Wellness + Nutrition

Gut Health Explained Gut Health Explained

23rd April 2018

The topic of Gut Health is often discussed in the media, various books have been published on the subject and there is on-going scientific research on how our ‘Gut Health’ can be linked to our overall good health (and on the flip side; many diseases).

Could it be that optimal health, mood and our ability to fight disease resides in our gut? In fact our gut is often referred to as our ‘second brain’.

But which foods and lifestyle practices promotes optimal gut health? Terminology such as the ‘Microbiome’ or Micriobiota may be unfamiliar to you, but they simply refer to the community of internal ‘bugs’ or good bacteria in your digestive system, and more specifically in the large intestine. Our digestive tracts are populated by symbiotic bacteria that regulate, affects and assists with every single body function we have.

In more detail, our microbes are responsible for:

  • Converting sugars to short chain fatty acids for energy.
  • Crowding out pathogens (bad bacteria).
  • Digesting food
  • Helping your body absorb nutrients such as calcium and iron
  • Keep your Ph. balanced
  • Maintaining the integrity of the gut lining
  • Metabolising drugs
  • Modulating genes
  • Neutralising cancer-causing compounds
  • Producing digestive enzymes
  • Synthesizes B-complex vitamins
  • Synthesizes fat-soluble vitamins
  • Synthesizes hormones
  • Training the immune system to distinguish friend from foe

Below I dive a little more deeply into how our immunity, risk of inflammation, mood and weight management can be influenced by our gut health:


In modern society where cancer, digestive- and auto-immune disease is rife, science is discovering the connection between gut health and a strong or weak immune system. Our microbes are in charge of the correct gene expression, which means our microbes can switch gene expression on, or off, as well as having the ability to crowd out the bad guys, making our gut health an essential component in a strong immune system that wages war against disease, not against our own bodies

Researcher’s findings suggest that 70 per cent of the immune system lives in the gut and gut bacteria assist your immune system’s T cells to develop—teaching them the difference between a foreign substance and the body’s own tissues. This is an extremely important process that determines how and what your immune system responds to, and the success of this critical process is determined, in part, by the health of your gut. When there’s a mistake in the process, for instance; if there is an overgrowth of bad bacteria, it can lead your body’s immune system to begin waging war on your own cells, the hallmark of autoimmune disorders.

Inflammation & Leaky Gut Syndrome:

In addition to regulating our immune responses, on-going research also suggests that our microbes regulate which particles pass through the intestinal lining into the rest of your body. Healthy digestive tracts are designed with small gates that allow digested foods to pass while keeping out larger food particles and other antigens (foreign particles that cause immune reactions). However in a leaky gut, the gates in the intestinal lining have become damaged by a western diet rich in refined- and gluten-rich foods, once the gut’s lining has been compromised with these perforations, it allows large food particles and unwanted substances to enter the rest of the body. Once inside, they are rightly treated as foreign invaders and cause immune reactions that trigger inflammation, and in turn inflammation triggers disease.

With its roles in training your immune system and acting as a gatekeeper to the rest of your body, the gut is arguably the centre of your health. For those with arthritis and other autoimmune conditions whose symptoms are exacerbated or created by poor gut health, healing the gut can help reverse their conditions. For everyone else, healing the gut makes developing an autoimmune condition, food sensitivity, and/or inflammation less likely.


Weigh management:

We have always known that there is a communication pathway from our gut to the brain, but what science has discovered recently is that messages from the gut to brain doesn’t simply just say “feed me”, messages from the gut also tell our brain which foods to choose, in other words by restoring your gut health, your cravings can be controlled and changed from unhealthy- to healthy foods, promote feelings of satiety and extract fewer calories from food.


