Gut Health and How to Make Kombucha with Rachel Molenda
Graydon: I'm here with Rachel and I love what you do. Not only are you a holistic nutritionist, but you specialize in emotional disorder eating, which is a topic near and dear to my heart.
Rachel: Thanks for having me!
Graydon: So tell us all about you!
Rachel: I'm a emotional disorder eating coach. I did used to have an eating disorder growing up. It started when I was thirteen. Thankfully it was short lived physically, but the mental effects stuck around for a really long time. I was eating aspartame everything and always hungry because I wasn't putting anything nutritious into my body. And that went on until university until I coached myself out of it. But that made me think maybe this is something I can do for a living - coaching people on how to eat - but then I thought there's no money in it, and went to work in advertising. But I always knew this was my passion and it's led me to where I am now!
Graydon: This was your path!
Rachel: I always had a focus on health. I got a degree in holistic nutrition and I discovered people have a very emotional attachment to food. Clients will tell me I've had a super stressful week and ate a bunch of things, and I'll say that's okay because that was my life for so long. And yes nutrition is important, but we need to heal the relationship people have with food first. So that's the work I'm primarily doing through one-on-one consultations, workshops, and a podcast...stay tuned!
Graydon: That's exciting. So how do people find you and get in touch?
Rachel: Most of the time people reach out to me via Instagram and only now can I say that people are finding me organically. I started posting my stories and my beliefs and values on IG, and people started responding with their own stories. It's called selling yourself through storytelling and forming a connection. The people that I want to work with is dependent on who they are as a person. So I really try to share my story and help people establish a healthy relationship with food, and not feel like they are at war with their bodies. And put real ass food into their body and find joy in it again.
Graydon: Wow I wish I found you earlier!
Rachel: [laughs] I wish I found myself a few years earlier! People come to me for digestive issues which is something I feel very passionate about. Your gut is really the control center of your health. What's happening on the outside is often a reflection of what's happening on the inside. So if you see blemishes and acne and rashes, its probably an imbalance in your diet. Get good fermented foods in there like kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut. Choose products that aren't clogging your skin and don't put junk into your body. I don't push the holistic lifestyle on anybody I like to show people how making different choices can cause such a positive change
Graydon: Just a few easy steps.
Rachel: Right! We were talking about skincare products earlier, and in holistic nutrition school, that's when I started to use all natural beauty products. But then thought that maybe I shouldn't be spending so much since money was tighter at the time. It wasn't until a year ago that it really hit me that I needed to be more mindful, since the majority of what you put into your skin is being absorbed into your blood stream. Yes, it can be a bit more for certain [skincare] products, but there are so many products on the market these days that it's just a matter of prioritizing it.
Graydon: I really agree with you. Of course I want people to buy products but a lot of times I also do a lot of DIY face mask recipes.
Rachel: I bet you make some amazing face masks in your kitchen!
Graydon: Sometimes it's hard to draw the line between a face mask, smoothie and a pudding.
Rachel: Do you do a taste test sometimes?
Graydon: Yeah, I think my whole team gets fairly good snacks. But you don't have to spend a lot if you don't want to. The only ingredient I would avoid is not rub any baking soda onto your skin.
Rachel: I thought you were going to say coffee grinds. I was just saying how I used to make coffee grind body scrubs with olive oil and honey, tried it and it killed [laughs]. I think the kind I used was too coarse. So why the baking soda?
Graydon: Right, you don't want anything too rough on the skin, and baking soda is too alkaline and your skin's natural pH is a little acidic so you want to keep your skin as balanced as possible.
Rachel: Your skin looks amazing. I need to do more of what you're doing.
Graydon: Why thank you!
Rachel: We were talking about something interesting earlier, we both have a past about dealing with an eating disorder. I was at the doctor earlier and she asked me about my health history and I shared that I had an eating disorder growing up. That was the first time it occurred to me that what happened in the past will have an effect on my health today. Then we were talking about how we are constantly living at a deficit and not getting proper nourishment and that shows through your skin.
Graydon: As a teen you can kind of fake it, unless you have acne, but anorexia can be a silent killer. Certainly from a fertility perspective and it's affect on your bones. Also your bone, nails and hair are so connected. When you do have children, you start to lose your hair. It's taken me years to deal with bone loss. When I had my child he also had bone issues. I think there's something going on in utero. Because when you produce a baby everything was going into making this baby. All the minerals in my bones that were already compromised went into my son Julian. He has a great diet but I think I may have passed on my health issues to him.
