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Drinking your greens

Pukka Planet regular Susie Pole interviews the inspirational Nadia Brydon for her Womankind series.

Whenever I see Nadia I am struck by her vitality and air of radiant good health. She is a warm and very wise woman with years of serious study backing up her passion and never ending enthusiasm for the quest for optimal health. I am so glad she is sharing some of her wisdom with us here in Womankind.

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Nadia has been qualified and teaching in many fields of complementary Medicine for over 20 years focusing in particular on nutrition, Chinese and Western herbal medicine, naturopathy and detoxification. Nadia runs a private practice in Fulham Broadway in London and has been a Senior Therapist for the Breast Cancer Haven for the last 15 years where she also runs regular classes on green juicing, smoothies, fresh nutmilks and sprouting. In addition she teaches at the College of Naturopathic Medicine on their Natural Chef course and is also a consultant for The Really Healthy Company and Sun Chlorella.

Welcome Nadia, we are so pleased you have agreed to be interviewed for Pukka Planet. I know nutrition is your passion. There is so much detailed information and advice available nowadays on how we should eat and it can be confusing. Where do you begin when advising clients on their diet?

I have an unusual approach for a nutritionist in that when I see clients I don’t tell them to remove certain foods but instead I add in what they are lacking in their diet. I recommend they simply supplement their diet with a daily green vegetable smoothie which they drink before breakfast and then also later in the morning.

Most people think of smoothies as being made of fruit but I‘m talking about green vegetable smoothies and I am passionate about their health benefits. So I give my clients a green smoothie recipe to suit their constitution and get them to drink it each day; they are usually amazed at the difference they feel even after a few weeks.

Vegetables are much richer in vitamins and minerals than fruit, and green vegetables especially contain most of the micronutrients that our bodies need.
Most diseases are caused by a lack of good nutrition creating acidity and inflammation in our bodies and drinking a daily green smoothie is a very simple way to get all of the vitamins and minerals we need to help provide good health.

In Ayurvedic medicine we see each different part of a plant as corresponding to and so helping treat different parts of the body. For example the seeds of a plant may treat fertility, or the fibre may treat the ‘fibre’ of the body such as the tendons, bones and ligaments helping our physical strength and flexibility.

Chlorophyll, which gives a plant its green colouring, has an almost identical molecular structure to haem the red pigment in blood except chlorophyll contains magnesium whereas haem contains iron. Chlorophyll is packed with powerful nutrients and rich in antioxidants and minerals such as iron to build our blood and magnesium and calcium to help us deal with stress. Once you start getting enough of these minerals into your diet, your body gets stronger and your mind calms down. I call magnesium the ‘heart mineral’ as it is so important to help us relax and reconnect with our heart.

Is it important to eat the vegetables this way? Could we eat them in a salad instead or eat them cooked?

Cooking can kill off a lot of these micronutrients so it is important to eat the plants raw. The cell walls of the micronutrient need to be broken down to release the nutrients at the core and this is why we blend them rather than just eat them as the blending really breaks the plant down in a way that chewing doesn’t.

When my clients started adding in green smoothies to their diets I was so struck by the incredible results I saw in my clinic that I did a clinical trial with the University of Westminster with patients with type II diabetes. All we did was ask them to drink a green smoothie in the morning; they were not asked to make any other dietary changes.
I measured some of their key signs of health including blood sugar, energy, sleep and mood and after just 3 weeks there was already a 52% improvement in their symptoms.

It is very important to have the smoothie first thing in the morning before you eat anything else. The first thing you eat in the morning is crucial as it presses the mental reset button for appetite, desires and taste. Drinking this smoothie will reduce your desire to eat sweet things and over time will help reduce addictions to sugar and alcohol and sweet and stodgy carbohydrates like bread.

Could you give us a recipe so we can try this out for ourselves?

First of all you need a good modern blender as the old style ones don’t cut as efficiently. I recommend either a Nutribullet or the equivalent or if that’s too expensive the Phillips HR2020 as they chop the veg really well producing a really smooth liquid- old style blenders don’t make it so smooth. The smoother it is the more the cell walls have been broken down and the more nutrients have been released.

Secondly, the life force in your food is key so buy the freshest vegetables you can find. The ideal is to grow your own organic vegetables but otherwise the freshest vegetables are usually found in local market stalls. If you need to buy from the supermarket just check the vegetables are as crisp and firm as possible and that there are no withered or discoloured leaves.

We are not talking about huge quantities of vegetables here. My basic recipe is:

80g spinach
40g rocket
80g cucumber
40g celery
300ml water

For flavour put in 20-40g avocado, ½ clove garlic, ½ tsp Himalayan seasalt and 2 tsp lemon juice.