On-going studies indicate there could be a link between intestinal dysfunction, depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter; it is responsible for regulating mood, appetite, and sleep. The right amount of serotonin in the brain produces a relaxed and positive outlook. As it turns out, approximately 90% of the serotonin in the body is located in the gut. Can we treat depression, anxiety, and behavioral problems by normalizing the bacteria in the bowels? Perhaps by addressing gut health one can also move from chronic low mood to chronic good mood.

Wellness + Nutrition

Secret Supper Club Second Spring Edition

19th September 2017
Hello mid-September, and welcome to the Secret Supper Club where you are bound to be inspired to become the healthiest you.
In this edition I am sharing my fermented veggie recipes that are brimming with probiotics and not only fight aging, but boost your immune system and energy levels. I am also sharing one of my favourite articles from Mind Body Green on which foods to avoid and include for youthful, radiant skin.

It’s possible to erase years from your face simply by changing your diet. I know this first-hand because ten years ago, I didn’t look younger than my age. In fact, I was starting to look wrinkly, washed-out and old. So I changed my lifestyle and cut out pro-aging foods like sugar and grains, and started eating a natural, primal diet to slow the aging process. And when I focused on eating anti-aging superfoods, I started to reverse the signs of aging — especially in my face. What’s more, I’ve seen this same transformation over and over again in my patients. When they add these superfoods to their diets, they start looking younger almost immediately and over time, they often reverse more than a decade of aging. Here are the most powerful wrinkle-fighting foods I’ve discovered through my clinical and personal experience. If you want soft, young-looking skin, I recommend making them the core of your beauty ritual.


#1 Bone Broth
Wrinkles form when your skin breaks down. To erase these wrinkles, you need to boost your collagen levels not by rubbing on creams, but by mainlining collagen directly to your cells. How? With collagen-rich bone broth (Read more in our first spring edition). Bone broth is better than wrinkle creams or Botox because it lasts.


#2 Foods rich in omega-3’s
Think of aging skin cells as slightly deflated balls. Omega-3 fatty acids plump up the walls of these cells, making them bouncy again. To get plenty of omega-3s, eat fatty fish and walnuts, or take a high-quality omega-3 supplement.


#3 Amino Acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of collagen and elastin, which are both vital to healthy skin. A diet high in essential amino acids (which the body can’t make on its own) helps keep your skin firm and elastic, while a deficiency makes it thin and dry. Meat and eggs are your best sources for essential amino acids.


#4 Potassium-rich foods
Here’s a tip I give my patients: Switch from regular table salt to sea salt. Why? Regular salt pulls water out of your cells, leaving them flabby and prone to promoting wrinkles. But sea salt, which is high in potassium, does just the opposite. It pulls water into your cells, making them firm. You can also get skin-hydrating potassium from fruits and veggies, nuts, meat, poultry and fish.


#5 Fermented foods
A radiant gut translates into radiant and wrinkle-free skin, while a bad gut is a leading cause of skin aging. That’s because good gut bacteria help keep your body well supplied with the nutrients your skin thrives on. Bad bacteria, on the other hand, can cause a leaky gut and allow toxins to escape your intestines and create inflammation throughout your body — including your skin. The result? Sick, blotchy, old-looking skin. To improve your gut health, eat fermented foods like kimchee, kvass or my simple and delicious mixed veggie ferment below. Make sure you buy refrigerated brands, which contain large amounts of live bacteria.


#6 Green and yellow vegetables
Vegetables are loaded with antioxidants, helping prevent oxidative stress (damage to cells caused by free radicals). So it’s not surprising that a study of Japanese women found that a higher intake of green and yellow vegetables (along with a higher intake of healthy fats) reduces wrinkling.


#7 Green Tea
Like veggies, green tea is loaded with antioxidants. Research shows that it protects your skin against sun damage — the primary cause of wrinkles.

Beetroot Juice
#8 Phytoceramides Phytoceramides are a naturally occurring constituent of skin and help to keep it hydrated. Found in beets and spinach, they offer similar benefits. Recently, the FDA approved phytoceramides in nutritional supplement form based on research showing that they can help heal dry, rough, wrinkle-prone skin.

