Owner OVViO Organic Health & Lifestyle Store, Naturopath, Herbalist, Homeopath, Organic Health, Food & Lifestyle Educator
Over a lovely pot of signature OVViO Vanilla Lemon Heaven tea, we chat with Anthia Koullouros who in our eyes is nothing short of a health guru. She shares her passion of whole foods, why she does not recommend supplements and insights into food marketing. Plus discover 3 simple things that Anthia believes we can all do to make a difference.
Joanna Thank you again for allowing us to come and have a chat to you. I’ll start of by saying you’ve got many titles, amongst them Organic Health, Food and Lifestyle Educator so that I understand, that’s clear. You’re also a Naturopath, a Herbalist and a Homeopath. For people like me who have a little bit of an idea of what each of those is, can you just briefly describe what they are and what you do?
Anthia Sure, so Naturopathy is a system of medicine that addresses the underlying reasons of ill health. You go to a Naturopath like you would go to a GP for either symptomatic but also long consults where we look at all the lifestyle factors so, food, hydration, breathing, stress levels. So it’s much more in-depth. It’s a lot more of a holistic view of overall health. That’s what I’ve been doing predominantly for the last twenty years, consulting as a Naturopath. Herbal medicine and homeopathy are modalities that you use as a Naturopath as a transition from ill health to health.
So, herbal medicines could be in the form of teas or horrible tasting tinctures. We’re like witches and have a little cauldron and make up particular medicines to either tone or detox the system or body organ. So, it’s just where we meet clients further out and help them get to path of good health.
Joanna So what kind of issues do people come in and see you about?
Anthia All sorts of things from digestive issues to elevated cholesterol levels, infertility and I think that probably the greatest thing lately is because everyone knows that I’m this food advocate is education. Is to help them debunk myths.
Joanna On the topic of food, why do you think we should change our eating habits?
Anthia Because I think we’re following a system of food that isn’t helping us. We’ve still got diabetes, heart disease, cancer, infertility so we tick all those boxes and follow what is on offer but isn’t working. Because, there’s so much more chemicals within our food system. Because, it doesn’t actually support animals or our environment, our plants or us. Because, more people are taking supplements than they need to be, so I’m an advocate of not taking supplements so I’m probably not like many practitioners because I work my way around that just to recommend eating really good food, well sourced and well prepared.
Joanna I was interested to hear that you don’t recommend supplements.
Anthia It’s on the very rare occasion where we think somebody is so depleted, and it has to be of the best quality and they are usually some form of food base like fermented cod liver oil. Sometimes we need to give more Vitamin D but the idea is not to be on anything. So clients ask me what do I take? I don’t take a thing, I just eat really well.
Joanna So would be the most common piece of advice that you give your clients?
Anthia I think to be discerning. There’s so much confusion, there’s so much information out there. How do you know what’s real? And, I help them toss the soil and basically in a nutshell I say “If it’s good for you, it’s also going to be good for animals, good for plants, good for soil, good all round.” If it’s not good for everyone then it’s not good for us full stop. That’s how we get around the concept of reducing carbohydrate particularly carbohydrate grains and legumes and soy because we look at the industrialisation of those - it’s affect on the soil. Everything that’s ready to eat, ready to go is made from those products, then should we be eating so much of those? So, if you teach food and lifestyle through that holistic model you can work out how it benefits everything. So discernment is I think … need to think for themselves.
Joanna Well we came across the food pyramid the other day on Nutrition Australia website that has the carbohydrates and the fruit and veggies at the bottom and a little bit of protein but your margarines, and it did actually say margarine, and oils at the top. That, amused us I suppose!
Anthia It is amusing.
Joanna That must frustrate you?
Anthia It does, and not everyone gets to hear it all the time, so I go home and get on my little soapbox. But, I suppose that doesn’t really help clients and sometimes they do say “Anthia, aren’t you infuriated?” The answer is, “of course.”
But we need to destroy that line between what is food marketing and what’s reality, and food marketing and result is dollar bill. So, obviously one of the biggest things I get my clients to do is turn the product around and look at the ingredients. Not the nutritional panel, the ingredients. If you know what’s in it then eat it but most people don’t know what’s in it! If there are more than one or two or three ingredients then you know that it’s been processed in a way to bind it together with other emulsifiers or chemicals at high temperatures. You’re eating something that isn’t real food, it’s just a product.
Joanna Two things that I have seen a lot of growing popularity in is, the cultured vegetables and also teas. Can you just talk to us a little bit about the benefits of both of those?
Anthia Sure. Well, they have been used forever so they are not new, but I suppose everything has its cycle. Herbal teas, I consider them to be food but I also consider them as therapeutic agents for different reasons. Whether it’s to digest or to relax or to uplift or for sugar cravings I think it’s an easy modality if someone has been exposed to using natural therapies. They’re an easy way to hydrate well than an alternative to having lots of caffeinated drinks. Although I’m not opposed to having coffee, it’s just that we tend to have a lot of poor quality fluids and tea is just a lovely way of getting some good hydration and digestive properties or other health beneficial properties.
