Beyond Fit | An inspiring read

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Jail the Juicers

Nutritionist & Juicer Hanna Sillitoe responds to Christie Watson’s article in The Guardian

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What is it with the British? We love building something up and tearing it down! Juicing was the must-try detox diet at the start of January, now it seems we’re all done with liquid fruit and veg. Juicing is getting a bit of a battering in the press, but I absolutely love it. It was a life changer for me. My pics tell the story better than I ever could. Those little green juices are the very reason I lost 5 stone and cleared my eczema and psoriasis. Far from being a fad, or a so-called quick fix, I genuinely believe juicing can make a huge long term difference to people’s health. These negative articles concern me. As a society we’re inherently lazy, we’re binging on take aways and reliant on convenience foods. The last thing we need is further suggestions that consuming fresh fruit and veg pose a danger to health. Headlines inferring it’s ‘terrible for your insides’ simply encourage people to think ‘sod it, I’ll just stay as I am.’ Continue reading

To Juice, Blend or Bullet?

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I’m being asked a lot lately whether I’d recommend a juicer, blender or nutri machine. It’s a little like being asked if I favour the treadmill, bike or rower at the gym. They work very differently, there are distinct benefits to each machine and in truth they’re best used in conjunction with one another. That being said, due to time, space and budget constraints – a kitchen full of fancy, liquidising appliances is not always an option. So I’ll explain as simply as possible what I believe to be the benefits and disadvantages of each. Continue reading

Alice in Wonderland? My juicer’s for life, not just for Christmas

Juicer Hanna Sillitoe replies to Alice Smellie’s Daily Mail article

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Friday morning. My Twitter, Facebook and email begin to ping with notifications. People asking if I’d read Alice Smellie’s juicing article in the Daily Mail. Many messages include a link to the piece, plenty dismiss it, but some are asking if, in light of her report, I still think juicing’s safe. Alice, your words are very powerful and this worries me.

Ironically, on the same day as the paper published your “Is juicing making you fat?” article, they also sent an email to their  subscribers advertising the four day juicing guide featured in this weekend’s Mail on Sunday. You couldn’t make it up! That’s a super fast contradiction even by Daily Mail standards.

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There’s no denying juicing and blending are becoming increasingly popular. As you correctly state at the start of the article; John Lewis sold the Nutribullet at a rate of one every thirty seconds in the run up to Christmas. Worryingly that’s really the most accurate statement I could find within the editorial.

Juicing, you claim, is a ‘fad’? It may be more popular than ever right now, but a ‘fad’ implies it’s a short-lived trend. In 1968, Ann Wigmore co-founded the Hippocrates Health Institute. Ann was an early pioneer in the use of wheatgrass juice for detoxifying the body. If juicing is a fad, it’s an impressive 47 year one! Have you considered that perhaps its popularity is spreading because of, not in spite of, its effectiveness? Make no mistake, my juicer is for life, not just for Christmas.

I understand your headline; “Is juicing making you fat, rotting your teeth and starving your body of nutrients?” is designed to read controversially. My worry is that too many people will read the top line without fully understanding the flaws in the story. Headlines such as this can genuinely deter people from making a life changing difference to their health. We’ve become such a lazy society, reliant on convenience foods, the last thing we need is another article which encourages people to think ‘sod it, I’ll just stay as I am.’ Far from causing obesity, rotting teeth and depleting the body of nutrients, juicing for me, and for thousands of others, is doing just the opposite! It kick-started my weight-loss, I’m 65lbs down, my teeth are whiter than they’ve ever been and my dentist was astounded when my bleeding gums simply stopped bleeding. In October last year, eight months after my love affair with juicing began, I embarked on a 28 day, juice only detox. How did I feel? Fat, tired and nutrition depleted as you suggest? Far from it. I completed a triathlon and trained throughout. But the most dramatic, life changing benefit of this apparently ‘nutrient starving’ process, is without doubt, the complete remission of my chronic, lifelong, autoimmune disease.

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I get that you’re enjoying a dig at Jason Vale when you write; “the self-styled ‘Juice Master’, even credits the craze with ridding him of psoriasis.” You say it as if this wacky concept of using food (or rather, juice) as medicine is so utterly ridiculous it could not possibly be responsible for Jason’s clear skin. I can relate to his clearance because last year I followed the same principle with the same results. And I’m not alone. I only need to flip through the pictures and messages from juicers who tweet and email me, excited at seeing a complete change in their skin and health as a result of being inspired to extract the liquid nutrients from fresh fruit and veg. Juicing for them has offered something pharmaceutical medicine has to date proved incapable of doing. There is no medical cure for psoriasis.

