Meet Soulla Chamberlain our March woman of the month! Soulla is the founder and director of Star Anise Organic Wholefoods, and Sydney’s first dedicated broth bar “Broth Bar & Larder” in the stunning Bronte, Sydney. She is a real and traditional foods cooking instructor, a health coach, a wellness blogger, a lover of the sun and surf and a mamma on a serious mission to bring nutrient-dense traditional wholefoods back to the modern table for vibrant health and longevity.
Where did your deep passion for traditional wholefoods and the age old saying food is medicine stem from?
As a young child I always had a keen interest in health and wellness and over the years I cultivated a deeper and deeper desire to understand what makes us tick and thrive. I instinctively knew that what we eat would surely have a huge impact on our health and after becoming disillusioned with the conventional food pyramid, the search began in my early 20s for the most appropriate human diet.
After delving into numerous dietary regimes from vegetarian, vegan, low fat, and the blood type diet and having several breakdowns and major health issues in the process (including the hospitalization of my vegetarian baby) I ended up being introduced (through my naturopath) to the works of Dr Weston A Price and the power of nutrient dense traditional wholefoods.
As a hard core vegetarian I resisted for another year but in that time I delved deep into the nutritional anthropological literature, nutritional science and using my own body as an experimentation device, I ultimately couldn’t refute the conclusion that (regardless of your ethical beliefs) we are biologically designed to be omnivores and eat a diet rich in nutrient-dense whole unprocessed foods in order to function at our best.
Why do you believe moving back to our ‘traditional’ ways is so important?
Anything that minimizes the mismatch between our genes (our biology) and diet and other lifestyle choices will reduce illness and disease and allow us to function better on every level and ultimately to fire on all 6 cylinders.
Chronic illness and degenerative disease didn’t exist pre agricultural revolution (people died in accidents, fights, childbirth or being run down by a sabre toothed tiger). Nutritional pioneers like Dr Weston Price discovered that people living in traditional societies eating and living the way their ancestors ate and lived for millennia had perfect robust health, beautiful physical form, incredible strength and stamina, supreme fitness, no chronic illness, no depression or anxiety, no digestive issues, no autoimmunity and all gave birth full term to alert, content, healthy babies that grew into well-adjusted, happy, healthy adults.
Our ancestors through trial and error over millennia did all the hard work for us to understand what were the best foods to eat, how to best prepare them to maximise nutrient density and minimise anti-nutrients, how to best move our bodies to catch animals for our survival, when to sleep and wake, how to breathe and how to socialise. There were no safety nets back then, the survival of the tribe depended on the vibrant health of every member of the tribe.
We can learn tremendous amounts by turning to the wisdom of our ancestors to better understand how to adapt our modern lifestyle choices to better suit our physiology for the ultimate purpose of furthering and bettering our health and happiness and that of the next generation. We don’t even need to turn as far back as our hunter gatherer ancestors- our ancestors of even a few generations ago exhibited less chronic illness and degenerative disease than we do today.
As our food becomes less nutritious, and as screens, sedentary lifestyles, chronic stress, sleep deprivation, pharmaceuticals, nature divorcement and dietary and environmental toxins become more ubiquitous with each generation, we pay the price.
The encouraging news however is that through diet and other lifestyle choices we can minimise this discrepancy and return to vibrant health. How empowering is that?!? And that’s exactly why I am here- to educate and inspire people on their journey to vibrant health and happiness.
With the theme of using diet to support vibrant health what are some of your tips for getting so called ‘taboo foods’ (like organ meats) into our diets, particularly for fussy eaters- we know you are super big on nose to tail eating (which we LOVE)
First and foremost, it’s educating people – starting with our children- about how nutrient dense and important these foods are for our mental and physical health. We’ve got to take it back to the why. Second it’s the how i.e. educating people on how to cook these foods to make them delicious and to take the ick factor out. I run regular workshops on organ meats, slow cooking meals, and I’m about to launch a brand new workshop called “dealing with fussy eaters” specifically aimed at getting nutrient dense foods into fussy eaters and the tactics and tools to employ. The earlier we start, the easier it is for children to embrace and love nose to tail eating and to eat a wide variety of food.
What is your number one tip for sisters out there wanting to transition back to this style of living and eating?
Educate yourself as much as possible on the dietary and environmental toxins around you and then make one change at a time, over a period of days, weeks, months, years and decades. I’m into my third decade of this journey and I’m still learning and making healthy swaps. Enjoy the journey and enjoy learning.
You mentioned earlier the fact we’re exposed to toxins on the daily, what are some of your favorite tips for supporting our bodies to detoxify?
Given the ubiquitous toxicity of our modern day environment, I think that it is now more important than ever to be vigilant about detoxifying on a regular basis. Some of my favourite ways include:
1. Bone broth from pastured animals. Glycine (the main amino acid in gelatin) assists the liver in detoxifying toxic substances. I recommend 1 cup per day. You can learn how to make your own bone broth in my online bone broth workshop or purchase from Broth Bar & Larder or selected stockists.
2. Green leafy veggies like cooked silver-beet, kale, chard, spinach and other plant matter as these are super cleansing and detoxifying.
3. Fermented foods and drinks like raw sauerkraut, beet kvass and kombucha are also detoxifying.
4. Drink plenty of filtered water with a pinch of unrefined salt (to re-mineralize it) in between meals.
5. Avoid all dietary and environmental toxins as much as possible to not overload our already taxed systems. The main offenders are refined sugar, industrial seed oils (e.g vegetable oil, cottonseed and canola oil), refined gluten, unfermented soy products (e.g. soy milk), electromagnetic radiation (e.g. wifi, blue tooth), and all conventional household and personal care products in favour of all natural or pure essential oil based products.
6. Seeking herbal support from a naturopath where necessary, especially if detoxification pathways are compromised. There are teas, herbs and other detoxifiers like charcoal that draw toxins out of our system.
7. Spend as much time in fresh air in nature.
8. Oil pulling. This is a powerful detoxifier by drawing toxins out of your body. Swish 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for 15-20 minutes and spit it out in bin (not sink!).
9. Sweat it out in an infrared sauna. Sweating detoxifies the body and research shows that infrared saunas get greater results than ordinary saunas.
10. Avoid stress. The body can manufacture toxins from stress alone, further adding to our toxin load.
What exciting things should we keep our eyes and ears open for when it comes to Star Anise Organic?
Lots of exciting things are afoot, including the release of more new online workshops perfect for those who can’t attend the ones I hold here in Sydney and I am also working toward releasing some amazing new products via Broth Bar so keep your eyes peeled for that!
What did you think of Soulla’s amazing insights? We know we learnt a lot and there is certainly a lot of merit in leading and eating with these things in mind… what was your biggest take away? Share in the comments below, we love hearing from you! S & M.x