Today’s health power players are no longer just doctors or dieticians. They are smart businesswoman and men, tradies, bloggers, and health and fitness coaches – the new ‘it’ people on the health scene so to say.
Each fortnight we will talk to a variety of inspiring individuals – from raw foodies, crossfitters, organic city dwellers, paleo peeps, nutritionists, bloggers and overall amazing human beings who actually practice what they preach.
Name: Carla Oates
Occupation: Founder of The Beauty Chef
For the people who aren’t familiar with you (or just want to know more), tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in Rose Bay; not far from Bondi. But my Grandmother and great aunt lived together lived in Bondi and I spent a lot of time at their house when I was little. I love Sydney, but I also appreciate how easy it is to leave the hustle and bustle with so many great places so close. The South Coast is a favourite – my family have a holiday house in Kiama and it is so beautiful there – best of both worlds – beach and country. I also love the Southern Highlands. My parents live part time on the central coast and we spent a lot of time there as kids, so that also holds a special place for me – a very funny little place called Budgewoi – where there are definitely no kale and coconut smoothies, it is a seriously bring your own situation!!
What made you choose the path of leading a healthy life and was there a particular turning point?
I established The Beauty Chef in 2009. I had been researching the benefits of plants and natural biological processes such as lacto-fermentation for around 10 years and was writing in the area of natural health and beauty. I had published a book called Feeding Your Skin with Penguin (in 2004) and had a DIY beauty column for the Sunday Telegraph for eight years as well as being the natural beauty editor for Wellbeing Mag for 12 years (which I still am). During this time I made all my own skincare from scratch from plants and organic foods and was giving them to friends and family to use. I created quite a demand and that demand grew to friends of friends. It seemed a natural progression to create a brand.
One thing that really stood out, too, was the difference in people’s skin when they ate my lacto-fermented vegetables. People were addicted to my fermented veggies and kefir coconut water, hence why The Beauty Chef started with my lacto-fermented inner beauty superfood powder, Glow.
What does your usual daily routine look like?
Apple cider vinegar in water on waking and then a dose of GLOW Inner Beauty Powder with Collagen Inner Beauty Boost, together in water.
Three mornings a week I go for a long walk along Bondi Beach and one morning per week, I walk around centennial park. I do pilates twice a week. Must have protein for breakfast, this usually consists of a BODY Inner Beauty Smoothie or eggs with veggies. Salad and protein for lunch and usually fish or chicken and veggies for dinner. Nuts, seeds and Beauty Chef products in between meals. Work during the day and nice family time at night and on weekends.
Let’s take a peek in your bathroom cupboard, what are your must have products?
Certified Organic coconut oil for: cleansing the skin, for hair treatments and as a body moisturiser. Apple cider vinegar makes a fantastic hair and scalp treatment. Also makes a great clarifying skin toner diluted in water. An array of essential oils for a therapeutic bath experience, to incorporate in skin treatments and to wear as perfume. French arglietz clay to mix with fresh ingredients to make face masks and of course all of The Beauty Chef’s topical skincare. In terms of make-up, I keep it simple, but am a little obsessed with RMS make-up pots at the moment, they are all completely natural, made with coconut oil. I use their foundation, luminiser and bronzer.
What do you always have in your kitchen?
Apple cider vinegar, eggs, fermented veggies, salmon, goats cheese, coconut milk, pesto, spices, fresh herbs and sprouted seed bread. Re. supplements, all of The Beauty Chef Inner Beauty products, grass fed colostrum and medicinal mushrooms.
How important is clean, nutrient rich food in your diet?
I eat lots and lots of plants, all different varieties, herbs, spices, organic wherever possible. 70% plants and some fermented in there, 20% good quality protein: grass fed or wild caught fish and sometimes 10% complex carbohydrates, but always gluten free – sweet potato, quinoa for example.
I am a big believer in maintaining balance in life. This means being conscious about putting enough time into the things that matter such as your diet, spending time with those you love, having fun and working with purpose and also keeping an open mind. While I eat a very balanced diet and take into account different ideologies of eating, I avoid extreme fad diets and belief systems. I love raw food, but I also think it is important for digestion to eat some cooked food. Some food is better for you when cooked.