Wrinkle-fighting foods protect your skin in a variety of ways. Some them hydrate your skin, some build strong cell walls, some guard against sun damage, while others protect against free radicals. What’s more, these foods often work together, boosting each other’s power. Combine them, and you’ll get far more wrinkle-fighting power than each one offers on its own. So if you’re serious about looking younger than you are, add all of these foods to your diet — and eat them daily if you can. My guess is that within days, you’ll start to see a difference and within months, your skin will look so much youngerthat people may start asking: “Did you have a facelift?”


Fills one preserving jar
1 large savoy cabbage or Napa cabbage
¼ cup of sea salt
Filtered water (see instructions for amount)

2 cloves of finely grated garlic
1 small (thumb size) knob of finely grated ginger
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 tablespoon of fish sauce (can be replaced with water)
1 tablespoon of water
1 teaspoon of red pepper or chilli flakes
6 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced

You will need:
Silicone / surgical gloves (optional)
Sterilised preserving jar

Remove the core from the cabbage and then slice it in 2.5cm wide ribbons, lengthways. Add the cabbage and salt to the largest bowl in your kitchen, start massaging (wearing the gloves) the salt into the cabbage until the cabbage releases some fluid and begins to soften.

Next add enough water to cover the top layer of cabbage and next put a plate with something heavy to weigh it down on top like a jar of preserves for example. Leave it to stand this way for 1 hour.

After 1 hour has passed, rinse the cabbage under cold water twice, then let it drain in a colander and set it aside for using later.

Start on making the paste by mixing the garlic, ginger, fish sauce, water, sugar and red pepper together in a bowl to form a paste.

Gently squeeze/ press any remaining water from the cabbage and then return it to your large bowl along with the spring onions and paste. Using your hands (and this is where the gloves come in handy, gently work the paste into the cabbage and onions thoroughly.

Once all the cabbage is coated evenly transfer it to a preserving jar, packing it tightly and pressing down onto the top surface when the jar is filled so that the saucy brine covers the surface of the cabbage. Also be sure to leave at least 2cm of ‘headspace’ above the surface of the brine/sauce.

Storing & fermenting: Then seal the jar well with its lid and store the fermenting kimchi at room temperature for 2-5 days, it depends on the season and you should open the jars once a day to let it release its gasses (you read right 🙂 ) and press down on the cabbage to ensure it is still submerged under the brine/ sauce. Also, be warned, Kimchi can be smelly whilst fermenting it has a typically strong smell due to the garlic, fish sauce and onions. After 2 days (in summer) 4-5 days (in winter) of room temperature fermenting, transfer the jars to the fridge and start enjoying this wildly delicious condiment with meals.

Simple cultured vegetables:

Fills one preserving jar

3 large organic carrots, washed but not peeled
1 small head of organic red cabbage
1.5 tablespoons of sea salt
Filtered water, boiled (see instructions for the quantity)
1 preserving jar

Using organic carrots is important as you want to ovoid the pesticides and reap the benefits of the extra nutrition in organic carrots multiplying during the fermenting. Start by grating the thoroughly washed carrots, and then remove the core and outer layers of the red cabbage, shredding the rest in a food processor.

Mix both the grated & shredded cabbage in a large bowl and then pack it tightly into sterilised preserving jars, leaving at least 2 cm head space at the top. Lastly fill the jar with the brine water (dissolve the salt properly in boiled water before adding the water to the jar). The brine should cover the surface of the vegetables. See below for fermenting & storing instructions


Fills one large jar

4-6 medium organic beetroot, quartered
1.5 tablespoons of sea salt
Filtered water, boiled (see instructions for the quantity)
1 large preserving jar

With a vegetable brush, scrub the beetroot thoroughly and then top, tail and quarter them, leaving their skin on and then pack them into the jar.

