Karen Cummings-Palmer is a leading Integrative health and nutrition coach and commentator creating bespoke wellness programmes for both private clients and corporations all over the world.
Karen knows that we really can feed our faces and fuel our bodies. She believes that ultimate wellness is ultimate beauty and that great nutrition is like great face cream, it should, hydrate, strengthen and get you glowing!
What made you decide to become a nutritionist?
Like many people frankly I had issues, I battled with terrible eczema as a child and whilst it had began to heal by my late teens I still had the scars both physically and emotionally, but it also left me with an interest in the body’s ability to heal and became both personally and professionally engaged with all things health and beauty studying integrative nutrition whilst I was in LA just seemed like a natural part of the process
Do you think there is a danger that people are becoming so preoccupied with what they eat that the ritual of eating and enjoying food is being lost? (the art of sitting and sharing conversation over a meal can, in many ways, be seen as a wellness benefactor in itself)
Absolutely – wellness for me is a set of tools not rules. If you can’t ever eat chips that have a glass of wine – if that’s you thing then what’s the point – true health is about balance and it is holistic and what is really good for the spirit is nearly often good for the body
Is diet becoming overly complicated? What are the basic pillars for a healthy balanced diet?
Yes, it is really quite simple – of course clients see me because they need some nutritional education but that is only part of the story, they need support, accountability and often just a few simple changes that can make a huge difference. I believe in bio-individuality and of course everyone has different lifestyles but if you stick to mostly plants, a some good quality protein, complexed carbs and avoid refined sugar, highly processed food and excess alcohol you’ll be well on your way to good health
How does gut health affect skin?
We are what we eat but only if you absorb it first and having good gut health is going to make everything better including the skin. If the microbial load is out of balance it is likely to show up in your skin with inflammatory issues like rosacea and psoriasis
Veganism is big business at the moment, to what extent do you think it is another fad?
The FT produced an article saying that the veganism boom does more for food company profits than the planet…what is your view? I do not follow a vegan diet, but I do think most of us would benefit from reducing the amount of red meat we consume and from and environmental perspective clearly it is essential, but it is also complicated. Eating small amounts of locally sourced wild and organic meat is going to be better for our personal and collective health then eating large amounts of highly processed often very unhealthy ‘vegan and vegetarian alternatives’.
How important is it to eat organic?
We hear lots of speculation about the credibility of foods labelled ‘organic,’ particularly products we find in the supermarket I think local and seasonal first, then organic if and where possible.
A doctor friend told us she doesn’t take any supplements at all, that a balanced diet should provide all the necessary nutrients our body needs. If this is the case, why are supplements such big business and do you believe they are beneficial?
I am often asked if supplements are necessary – of course it is possible to get everything you need from your food, but most of us don’t – I take a few good quality supplements daily.
And…is there really a significant difference in the efficacy of certain supplements — some come with a scary price tag, is it worth the investment?
Not all supplements are created equally – Omega 3 is one of my non negotiable’s and they difference in quality in the market is huge
Continuing on the supplements theme, there has been a lot of speculation lately on the efficacy of collagen supplements to boost skin health, what is your view?
I take collagen a few times a week but for my joints as much as hair skin and nails. Look for a product that is just pure collagen and don’t expect it to get rid of wrinkles.