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You see Alice, us juicing advocates claim it’s an easy way of getting huge amounts of micronutrients into our bodies, because it is! We’ve nothing to promote, no medication to sell – we’re simply advocating the consumption of fresh fruit and veg. The reality is this – juicing green vegetables is the perfect way for those of us adverse to eating gigantic platefuls of broccoli and spinach, to ingest a huge quantity of super green nutrients! Removal of the insoluble fibre, ensures those nutrients are going to hit the body’s cells straight away, without asking anything of our major organs in terms of digestion. When you understand the concept of juicing, the principle of consuming an enormous quantity of liquid, green vegetables to heal the body makes absolute sense. For a nation addicted to sugar and processed junk, a plate of steamed broccoli just doesn’t cut it, but ask someone to down a freshly pressed juice and suddenly they’re able to absorb more nutrients from green veg than they ever thought possible!

Sugar IS an addiction, but fruit sugar, even in raw juice, is not the problem – processed foods and processed sugars are. I’m talking about dextrose, maltodextrin, high-fructose corn syrup, caramel and the numerous other titles which cleverly disguise what is essentially pure, added sugar, hidden in so many of the convenience foods we consume. Surely replacing that sugar-laden breakfast cereal with a super green juice containing broccoli, spinach, apple, cucumber and ginger can only be a good thing? You’re not telling me that liquid kale is going to add to the obesity epidemic?! That’s almost as insane as your likening freshly pressed apple juice to coca cola!

Caramel E150d is the stuff used to turn coca cola brown, it’s produced with ammonia. Phosphoric acid is added to cola to provide a sharper, tangy taste. It’s a corrosive acid, used in fertilisers, soaps, polishes, dyes and in many other nonfood products. You can hardly draw a fair comparison between the juice of an apple and this chemical-laden sugar water? Coca cola contains refined sugar. The problem with refined sugar and the reason it contributes to obesity and chronic disease, is its super fast rate of metabolism. Fruit and freshly pressed juice are not the enemy. Rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals, they help prevent the inflammation that causes insulin resistance.

If you drink a juice containing pressed apple or pear, you are consuming natural sugar. Sugar in this form has not been isolated from the companion nutrients contained within the fruit. It has a positive effect on your chemistry. Although it’s true to say there is a glycemic index associated with fruit, the companion nutrients stabilise the sugars so insulin levels are balanced in the bloodstream. Raw fruit and vegetable juice are incredibly beneficial because their nutrients enter the bloodstream so quickly. It’s an instant, alkalising, energy hit.

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Alice, is it possible you’ve hastily written this article without ever having used a juicer?  You say; “Anyone who’s ever had a conventional juicer will know just how tricky those cutting blades can be to clean.” Cutting blades? I’ve tried and tested lots of juicers. Blades were never involved in the juice extraction process.

As for nutritionist Jackie Lynch’s suggestion that the problem with juicing lies in the missing fibre from the pith, peel, core and pips which are left behind. Firstly, the entire apple goes through my wide chute juicer, so any nutrients in the peel and core are extracted in just the same way as the juice from the rest of the apple . And seriously, how many times have you actually eaten an apple core and / or the pips?! I haven’t done that since my mother told me a tree would grow inside my stomach!

Inflammation in the gut is not caused by a lack of fibre. It’s aggravated by junk, by processed foods, by alcohol and by sugar. If we’re discussing specifics such as arthritis, it’s most commonly gluten, dairy and a group of vegetables called ‘nightshades’ which cause this particular autoimmune illness to flare. Apples contain pectin. Preserve makers will know pectin as the stuff that makes jam set. Pectin forms a similar ‘jelly’ in the body, it lines the gut, it coats the wall, it stops the toxins leaking, it calms and prevents inflammation. The lack of fibre isn’t causing the inflammation problem, junk food is doing that! In your article, you cite fibre as playing a major part in “preventing conditions like inflammatory bowel disease.” Wrong. High-fibre foods in fact aggravate Crohn’s disease, they cause bloating, gas, and abdominal pain. On the contrary, juicing has proven highly beneficial in helping Crohn’s sufferers.

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As for the notion that bugs in fruit pose additional dangers. In true Daily Mail scare mongering style you highlight the FDA’s caution, that; “all raw food can harbour pathogens that cause vomiting, diarrhoea and — in worst-case scenarios — conditions like hepatitis and even kidney failure.” Purlease! Are you really saying all raw fruit and veg is dangerous? Why not go the whole hog and blame apples for the ebola virus?

I’d implore you to buy a juicer or spend some time at a juice retreat. After a week’s juicing I would love you to write another article on how fat, sick and starved of nutrients you actually feel. I know it’s the Daily Mail, I get that your article has been written for a response and reaction, and I accept I’m playing right into your hands by replying, it’s like pushing the playground bully back, but I can’t help myself. I’m concerned that your misinformation is going to deny people the opportunity to regain their health. The number of emails and messages I received from people asking if any of the points you made were true worries me. The article is SO factually incorrect. It’s controversial, poorly researched journalism at it’s worst. I know I should be the bigger person and walk away, but rightly or wrongly, I can’t resist defending my little green life changer.

