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Overcoming IBS & reactive skin with an anti-inflammatory plant-based diet


Star Seed Investor Evening Emilie Jaspers and Ed Pycraft Taylor Morris

Hello Star Seeds and people of the Earth!


It's Emilie here, writing to you from Barnes, where we are very excited to receive 5-star rated spa treatments at Grey Wolfe, the beginning of a new collaboration.


I returned last night from a wonderful trip to Copenhagen, seeing my lovely Danish family. Life can be crazy, and sometimes we need to take a step back to appreciate the good things around us. Over the last few months, Ed and I have been working hard to take Star Seed to new heights. Excited to share that we have brought on new retailers, designed our new refillable packaging, and fundraising, which is successfully progressing.


This week, I would like to share something that has been impinging very greatly on my health: my gut. Through years of experimenting with medication, treatments and often a feeling close to giving up, I have finally been able to re-balance my gut through an anti-inflammatory diet. As a bonus, I have been blessed with calmer skin, ridding of the previous daily skin hives. As someone who has struggled with IBS for many years, I have tried almost every diet out there. The anti-inflammatory diet looks different for everyone, depending on what allergies and sensitivities we have, that cause irritation & inflammation. It also depends on what food is available in our local grocery stores and to a large extent, our budget.


But there is no doubt in my mind, that in order to calm and soothe a super sensitive system & IBS, eating an anti-inflammatory plant-based diet is the best way to obtain a strong microbiome, both in the gut and on our skin. This in turn builds resilience in our immune system, so we can handle the many stress factors affecting our skin and gut health, including exposure to sun, air pollution, a busy work life, hormonal cycles, harsh tap water and the occasional food on the go.


Ed and I have been on a gut-healing journey for many years. Mine started in China, 10 years ago, when I caught a harrowing water-borne parasite on a climbing trip.


I had mimicked my best friend Martine’s route up the mountain wall, 23 meters up a slippery slope. It was extremely challenging and tiring. We bought some water at the side of the road, went climbing and as we got back to our hostel, all hell broke loose. I have never been so sick in my life, paralysed in bed for 24 hours, everything green and black.



In the months that followed, we both experienced growing permanent damage, and over the next few years I got more and more sick. When I eventually went to Tanzania 5 years later, ironically building WASH facilities for school girls, I reached a breaking point and was taken to the local hospital, where the good doctors sent me home to rest. I had no time to rest, building the bamboo latrine to finish a degree in Sustainable Architecture, so after a day at home, I went back to the building site, pushing my body to the breaking point. In this period, I had been in close dialogue with an incredible dietitian, who had finally put me on an elimination diet. We narrowed down the diet to easy steamed vegetables, rice, nuts and a bit of fresh papaya.


As soon as I got back to Denmark, I went to hospital and they realised the parasite Giardia duodenalis was in full bloom, and they decided to put me on a super aggressive antibiotic course, leaving me paralysed again, now in bed for a whole week, unable to even leave the room. Along with most of the parasite, it unfortunately killed off what little good bacteria I had left in my gut. From the list of long-term side effects of Giardiasis, food allergies and IBS are very common.



Finishing the elimination diet, we discovered the most inflammatory foods (and I do realise everyone is different, but there is a pattern and we’ll write another article specifically on those inflammatory foods & drinks that can cause eczema, rosacea, outbreaks & hives). At this stage, I had cut out coffee, dairy, alcohol, spices, meat, fish & sugar. What was left, when I started re-introducing foods, was a strange allergy to the allium family - garlic, onion, leeks etc.


A Moscow Biology Study found that garlic & onion have antibiotic qualities meaning that for sensitive systems, like mine, they can kill off both the good and the bad bacteria. Although garlic contains small amounts of pre-biotics '(foods for the friendly gut bacteria)' the high sulphur content in raw garlic can harm the probiotics, rather than feed them. If you struggle with gut health or constant hives & itchy skin, I recommend trying to avoid the allium family for a 4-6 week period of time, to see whether it's a possible trigger.



Growing up in Denmark, it has been spoon-fed to me how toxic inorganic foods are, killing off our microbiota more rapidly than anything else and that the chemicals in Roundup and Glyphosate are water-soluble and can destroy our mitochondria, the bacteria that feeds us. Onions are very high on the list of the most pesticide-contaminated foods, so if you do have that onion-craving, this would be a good place to make an organic swap.


