Lee Holmes is one very special health foodie. I have been following her inspiring journey over the years and am now in a position to congratulate her on the recent launch of your 6th book! I have put together some questions based on the philosophies shared across these amazing titles spanning the topics of Ayurveda, gut health, kids nutrition, clean & green vegetarian cuisine as well as eating for health and beauty. I am sure this is going to be a very memorable read! 

What is supercharged food?

Supercharged Food is the name of my website that you’ll find me blogging over at www.superchargedfood.com. It’s a website which encourages S.O.L.E food: sustainable, organic, local and ethical. It features delicious recipes, information, news, reviews and menu planning ideas to make it easy for people to enjoy a satisfying, wholesome and nourishing diet. I often talk about what a supercharged food is and to me it’s a food which is natural, real and full of vitamins, minerals and ingredients which are super powdered. It’s not a superfood which you need to trek miles to the Congo to find. It’s your everyday foods like zucchini, cauliflower and leafy greens!

In a nutshell… what is Ayurveda?

Originating in India, Ayurveda presents a holistic approach to feeling well and living in harmony with yourself and your surroundings. It is a union of the mind, body, senses and soul.

Through nutrition, yoga and meditation, it focuses on treating the individual as a whole rather than a specific issue or disease, so that you can achieve balance and good health, not only in your physical body, but also in your mind and spirit.

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I love the Ayurveda philosophies and how a holistic approach to feeling well and living in harmony with yourself and your surroundings is taught. What role does nutrition play in holistic health and wellness?

In my recipe book Eat Right for Your Shape I look at nutrition from an Ayurvedic point of view and a way of understanding and influencing the interplay of your bodily systems to keep your true self feeling balanced, healthy and calm. I feature an extensive selection of delicious and nourishing seasonal recipes with ingredients that correct your doshic imbalance, in order to create harmony, weight management and health.

One of the principles of Ayurveda is that any substance with which your body comes into contact will either aggravate or pacify your dosha. Doshas are energies that circulate around your body and govern physiological activity; they also determine your individual temperament and specific physical characteristics.

There are three doshas – vata, pitta and kapha – and they’re made up of the five elements – air, water, fire, earth and ether – that constitute our nature. When doshas are out of whack, they can cause physical and mental disorders – so, simply put, finding your dominant dosha and keeping it in balance is the key to maintaining your overall health.

Food is vital and central to Ayurvedic medicine. Our taste buds not only identify and discriminate between the flavour hits we encounter when we eat; they also unlock the nutritive value of foods and kick-start the entire digestive process. The advantages of eating right for your dosha means that you can balance whatever is out of whack and in the process create a robust digestive system, the cornerstone to good health and energy abundance.

Meals are also based upon the six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent and a big home truth about Ayurveda is its emphasis on freshly prepared earth-based foods. I really enjoyed delving into the richness
and healing qualities of many of the ingredients that are used in Ayurvedic cooking such as ghee and turmeric, and a myriad of spices like cardamom, fenugreek and Asafoetida.

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Your latest book has an emphasis on balance and self care. What are your top tips for self care for busy stressed out people?

The first one is to give your digestive system a spring clean…
The health of your body is largely dependent on your intestinal tract and its micro-flora. Through my own healing I have found that a well-functioning digestive system is so important and by removing bad bacteria, replacing it with good bacteria such as probiotics and fermented foods and enhancing your liver’s and kidneys’ capacity to remove waste from your body you will feel so much better. The way I give my digestive system a good spring clean is by drinking smoothies, eating soups and including more easy to digest foods, because it’s a really fast and easy way to fortify my body with nutrients whilst giving my digestive system a break. Also drinking enough water will help cleanse your body and that’s a quick and simple thing to do.