Lastly fill the jar with the brine water (dissolve the salt properly in boiled water before adding the water to the jar). The brine should cover the surface of the Beetroot.

Storing & fermenting Simple Cultured Vegetables & Kvass: 
Then seal the jar well with its lid and store the fermenting vegetables at room temperature for 2-5 days, it depends on the season and you should open the jars once a day to let it release its gasses and press down on the veggies to ensure it is still submerged under the brine. After 2 days (in summer) and 4-5 days (in winter) of room temperature fermenting, transfer the jars to the fridge and start enjoying the fermented vegetables with meals. The vegetables will acquire a tart, pickled taste.

Health Benefits of fermented vegetables and kimchi 

Kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean delicacy, it is crammed with vitamins and minerals and antioxidants that multiply during the fermentation process. But the best part about Kimchi or any other fermented vegetables is that it is an extremely rich source of probiotics, or otherwise known as beneficial micro-flora in the form of Lactobacillus which is hugely important for good digestion and an a strong immune system. Kvass is particularly good for liver cleansing and in the case of Kvass the brine as well as the beetroot pieces is consumed.

The Real Things Green Powder Supplement 
Get this great wholefood supplement in a convenient tablet form. It’s full of green things from land, sea and fresh water; organic wheat, barley and alfalfa grasses; seven sea vegetables AND chlorella. Now that’s powerful. https://www.faithful-to-nature.co.za/the-real-thing-green-power-tablets

Oh-Mega Almond Butter Sachets – high in Omega 3 and other good fats, this fabulous product also comes in handy sachets for a power snack on the go.
This is a 100% natural nut butter that is thick, rich and deliciously smooth. Slightly sweet with a velvety texture, Oh Mega’s almond butter is the perfect alternative to peanut butter. Packed with protein and essential minerals, it’s incredibly good for you. Spread it over toast in the morning, use it when you’re baking, add a dash to your smoothies or even use it to give another flavour dimension to your salad dressings. A tasty, wholesome spread your family will love. Proudly South African. https://www.faithful-to-nature.co.za/oh-mega-almond-nut-butter

Wellness + Nutrition

Secret Supper Club First Spring Edition

13th September 2017
Hello sexy September and Spring! Welcome to your first edition of this month’s Secret Supper Club, in this feature we are addressing foods to heal your gut, these guys are truly superfood rock-stars.
As always we are honoured and excited to be part of your journey to your best health.

Now you can order your health food ingredients directly from Faithful To Nature from here, and at fabulous discounts too, exclusively available only to you as a Secret Supper Club member.

If you suffer from leaky gut syndrome, you’re overdue to consider adopting a leaky gut diet. Here are the five foods and supplements to heal your leaky gut.

#1 Bone Broth
broth contains collagen and the amino acids proline and glycine that can help heal your damaged cell walls. I’ve had many of my patients do a bone broth fast for three days to help heal leaky gut and cure autoimmune disease. See our recipe below!

#3 Fermented Vegetables & raw cultured dairy like kefir
contain organic acids that balance intestinal pH and probiotics to support the gut. Sauerkraut, kimchi and kvass are excellent sources. Raw Cultured Dairy – contains both probiotics and SCFA’s that can help heal the gut.  Pastured kefir, yogurt, amasai, butter and raw cheese are some of the best.

#3 Prebiotic rich foods
which actually simply means all fruits and vegetables, in fact when visiting your local supermarket the fruit & veggie aisle should have a big flashing neon light thatread’s Prebiotics! Some veggies and fruit are more beneficial than others. Onions, leeks, artichokes and asparagus really are the cream of the crop and when it comes to fruit bananas rules 9the greener the better).

There are many supplements that support your digestive health; here are my 3 top choices:

#1 Probiotics are the most important supplement to take because it helps replenish good bacteria and crowds out bad bacteria. I recommend getting probiotics in both food and supplement form. See below our Secret Crush of the month on which product we think is best, and it also contains prebiotics!