However, let's focus on all the foods & botanical ingredients that Ed and I use in our diet that have helped us create a calm, happy gut, and resurface healthy skin.

With the power of botanicals, including some of the dishes you might have experienced at Ed and I's home, or during our Investor Evening @ Taylor Morris, Notting Hill last week, here is our best take on an anti-inflammatory, fresh vegetarian diet.


I use many the principles of Ayurvedic medicine, the fresh Mediterranean diet and to some extent FODMAP, combined with a genuine passion for innovation in the kitchen. Every time I cook, I do it differently. I never follow a recipe but rather my gut feeling and intuition, plus the creative flow that precipitates when mixing colours, flavours and textures.


As promised, here are a few of the recipes from the Investor Evening - I’ve picked out the best ones.


A Spirulina Kefir Dip with Fenougreek & Safron


Ingredients:

  • 1 & 1/2 Yeo Valley’s super creamy organic kefir

  • Organic Spirulina powder - a tablespoon

  • Fresh lemon juice - a big squeeze

  • Black seed honey from portobello road market

  • Approx. 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seed powder

  • Turmeric powder - a big pinch

  • A little handful of herbs - usually dill/coriander/parsley

  • Dried Safron flower for flavour & decoration

  • Long slim fresh red Chili slices for garnish

  • A squirt of nice olive oil


Something like that - mix all and garnish with love and attention to colourful detail. I used the saffron and the long chilly slices, arranged in a Star (Seed).




A quinoa & buckwheat taboulé with dried apricot, black seeds & organic feta cheese


Ingredients:

  • Buckwheat

  • White quinoa

  • Turmeric powder

  • Whole cardamom pods

  • Black cumin seeds

  • Black seeds

  • Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

  • Fresh coriander / parsley

  • Liquorice root powder

  • Paprika powder

  • Chilly flakes

  • Fresh Chilly cut in long super slim slices

  • Lots of organic lemon juice

  • Lots of organic extra virgin olive oil

  • Dice a organic feta cheese

  • Dried apricots

  • Pumpkin seeds, coriander seeds & Pecan nuts toasted with sea salt & a squeeze of olive oil


Quantities are harder to tell here, it was a real creative flow process, but as a rule of thumb:

Add a tremendous amount of the herbs, seeds, spices, lemon juice. A lot more than you think.

Use a lot less feta cheese - for a huge bowl for 15 people I used 1 cheese.

If you are on a budget, I would focus on buying organic dairy products, lemons, herbs and grains. Or course, ideally we would all eat a completely organic diet, but that would be a good start.

3 to 1 quinoa versus buckwheat.

I cook the grains with cardamom pods, they rise to the top and when the grains are fully cooked you can remove them. I also add the turmeric and cumin seeds to the water.

Garnish with the thin fresh Chilly slices, a little portion of the toasted seeds and a handful of feta cheese, finely diced, as well as a sprinkle of the fresh chopped coriander.


Spicy Rosemary Liquorice Almonds


As in the name, almonds slow toasted over low heat with fresh rosemary, olive oil & sea salt, adding the paprika, chilly powder and liquorice root powder in the end. I dispersed some of the Rosemary stalks but left a few in the end whole for decorations.



All in all, many things related to diet, digestion and even skin flare ups are a mystery to most, but I really do believe, that the more we follow our gut feeling - our innate intuition, with what we eat, the better we will feel and the better we will look.


If our gut is constantly inflamed, it will be very hard to listen to the gut feeling, as it will be busy fighting an endless fight against intruders.


If you really want glowing, healthy, resilient skin, with a biodiverse microbiome, you need to look at the bigger picture perspective, make the right decisions and listen to the signals the body is sending. I am speaking from experience of not doing the above. Take them seriously. Much of what is in our Star Seed products, we also use in the kitchen - like Turmeric, Black Seed, Moringa & Spirulina. Think about your skin - it is your biggest organ. It eats whatever you put on it - wether that is a micro-plastic foundation, a chemical sunscreen, a hormone-disrupting lip balm or a microbiome killing face cream. Star Seed's products are good enough to eat - but we recommend them for your skin :)


Till next time - source some wild & organic seeds and let your gut feed you.


What is your favourite anti-inflammatory food? Please write to us so we can build our knowledge together.


Note: The fluffy seeded sourdough bread was from the gorgeous Layla’s Bakery around the corner.


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