Self Righteous Chicken Racists

** WARNING – CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT **

Russell Brand is doing an awesome job at making headlines for himself this month. Arguing with Farage on Question Time last week, exchanging letters with some poor fella at RBS who’s paella went cold due to Russell popping into branch for a chat with his boss the other day. And today, a video doing the rounds on FaceBook, which sees Brand ranting at the front page of The Sun. The headline he’s taken issue with; “Halal Secret of Pizza Express”. Continue reading

Redefining coincidence

‘a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection’

‘intentional occurrence or meeting of souls predestined by the universe’

How many times have you found yourself in a parallel moment. A juncture in talking with someone, seeing something, over hearing something, that makes you think ‘oh isn’t the world a small place’.

It’s happened a few times to me, and the people around me, recently. The guy I got talking to at park run last month, who, it turns out, I worked with over twenty years ago. The Aussie friend my sister got chatting to in Brisbane who it transpires dated her boyfriends brother when she lived back in the UK. The business associate who it transpires also has a property in the tiny Cypriot village I love to think of as home.

I am definitely one for signs. I look for them everywhere to guide me. I’m not just talking about guidance on small decisions such as what to have for lunch or what my weekend social plans involve. I’m talking huge, life changing appraisals, such as relationships, career moves and property investment. I bought my last house based upon a little white feather. True story.

“The world’s a small place”

It isn’t really. With a radius of 6,371 km and a population of 7.1 billion, the earth is far from tiny.

We would therefore be forgiven for feeling a little bewildered when those connections occur. Some how rationale gets overlooked and we rarely consider that moment of fate any more deeply. Imagine if you were to add up the odds involved in every element of that ‘small world’ connection. It would be on a par with winning the lottery.

If these moments don’t happen to us purely by chance. Why do they happen? Is there a deeper meaning, a lesson, a purpose? Are we so keen to hastily dismiss them as a mere concurrence of events with no apparent connection, that we neglect to attribute any real value to them. Maybe we’re not seeing their real reason, their intended purpose.

It got me wondering whether the answer lies in figuring out the puzzle, the basis and justification for these moments in life. Do we shy away from thinking any more deeply about the moment because things get complicated? Or conversely, am I trying to simplify my search for answers by looking for guiding signs.

Trying to complete the puzzle brings its own dangers. What if, in searching so hard for the ‘correct’ interpretation, we don’t get the answer we’re looking for? There is a certain peril in consciously obsessing over the lesson, doing so can allow ego to take over, leading us down entirely the wrong path. It could also be suggested that not all moments of coincidence serve as a sign post for action. It could be that these occurrences are simply about gratitude with no further purpose.

Does the solution lie in acknowledging the moment as more than simply a concurrence of events with no apparent connection, balanced by avoiding the temptation to consciously search for a conclusion?

Manifest the feeling, let go of how, trust your gut instinct and let that guide you instead. Conceivably the answer, if there is one, will come naturally.

Does being positive create a positive being?

Back in summer I took a flight to Croatia to meet a human being I didn’t know. Our connection up until that moment had been solely virtual. We shared a passion for sport, health, juicing and life. I was not aware at the time just how much I would learn from Jeff nor how important our meeting would be. I just knew instinctively we had to meet.

I am very fortunate to have some incredible friends who unconditionally support my crazy mind! How many people would say ‘You’re insane’ – ‘It’s dangerous’ – ‘Don’t go’. Instead I’m surrounded by friends who said ‘You have to go’ – ‘I love it’ – ‘Do it’. I booked a flight and two days later I was driving across Croatia to jump on a ferry to the island of Hvar.

Jeff is a unique person. I mean, we’re all unique so that statement seems a little ridiculous. But he’s truly unique in his outlook and ambition. For the first time in my life I was in the company of someone who carried that incredible level of subconscious, positive energy that other people genuinely vibe off.

We can all smile and be polite and strike up conversations with strangers, but Jeff is different. We sat at a little vegan cafe eating spinach muffins. The short interaction between Jeff and the waiter will stay with me forever. It was like they could read each other on another level. Unprompted the waiter said to Jeff ‘you’re a positive soul, I can feel your energy’, Jeff returned the compliment. In that moment I too wanted to be a positive soul, I wanted someone to read my energy! I wondered what I had done that was any different. I’d smiled, I’d been polite, I’d chatted away, yet Jeff carried something deeper.

To be a ‘positive person’ there are superficial traits we can all share. The smile, the confidence in communication, the gratitude, the lack of fear. But with Jeff there was something else.

I was sat chatting with my friend Stef over the weekend. A lady walked into her shop and requested a gift card. We struck up a conversation, she’d just come back from a cruise and felt out of sorts. I could relate. I too had just returned from time abroad and was struggling to click back into life. Halfway through the discussion the lady suddenly stopped and said ‘Your happiness, positivity and radiance just shines’. Without realising it, in a moment where I’d felt quite unsettled and a little despondent myself, she had seen something deeper.

I’ve told Jeff he changed my life this year. That lady changed my life too. These small, seemingly insignificant interactions with other human beings are all part of the story.

We live in denial of our inherent negativity. Perhaps it’s working continually on the conscious that eventually has an effect on the subconscious. So that one day we can radiate positivity simply by being.