Cultured vegetables; I remember reading about cultured vegetables when I was twelve in one of my favourite books which I talk about all the time, which is “How to get Well” by Paavo Airola then I saw that we have cultured vegetables in my Cypriot culture and then I thought “other cultures do too”. When we go to Japanese we have pickled ginger and so then, when I was reading that in How to get Well, I thought “I can make these” So, I used to make concoctions as a twelve year old.
Now there’s this big circle of this cultured foods return because of “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon and all the work of Weston A. Price so instead of just re-inoculating with pro-biotics we are looking at other ways, or what did our ancestors do to re-inoculate with some good bacteria and create healthy digestive, healthy immune system. I’ve got a lovely easy recipe in my e-book with lovely photos but we recommend Browns Life in a Jar or Kitsa’s Kitchen. They’re just yummy and they aid digestion and help you emulsify fats, put in all the good bugs and they taste good.
Joanna Exactly, yeah I bought a jar last time I was here and it is certainly lovely. So in your books “I Am Food” you mention that we eat what we are and we are what we eat. There are two things from your book that I’d like to touch on. Firstly, can you talk to us about how important the source of your food, the aliveness of your food is, and secondly how some of the processing and preparation and its affects on nutrients?
Anthia Sure. With source it’s just where food comes from so it’s all about healthy plant, animal or soils and the farming methods involved which affect that. I think that’s vital because if we’re eating unhealthy plants and animals then we’ll become that. If we’re eating plants or animals that are raised on deficient soil then we are deficient ourselves, so I think that’s vital. But it’s also for their benefit as well, it’s not just about us. So that’s my greatest thing. I like to know where my meat comes from, I want to know if it is pastured so I’ve befriended farmers, visited farms, ring up people, ask my clients to ring up people and find out more.
Processing is what is done to those ingredients. So, it could be good processing which is good preparation if it’s cooking at home or could be at the factory end and then we quiz high temperatures or chemicals used to create this end product. Which is for long shelf life stability, uniformity, homogenisation, taste good whether it’s natural or not. They don’t care; they just want something ready to go really. That’s why whenever I teach about food it’s always source and processing; source and processing and I think if you can get those two right you pretty much can work the rest out.
Joanna If you could ask everyone to make, say three small changes, to how they shop so that collectively we all have a different impact, what would you recommend people do?
Anthia Always buy pastured meat including diary and eggs, non-farmed seafood and organic fruit and vegetables unless you know it’s chemical free, you know the farm. So, that’s those kinds of food groups.
Chemical-free beauty. So, it’s really just chemical free as close to nature as possible. I’m not opposed to buying nail polish or using nail products that at least have less chemicals. But I think that’s the underlying key is, just as nature intended, as close as nature intended. There’s no perfection. There can’t be, otherwise then I should be living on a farm and the countryside not connected to the city. But I like city luxuries as well. I just do the best in the city.
Joanna I think that’s it. I think that’s what we’re learning as well. Do what you can. We’re not experts by any means and we’re never going to claim that we are because there’s just so much out there. So, now it’s a case of what you don’t know, you don’t know. But, yes there are compromises along the way.
Anthia Absolutely and even our animals are compromised and we are not hunter gatherer’s we are farming but there is so much more that we can do and we’re so fortunate to have an abundance of food available to us.
So, you’re looking at some waste. I can’t bear waste. We should be making the most of bits and pieces, organs, bones. I saw at the farmers’ markets they were cutting off beet leaves and putting them in the bin rather than using them and steaming them. Olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper - I mean you’ve still got your beetroot and then you’ve got your beet leaves. It’s just … people, it’s so easy, easy come, easy go and you don’t realise unless you start farming, how hard it is to grow food.
Joanna Exactly, make the most of what you got.
Anthia Make the most of what you got and then you’re spending less and organics are not expensive then because you’re using the whole foods. But yes, if you’re doing organic processed food - very expensive.
Joanna Absolutely and I think that’s something that I’ve learnt, get back to the offal and the funny cuts of meat that people generally don’t go for. They are a lot cheaper and often more nutritionally dense as well.
Anthia We’re such in a nice time at the moment where chefs are using all those odd cuts so there is this real awareness of sustainability and soil to plate. I think what there is, and I think it’s happening now, hopefully because practitioners like myself, is that there is this health angle to it. It’s for farmers and it’s healthy for us but why is it healthy for us?
Joanna If you have absolutely no limitations in terms of time, money, season or anything else, what would be your ideal food day? So, what you would love to have for breakfast, lunch or dinner or just pick one?
Anthia I’d still have beautiful eggs that are pastured and I really love our brilliant harvest eggs that delivered to us because they’re that lovely golden yellow. I’d probably have them with some nice goat’s cheese and some roasted tomatoes and then for lunch it would be, gosh, there’s so much to choose from that it’s really hard.
Either, roasted pork belly or a nice old chicken soup. What I mean by an old chicken soup is a nice boiler hen that’s been cooked down and its so flavoursome like a really lovely old chicken soup with lots of vegetables and something similar for dinner. Maybe, some good quality oysters that are farmed well.
Maybe some nice fresh cream and berries and some really good quality chocolate or one of our home-made chocolate cakes which are grain free, which we can whip up, which is as light as can be.
Joanna Right, I’m there! Thank you Anthia that was brilliant.