Secondly if you are in Australia, summer is coming so I recommend switching over to warm weather diet
I like to make the most of nature’s summer fruits and vegetables and enjoy seasonal wholefoods. I ‘ve found some great buys at local growers markets by buying in season and in bulk. My favourite ingredients are spring greens and vegetables because they are fantastic in mixed salads; just add a splash of extra virgin olive oil and lemon, fresh tomatoes, avocado and a sprinkle of nuts and seeds which contain natural essential fatty acids for a glowing complexion. Another one of my tips is to add spices such as coriander, cumin, turmeric to your food to stimulate digestion and detoxify the skin. I have loads of healthy recipes on my blog www.superchargedfood.com

People should be so inspired by your own recovery from autoimmune disease and how you healed your own gut. Why is gut health so important to our overall health?

There is a growing amount of awareness and clinical studies being released about how connected our gut is to so many other parts of our health and life, and in particular the link between the brain and the gut. When you think about the fact that 70-80% of serotonin that you produce is actually manufactured in your gut, and via the vagus nerve, and interestingly, that your gut sends more messages to your brain than your brain sends to your gut, then you will see how these connections can make a difference to your overall health and the way that you think and feel.

What are some of the symptoms of poor gut health?

Symptoms can be varied and can be brought on by a number of reasons, anything from antibiotics, bad diet, smoking, environment or stress. You could have digestive complaints such as bloating, constipation, stomach pain or even low energy, skin trouble and aches and pains.

It’s really about getting that bacteria right in your gut, and making sure the balance between all the different types of bacteria are there. So when you eat a lot of processed foods and live a high-stress lifestyle, that starts to destroy the good bacteria in your gut and creates the bad, which then makes you start feeling more tired, you lose energy, and you can be prone to putting on weight.

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What are your top 5 tips for improving your gut health?

The good news is the gut does renew itself. The cells renew themselves. So when I got sick with an auto-immune disease and fibromyalgia, one of the first places I looked was my gut. I altered my diet to one that was gut friendly and then I could start to actually absorb the nutrients from my food again. I found I had so much more energy! I was feeling better, and I could slowly start to eat better and reintroduce ‘normal’ foods again.

I run a four-week online Heal Your Gut program on my website along with a 2-day a-week Heal Your Gut Maintenance program too. The tips or phases that we follow begin with giving your digestive system a rest from hard to digest foods and ones that cause you problems or irritations. Step two is cleanse your body and you can do this through a good diet and also using natural ways to do so like Epsoms salts baths and oil pulling and dry body brushing. My next tip is to then put the good bacteria back in again after you’ve cleansed the gut, through eating probiotic rich foods and/or taking a probiotic. And then step four is about detoxing your life. When I first started doing this, I had a very stressful job, and I was a single mum, so a lot of stresses in my life. But when I changed my lifestyle and brought in ways to reduce that stress, I’ve found a really good balance – and the gut needs that.

Eating a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables is vitally important for optimal health. What are some simple ways to increase your daily intake of fruits and vegetables?

One of the ways I like to do it is to get inspired by recipes, other authors and new ingredients. There’s nothing like a great new recipe to get you feeling inspired to cook or create a healthy meal. Smoothies are good for adding more veggies or fruit to. Also in my Eat Clean Green and Vegetarian recipe book I have so veggies in most of my desserts. I even have a Cauliflower Cheesecake recipe. But don’t worry it tastes amazing!

Beauty really does come from the inside out. It is impossible to maintain your optimal weight and have healthy skin and hair if you are not in tiptop condition on the inside. What tips do you have for the V&M community on the topic of eating for beauty?

Beauty really does come from the inside out. It is impossible to maintain your optimal weight and have healthy skin and hair if you are not in tiptop condition on the inside.

You don’t have to strictly follow a beauty regime, but it is incredible to notice how just a few small changes to your diet and daily routine can make a huge difference to how you feel. With the right regime, you can nourish your body from the inside out and you’ll truly notice your skin starting to develop a glow, your digestion will improve and you’ll experience more energy than ever before. I love to eat lot