#2 Digestive enzymes (one or two capsules at the beginning of each meal) ensure that foods are fully digested, decreasing the chance that partially digested foods particles and proteins are damaging your gut wall.

#3 L-Glutamine is critical for any program designed to heal leaky gut. Glutamine powder is an essential amino acid supplement that is anti-inflammatory and necessary for the growth and repair of your intestinal lining. L-glutamine benefits include acting as a protector: coating your cell walls and acting as a repellent to irritants. Take 2–5 grams twice daily.

Featured recipe 
  • 5 liters of filtered water
  • 1 whole chicken carcass (choose from a organic, grass-fed chicken supplier)
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 large carrot, roughly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of turmeric
  • 3  heaped tablespoons of pink salt or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • Faithful to nature’s Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Health Connections Apple Cider Vinegar – Unfiltered 
This cloudy apple cider vinegar from Health Connection has been made with locally grown apples and is free of preservatives and additives. It is cloudy and contains sediment because it has not been filtered, which means that it continues to ferment after it has been bottled. This creates a delicious fruity touch to itsflavour and leaves more of the nutrients in the vinegar. For centuries, people have been using natural apple cider vinegar as both a food and a medicine for themselves and for their pets. Since 400BC, Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, and many others, have used vinegar and vinegar mixed with honey, as a natural detox treatment, an energising tonic and a healing elixir.
Buy it directly at a lovely little discount from Faithful to Nature here


The plant-based version:


3 eggs, beaten
½ cup milk
½ cup cream
For the topping:
Salt & milled black pepper to taste
3 bay leaves
2 tsp turmeric
3 tbsp medium curry powder
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
2–3 tbsp garam masala
125ml store-bought fruit chutney
10 peppercorns
4 x 400g cans lentils, drained & rinsed
2 carrots, grated
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 large onions, chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

For the lentils:
ingredients except bay leaves; stir well. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes.
Transfer the lentil mixture to an ovenproof dish; smooth over the top. Arrange the bay leaves on top.
For the topping:
Beat together topping ingredients. Pour over the lentil mixture and bake for about 45 minutes or until the topping is golden and set.
To serve: Serve bobotie warm with a fresh side salad of your choice.

Super-fast, delicious & nutritious meal that can be breakfast, lunch or supper


Mushroom, spring onion & baby spinach eggs

  • 4 large organic/ grass fed eggs, whisked well
  • 1 small punnet of Mushrooms, remove stem and slice them in half
  • 1 table spoon of Tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated finely
  • 1 small bunch of spring onions, sliced
  • Cold pressed coconut oil
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • Pin salt to taste



Fry the onions in the coconut oil until they start o soften, then add the garlic and sauté for a further 2 minutes, next add the tamari/ soy sauce and lemon juice and sauté for a further 2 minutes, then transfer the mushroom/ onion mix to a bowl.
Using the same pan, but adding some more coconut oil add the whisked eggs and then over medium heat scramble. When the eggs are almost done add the mushrooms/ onion mix to reheat and serve soon after.


Lunch box idea
Happy Earth People 100% Red Lentil Fusilli Pasta https://www.faithful-to-nature.co.za/happy-earth-people-100-red-lentil-fusilli-pasta Pesto Princess Basil & Lemon Pesto    

This is the ultimate alternative to pasta, made from red lentils it is high in protein, fibre, iron and is gluten & grain free, which makes this perfect for those suffering from gluten/ wheat intolerance.
Simply boil the fusilli as per package instructions, then drain well and stir through Pesto Princess Basil pesto, cool and store in the fridge for lunch boxes.

Breakfast, Crushes + Product Reviews, Wellness + Nutrition

3 Minute Superfood Smoothie Health Connections Superfood Leafy Green Mix

5th August 2017

These days life seems to more hectic than usual for me, hence my 3 minute green smoothie which nourishes me most mornings without too much fuss.