Drinking a smoothie is an excellent opportunity to add more herbs and supplements into your diet so you could also add fresh ginger and / or turmeric, linseed oil and and Pukka Clean Greens and Vitalise powders.

Put the water in the blender first and blend in each ingredient as you add it. Blend until the mix is really creamy. Divide into 2 portions, drink one before breakfast and keep the other in the fridge or in a cold thermos and drink late morning or before lunch.

In Chinese Medicine which I practice, we would worry about the negative effect on the digestion of consuming a lot of cold and raw food especially if we live in a cold and damp climate such as the UK.

For 15 years I stuck to eating no cold or raw food in the winter for fear of it weakening my digestion and in terms of Chinese Medicine leading to dampness or kidney yang deficiency. Then I was invited to a raw food retreat to teach about detoxification. I was exhausted on arriving at the retreat after an arduous teaching schedule but within 24 hours I had a real light bulb moment when I felt so energetic it was as if I had been plugged into the mains and I realized that the traditional teachings of Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine had missed the important point that raw food is ‘ alive ‘ with Qi. After 18 months of raw and living foods I spent some time in extremely cold weather but felt the energy of my body was so powerful that I was armoured from the inside against the cold and the wind. I believe that living foods such as sprouting greens and raw food like smoothies contain the energy and qi of the sun boosting our own inner qi and sunshine.

However I would caution against living off a raw food diet unless you have received proper training such as through the Hippocrates Institute or a raw food trainer or coach as it can be a very dangerous diet if its not done properly.

I now never advise people to change their diet I simply say add a green smoothie into your daily routine as this automatically leads to a healthy diet as the body will then no longer want sugar.

I know detoxification is a very popular concept but again needs to be done cautiously. What do you advise your clients?

If you are new to detoxing or don’t detox very often then the best thing to do is a one day detox with carefully planned eating the day after. Best choose a day when you are not working and can rest. Don’t eat anything on that day and just drink lots of Pukka Detox tea and lots and lots of water.

The day after your detox fast is very important. You should break your fast with raw fruit or vegetables eg fruit salad for breakfast. Lunch should be a cooked vegetable soup and then you can eat what you wish for dinner.

You could do this 1day fast maybe once a month or once every few months. If you want to do a more serious longer detox then you must do it under the guidance of a qualified practitioner or nutritionist. People on medication shouldn’t detox as it can affect the workings of their medicines. If you want to adopt a better diet then again see a practitioner for guidance on how to live more healthily.

I know you have worked at the Haven for a long time now; can you tell us a bit about what the Haven offers women and what you have learned about building up immunity to help protect against cancer?

The Haven is a national charity set up to support women with breast cancer; there are four Havens day centres around the country and you can go to which ever suits you best no matter where you live. The Haven offers all women who have or have had breast cancer 10 hours of free one to one therapy of their choice such as nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathy etc. It is enormously helpful to women coping with the side effects of cancer treatment on a physical and emotional level. It is a frightening and lonely place being diagnosed with cancer and people find their Haven sessions a huge support.
You can also come at any time in your life as long as you have had breast cancer; some people come years after diagnosis and treatment if that is when the impact of what they have been through really hits them.

It won’t surprise you that I think nutrition is key in building our immune system. Green smoothies are great for balancing our hormones –a vital part of womens’ health- the large amount of vitamins and minerals they contain help reduce hot flushes for example and their nourishing, cooling and anti inflammatory properties help balance body temperature and problems with menstruation.

My years at the Haven have also shown me that the number one hormone upsetter affecting oestrogen balance is alcohol. There is a large amount of research investigating the links between alcohol consumption and cancer and we advise that if you have had breast cancer you should drink 1 small glass of wine a week as absolute maximum.

Of course we need to address cancer on many different levels; being diagnosed with cancer is a wake up call and each person will need to work out the changes they can best make to their own lives. I believe the most important thing you can do is to learn how to meditate You can have the best diet and detox regularly but you also need to look at the emotional and spiritual side of your life such as finding your life purpose, and looking at the stress factors in your life and how you can manage stress better. If you have been diagnosed with cancer I would recommend ‘Radical Remission: Surviving cancer against all odds ‘ by Dr Kelly Turner which is the best book I’ve read on healing from cancer.

Nadia thank you so much for talking to us; its been fascinating.

Nadia can be contacted at

Contact The Haven on

Meet the author

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Suze Pole, Acupuncturist, mother, musician

Suze Pole has been an acupuncturist since 2000 and has specialised in women's health ever since. A passionate music lover, Suze now plays the saxophone and loves exploring the vibrant world of jazz. Married to Sebastian Pole, Pukka's master herbsmith, Suze has also played a key role in the development of Pukka's brand and herbal evolution.

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