Rachel: What was interesting for me in terms of how I look and my skin, moving from aspartame everything to whole foods was that I looked a lot less puffy. I would look at older pictures of myself and I remember thinking I was so chubby, but looking back I think I was just really inflamed. Eating whole foods plays a huge role in improving the texture of your skin.
Graydon: Real food is a passion of mine and also self-care which is now really about real food. I tend to work a lot and work late so I developed a morning ritual where I take time to cook. I need some quiet time to drink tea and make sure that I'm set up to be fully nourished throughout the day, or I run out of gas. There's also the connection between eating disorders and anxiety and depression, so I also do it for my mental health.
Rachel: Totally. I definitely have noticed a big difference by prioritizing self care. I was talking to my sister about this the other day. I'm a morning person. I usually wake up around 5:30 or 6 and have a life before work. What was interesting on the anxiety note was that a few weeks ago I was experiencing chest pains because there was a lot going on and it was just a sign for me to slow down. Which is hard when you have that entrepreneurial spirit. I had to say no to a lot of things. Like crossfit. I noticed doing weights first thing in the morning was too much stress, so I had to say no to that and picked up yoga instead. I have a friend in the neighbourhood with a dog so I started taking him out for walks. It was so funny I did this for three days and Joy said to me that I looked more relaxed.
Graydon: Your skin doesn't lie. I'm certainly not a nutritionist but I have a friend right now in their fifties experiencing rosacea, which is really unpleasant, so I'm helping him by eliminating foods that can cause inflammation. And now he'll say 'wow I don't feel bloated anymore'. Also introducing him to kombucha, but I tell him not to drink too much.
Rachel: Yes drinking too many probiotics at once can make you gassy.
Graydon: He's like 'this is so delicious I have to learn how to make this stuff'. But I heard that you are a probiotic pro yourself.
Rachel: Yes I do teach kombucha workshops. That happened in a funny way. I've brewed on my own for years, doing it on my kitchen and jokingly said over Instagram stories if anyone wanted me to show them how brew kombucha and a lot of people were interested so I started doing them. I started doing workshops at a brewery every month so I started doing it in corporate settings. It's trendy right now but also there's a lot more research coming out about the benefits of probiotics. Kombucha is a delicious and easy way to take care of your gut health. If any of you are not in the Toronto area and want to learn how to make kombucha you can find the DIY kombucha video tutorials on Joyous Health.
Graydon: I might have to go and check it out myself.
Rachel: It's so fun. I do a holiday blend which is chai-like. It's so yummy.
Graydon: And kombucha cocktails! I have a couple more questions; do you have any more favourite skin supporting foods? For people who just want to make some better choices.
Rachel: First off incorporating healthy fats makes a big difference. Nuts, avocados, even using high quality oils. There's a difference between what you use for high heat and cold dishes. So for high heat cooking you want to use coconut, avocado or grapeseed oil. And then for salads, use flax, hemp, olive oil, pumpkin seed oil...
Graydon: Love pumpkin seed oil!
Rachel: The best. So when we're thinking about healthy fats we have to think of them as nourishing us from the inside out. Protein is huge and responsible for building up our hair, skin and nails. I'm not a huge collagen user yet, but I rely a lot on whole foods. We naturally produce collagen but after 25 our collagen production declines, which is why I think its such a trendy supplement right now.
Graydon: I've been experiencing with celery juice lately.
Rachel: How much stalks of celery do you need for one cup?
Graydon: I'm not too sure but I usually buy 3 or 4 bushels. It's not expensive to buy, you can buy organic at No Frills. It's naturally salty and helps to flush out toxins in your liver so it works great to detox and resets your hydrochloric acid. Because if you're not digesting properly, you're not absorbing.
Rachel: So hydrochloric acid is another name for stomach acid which is very important. If you are feeling constantly bloated, you might want to look into increasing your hydrochloric acid by drinking more celery juice. Have you noticed that it makes a difference in your energy levels? Do you drink it on an empty stomach?
Graydon: I like to have celery juice in the mornings. I'm not a fan of lemon water, it feels too acidic for me but I like having a glass of celery juice, chew and swish the juice around my mouth.
Rachel: That's great that you intuitively do that because the act of chewing activates your salivary enzymes. Digestion begins in the mouth, not the gut. So even though it's hard to chew a liquid, that can aid in digestion.
Graydon: I think I might have some downstairs that I can give you.
Rachel: Yes, let's do a shot of celery juice after this!
Graydon: Oh and I forgot to mention, we are going to have a green beauty pop up called MNDFL Beauty on December 6th at the Jam Factory which is near Queen and the DVP. There's going to be over 35 green beauty vendors there showcasing their wares and we would love for you to come.
Rachel: Yes I would love to. Sounds like a great event.