoma as yet. The jury is out, but it is important to be aware of an association.

    Tags: food, health, plant, diet

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