Just as the 3 minute smoothie I am keeping my post short & sweet.

I have recently fallen head over heels for Health Connections Superfood Green Leafy Powder, it is well priced and easy to get hold of from most supermarkets, but most importantly it has exceptionally nutrient dense ingredients which will add a significant punch to your daily nutrient consumption.

This smoothie isn’t ‘heavy’, and therefore just perfect to drink before your yoga, gym etc.

Here goes

  • 2 oranges – one juiced and the other one peeled and quartered
  • 1 banana
  • two heaped tablespoons of Health Connections Superfood Green Leafy Mix – buy it here from Faithful to Nature

Throw all the above in your nutri-bullet or blender and drink in the car if need be 😉  

Pssst……click here and visit our Faithful To Nature collaboration store on the Secret Supper Club page to purchase your very own Nutri Bullet at a fabulous little discount)

Until next time and always in dedication to your best health,

Marlien x


Wellness + Nutrition

Is Coconut Oil Really That Good For You? Is Coconut Oil Really That Good For You?

11th July 2017

I have been advising the use of coconut oil for years, but recently there have been many articles in the media ‘debunking’ the health properties of coconut oil. Here is my opinion, as well as link to a couple of articles on the subject which I think is well balanced and based on scientific research.

When choosing an oil/ fat to cook with I do advise using cold pressed coconut oil, it has a high smoking point which means it doesn’t become toxic like olive oil during cooking. it also has a delightful taste and other health benefits such as NOT containing omega 6 fatty acids which leads to heart disease as well as being a good source of medium chain fatty acids. read the below two paragraphs and the links to their sources for a more detailed explanation.

‘The smoking point of olive oil corresponds to 280 degrees Fahrenheit, which is relatively low and implies that olive oil should not be heated at high temperatures. The smoking point of coconut oil is 350 F, making more appropriate for cooking at moderate temperatures. Cooking above the smoking point of an oil is not recommended and can lead to the formation of compounds that could be harmful for your health. Olive oil is usually liquid at room temperature but becomes solid in the refrigerator, while coconut oil is hard when kept in the refrigerator and can be either solid or liquid at room temperatures because of its melting point of 76 F.’

which is better: coconut-oil-or-olive-oil – LIVESTRONG

You may have heard that coconut oil is high in saturated fats, artery clogging and dangerous. The truth is, the medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) found in coconut oil are rare in nature and highly health beneficial. MCFA are digested by the body in a different way than the common long chain fatty acids (LCFA) found in most other foods. MCFA are quickly digested, producing energy instead of body fat and arterial plaque like LCFA. About 50 percent of the MFCA in coconut oil is lauric acid, which strengthens the immune system and is also found in human breast milk. Caprylic acid and capric acid are also present, contributing to coconut oil’s antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties.

medium chain fatty acids – LIVESTRONG

Coconut oil has been touted as a superfood, but is coconut oil just a health fad, and actually bad for us, it is after all very high in saturated fats, traditionally believed to have been the major cause of heart disease. Well, here is my opinion; saturated fats are not necessarily the culprit of heart disease. More and more research now reveals that heart disease is caused mainly by refined & processed foods as well as trans fats and sugar. Humans need some saturated fats, but as with everything we need to keep balance in mind. When choosing coconut oil instead of other vegetable oil such as sunflower oil, canola, corn oil etc, you are still making a healthier choice, click on the link below to see some of the reasons why this is true.

Perhaps it is wise to use coconut oil in small quantities when cooking, and occasionally add it to a coffee when doing intermittent fasting, or add it to a smoothie before a workout. The jury is still out on whether or not it can be labeled as a superfood, but when it comes to eating a clean balanced diet I still believe that coconut oil can most definitely play an important part in living your healthiest life. Quality over quantity is once again true here.

In dedication to your best health


Is Coconut Oil Healthy? (The American Heart Association Doesn’t Think So)