I embrace many of the principles of paleo, but don’t have a completely paleo diet. The only thing I am quite extreme about is wholefoods. I choose low HI foods wherever possible – (low human intervention foods!). There is not much room in my world for processed food!
At The Beauty Chef, we believe beauty begins in your belly. Digestive health is key for healthy, radiant skin. We embrace the time-honoured art of fermentation in our products because fermenting ingredients not only pre-digests them to make the nutrients more available for the body to use, but it creates probiotics to help balance digestion.
Our gut is where 70% of the immune system lies, where we metabolise hormones, where we make detoxifying enzymes and where we make nutrients, and so much of what goes on in our digestive system can impact our skin. The skin, hair and nails are the last places to receive nutrients, as they go to more important organs first, so nutrition is important for glowing skin, and fermented foods give you dense, super charged nutrition.
My topical products also embrace fermentation for the same reasons. The nutrients are made more bio-available for the skin to use and probiotics help balance the skin. They are super active and super healthy. I love the fact that lacto-fermentation is a completely natural biological process too. We don’t need to make super-duper synthetic ingredients in a lab ((that may send our skin into imbalance and often our health too) to achieve “active”.
Here, we have this incredible process that turns natural ingredients into super natural and active ingredients – active, balanced and rejuvenating. And it is all done by nature! When I was a child, I had eczema and allergies and I went and saw a naturopath when I was around 12 and she drastically changed my diet. When I took certain things out of my diet and introduced more wholefoods, I saw a dramatic change in my skin. So from quite early on, I had a very good understanding about how food and chemicals and gut health can affect the skin.
When I became a beauty editor some 15 years ago, I was concerned with the amount of toxic chemicals in skincare products and I felt very passionate about helping to change the paradigm in the beauty industry. I knew that beauty began in the belly from my own experience; your gut (it doesn’t sound very glamorous, but improving its health, will make you more glamorous!) is where everything happens: where we make nutrients, where we metabolise hormones, where we neutralise pathogens, where we make detoxifying enzymes. All of these things if not working properly or in balance, can affect the skin profoundly. Also, the skin, hair and nails are the last places to get nutrients that go to more vital organs first, so if you are not getting enough nutrients, they literally starve.
My lacto-fermented inner beauty powders work on so many levels for the skin. When you lacto-ferment, the ingredients are pre-digested by the bacteria, so the nutrients become supercharged and more bio-available for the body to use. When we eat conventional food, we digest between 12-25% of it, when fermented, we digest up to 85% of it. It is like a UV infusion of nutrients into the body. It’s supercharged food and nutrients.
Fermentation also helps to neutralise any anti-nutrients such as phytic acid found in legumes and grains and doesn’t degrade vitamins (like cooking for example), in fact it increases levels. It also creates natural bio-available pro-biotics which help to balance digestive health. More and more studies are showing the link between skin issues and gut health. For example low levels of hydrochloric acid in the gut is linked to rosacea and acne and lactic acid bacteria (like the bacteria found in my fermented powders) help increase levels of this acid. Lacto-fermenting super foods turns them into super duper foods! From the natural to the super natural.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your health journey?
Improving my own health has been the biggest influence. Suffering from eczema, allergies and asthma as a child and teenager and seeing a naturopath who introduced me to the concept of ‘food as medicine’. My uncle was a chef and very into macrobiotics when I was a teenager, he lived in the mountains of Maleny, QLD; was the founder of brand of organic sauces and engaged a homeopath for all of his health issues. He also had a big influence on helping change the way I perceived food, health and medicine.
Loving I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes and all of Yottam Ottelenghis cookbooks, listening to jazz (new found love for jazz music), indoor plants and licorice and fennel tea, freshly brewed together. Great for digestion. LOVE a board game like scrabble or Balderdash.
Fave local cafe or restaurant?
I love Lox, Stock and Barrel in Bondi for breakfast or lunch. They do an amazing brekkie bowl and also delicious salads.
As your parting gift to us, what is your favourite health tip?
Lacto-fermented food! Found in all The Beauty Chef products. Excellent for beauty, health, digestion and overall wellbeing. The difference to your world when you start eating these foods is profound!
Be sure to check out more from Carla here